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
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