Ap­ply the rule of thirds

Di­vide the scene laid out be­fore you into nine sep­a­rate sec­tions, and you can cre­ate a more pleas­ing land­scape com­po­si­tion

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1 How to use the rule of thirds The rule of thirds can be used in all gen­res of pho­tog­ra­phy, but you’ll find it es­pe­cially use­ful for land­scapes.

By split­ting the scene into vir­tual thirds, ver­ti­cally and hor­i­zon­tally, you can bal­ance the com­po­si­tion, care­fully po­si­tion­ing your main point of in­ter­est (a tree in the ex­am­ple be­low) on a point where the lines intersect, to draw the viewer’s eye into the scene.

You should also aim to split the sky and ground in this way, in­clud­ing ei­ther one-third ground to two-thirds sky, or vice versa. If you’re shoot­ing on a day with good colours in the sky, or there are some in­ter­est­ing clouds above, for ex­am­ple, it would be best to in­clude two-thirds of sky. 2 Frame it up When you ar­rive on lo­ca­tion, have a good look around be­fore you even think about tak­ing your cam­era out of the bag.

Take your time and con­sider the space you’re work­ing with, mov­ing around to de­cide the best van­tage point to shoot from. Use your fin­gers to mock up a frame so you can see what works – and what doesn’t. Many pho­tog­ra­phers re­turn to a lo­ca­tion on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions, in dif­fer­ent light, to get the re­sults they’re af­ter. 3 Don’t for­get to take a tri­pod A tri­pod is a must-have ac­ces­sory for all land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers. When cap­tur­ing scenic shots, you’ll of­ten be shoot­ing in low light at the start or the end of the day, or us­ing small aper­ture set­tings to cap­ture as much of the scene as pos­si­ble in fo­cus, so you’ll need to use a slow shut­ter speed. This makes it im­pos­si­ble to ob­tain sharp shots when the cam­era is hand­held.

Us­ing a tri­pod helps get com­po­si­tion right, as it forces you to slow down and think about how your sub­ject works in the frame. The way to get bet­ter re­sults is to shoot, re­view, tweak, then shoot again. This might take a few tries, so keep prac­tis­ing. 4 Use Live View to com­pose Live View is an ex­cel­lent fea­ture that’s guar­an­teed to help you when it comes to com­po­si­tion.

The Live View fea­ture on most DSLRS comes with a grid over­lay op­tion, which you can use to ap­ply the rule of thirds. Sim­ply line up the hori­zon in the top or bot­tom third and place your main sub­ject at a point one-third of the way in – a sim­ple, yet ef­fec­tive, set-up.

This sim­ple, ef­fec­tive im­age uses the rule of thirds to great ef­fect

Here, the eye is led through the space and the ra­tio of sky to land is more pleas­ing

In this im­age, the tree is in the cen­tre and the sky and the ground are evenly di­vided

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