Outdoor Photography – Lessons Learned

Outdoor photography seems incredibly easy at first - I mean, for many it's just taking a snapshot of an amazing range of mountains, or a lovely sea. How many pictures have we all seen on facebook after our friends and acquaintances came back from their summer travels that are supposed to be outdoor photography?

Here's the thing - as there's a lot more than curved lips to a glamour portrait or an old house to make a gothic photograph, there's even a lot more than pretty mountains or a sunken sunset that make successful landscape and outdoor photographs.

There are a couple of key elements to it and one important concept - the one of mindful photography. This one applies to just about any shot one would want to take at any time - everything has to be properly evaluated before taking that shot or before selecting the winning shot from a pile of similar photos.

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography

Two important rules: Find Your Subject And Create A Sense Of Scale

Even with outdoor photography there is a subject - although it's wider and different in placing than a portrait, it's amazing what kind of paradigm shift the mind suffers once you see your outdoor photography as something that has its own subject that needs to be highlighted.

For example, you're in a beautiful mountainous region, but there are so many snowed peaks that picking one seems either dull or pointless. What would make your picture stand out from the crowd? Is it the fact that the mountains are incredibly majestic? Is it the fact that their peaks are filled with snow while at the bottom a beautiful green tree stands? Is it the fact that there seems to be a small cottage right near the snowed peak?

Take the big picture and downsize it - find your subject and tell your viewers what they should see. You have the lens, you're there - why not share your view with everybody else. If on the contrary, you feel you should reveal how beautiful the entire area is, switch to a wide-range lens and display it in all its majesty.

But remember not to insert too much information - too many layers in an image make it incredibly crowded and hard to follow. The viewer's eye will travel too often from one point to another and will miss the subject. Underline the wideness with fewer details if possible.

Creating a sense of scale is just as important as finding a subject - for that matter the two go well together. Imagine the previous discussion - you stand near an incredibly tall mountain, and you want to picture it as it is, how do you do that? Well, I'll give you another example to rely on - take a very tall person, how would you underline his or her tallness?

By placing it near a normal-sized object that's normally small - like a stool or a cat looking up at them. Same goes with mountains - try for a tree in the nearby area, try giving the viewer a sense of scale by giving them the scale. You can't actually write on the picture "This mountain was really high" but you can certainly find a tree in the area and put them in the same frame. Consider the Golden Gate Bridge in California. It's big and how do we show that? Let's look below:

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor Photography

The small lights on the bridge are cars. Now can you feel the scale of the bridge? That's how you compare sizes.