Reflections on Landscape Photography

"The Components for Success"

Examples of Landscape Photography can be found in the albums and portfolios of every photographer. They are all pleasing to look at although some demand a second or third viewing. A selection might be displayed on a wall or in a gallery.

Few photographers are ever entirely satisfied with the number of excellent images they produce when compared with the countless shots they actually take.

Here Charlie Waite, one of the very best Landscape Photographers, helps us to improve the percentages and produce more stunning images by sharing the thoughts that are always in his head as he “sees” an image through his viewfinder.


Article and Images by Charlie Waite

Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite

1. Using your hands, make them into a rectangle to see whether there is a photograph to be made. If you can, make a piece of black card about 4 X 5 inches with a rectangular aperture cut out of it. This will help a great deal to remove the potential image from its context. When you finally see the result you might decide to crop the image further - perhaps to a square.

2. Close focus to check that there is nothing in the immediate foreground that would not be visible with the lens set at infinity. Out of focus foregrounds can look sloppy. For flowers and extreme close-ups however the background and foreground can be thrown out of focus, although think about what colours and shapes will evolve from doing so.

3. Take your eye around the outside edge of the viewfinder - twice - to be totally familiar with all that exists on the perimeter. Decide whether what exists on the outside edge supports what takes place within the body of the image.

4. When there is something just outside the field of view that you do not want to include, remember that some camera viewfinders show you only 97% so make allowances!

Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite


5. When photographing with the sun in front of you, do not assume that the lens hood will prevent direct sunlight falling onto the front element of the lens. Unintentional flair is a photographer's worst enemy. Use your hand or a piece of card, or better still would be companion, who could stand to one side and ensure that the lens is flair free.

6. Delve deep into your creation - it may become a 20 X 16 print! All components must be evaluated. Consider everything! Decide whether what is included plays an important part in your production. Omit the redundant! You are the producer, art director and camera person all rolled into one. You take responsibility.

7. If time allows try not to rush. Settle into your photograph. Haste and pressure are barriers to creativity.

8. If you have a tripod, use it! It has two functions, first and most obviously to allow long-time exposures and secondly and as important, it allows you to take your photograph seriously. With the aid of a tripod fine adjustments can be made.
Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite



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9. Landscape photography can be a form of contemplation and meditation. Become absorbed and get into the "right frame of mind".landscape photography
10. Be alert! "Chance favours the prepared mind" (Quote: Ansell Adams).

11. Fine tune your vision.

12. If there is no landscape in front of you, look around, there may be one at your feet.

13. Consider small details.

Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite


14. If you have a single lens reflex camera I recommend bracketing (taking exposures of a half to two thirds of a stop either side of the one suggested by the meter in your camera). With transparency this is advisable as all chrome films have very little exposure latitude and with digital it costs nothing.

15. Think simple.

16. Write things down. There is nothing more shaming than having to admit when someone says how marvellous your photograph is "Oh dear, I can't remember what I did" or worse still, "where it was!"

17. Ask yourself when looking through the camera "can I see this image framed and proudly displayed on a wall"?

Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite

18. If the sky is lacking in interest, i.e. too bland or too blue or grey, then try leaving it out altogether. If the sky is good then let it have its say. Try devoting three quarters of the photograph to the sky if it is remarkable. Include whole clouds if possible. With reflections, try to include entire clouds. "Every cloud has its certain valid moment" (Quote: Minor White. American landscape photographer).

19. Look at where the shadows are and how deep they are! It is surprising how deep black "nothingness" can dominate a photograph as much as unwanted highlights. Find a balance.

20. Look for graphics and the abstract. Look for shapes and patterns.
Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite



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21. Squint to evaluate brightness range. It is the best way to see whether it is too great for the capacity of the film or sensor to record.landscape photography
22. Big views are difficult; try and make them coherent.

23. Use cloud shadow to conceal ugly features. Also, cloud shadow can give a landscape a greater sense of depth and dimension. Look up to see what the clouds are doing.

24. All atmosphere is turned off when top light is turned on. Try not to photograph expansive views in the middle of the day. Early light offering long shadows is preferable. Equally, the late evening light, just after the sun has set the "afterglow", can produce a lovely luminous light.

Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite





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25. Be aware of light. A photographer must be acutely aware of the nature and quality of light and how the light is falling on the subject. Light is everything!landscape photography
26. Lonely trees often work. Most photographers cannot resist them, especially with a lovely sky above. Try to include the base of a tree and also try not to cut the tops off! Try to include whole clouds if you can.

27. Think about the effect that a prevailing wind may have on your photograph. If the light is too low to allow for a short shutter speed to stop motion then consider using a long shutter speed intentionally to convey a sense of movement in foliage etc and thus allowing a precious small aperture to be preserved.

28. Look at other people's images in books, exhibitions and magazines. We can learn from one another.
Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite


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29. Look at postcards with a critical eye. Buy your worst and your best. Compare postcards of the same subject.landscape photography
30. Experiment and be daring!

31. Cover the viewfinder of your camera if your face is not close up to it at the moment of exposure. Sometimes stray light can enter the metering system and distort correct exposure often by as much as a stop! Beware!

32. Persevere and think about "making" a photograph as opposed to "taking" one.

Landscape Photography - Charlie Waite




More of Charlie's excellent Landscape Photography images can be seen in his gallery at www.charliewaite.com and further details on his photography tours and workshops are available at www.lightandland.com

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