Compose a Landscape

When you are photographing the landscape in which you find yourself, the more composition guidelines you can use, generally the more effective your picture will be. I made this photograph while visiting Florida on vacation with my sister. Before you read my list of composition techniques, see how many you can identify yourself!

Blue Cypress Conservation Area, Vero Beach, Florida
1/250 second, f/16, ISO 400, 28-105mm lens

Here are the guidelines I consciously followed when framing this image:
  • Beautiful evening light casts a warm glow over the scene as the sun approaches the horizon. Time to break out the camera!
  • The lily pads serve as a foreground subject. This creates a sense of depth or distance along with the trees in the middle ground and the horizon in the background. (The bottom has been slightly cropped to remove extra "empty" water.)
  • Converging lines appear in the row of trees on the left and the bank (and telephone poles) on the right, leading the eye from the front to the back (near to far) of the photograph.
  • The focal point of the water meeting the horizon appears off center, lending more interest than if it were in the middle of the picture.
  • A visual "path" of open water leads the eye around the left side of the lily pads and then down the canal.
  • Including more foreground than sky in the image makes the water and plants more important.
  • The golden grasses in the warm light on the right provide color contrast to the blue sky, which conveniently contains some nice clouds.
  • Using an aperture of f/16 created sharpness from near to far.
  • Raising the ISO to 400 enabled a fast shutter speed (1/250 second) to prevent camera shake and stop the motion of plants in the breeze creating ripples on the water.
No matter where you are when you want to record the landscape of your environment, having great light and using multiple composition guidelines strengthens your results.

Get practice composing your best pictures in Photography in the Field, a hands-on course to assist you with improving your photographic skills, beginning May 30, 2019, in Missoula, Montana. Click here to register.