How to Use Nature for Dramatic Landscape Photography
Nature landscape photography may seem like an easy feat because there’s no need for complicated lighting or studio set-ups. It seems that all you need is a camera and a little bit of luck. In truth, there’s more to nature landscape photography than meets the eye. More than just clicking the camera, the job of the photographer is to document nature. He has to be able to use his creative mind as much as his skills.
Step 1: Know Nature’s Character
More than just capturing a moment, the drama of landscape photography lies in being able to convey emotion. Believe it or not, this lies with you as the creative photographer. Just because a certain landscape moves you, it doesn’t mean that your picture will be able to do the same. With the right use of your settings, you will be able to capture a dramatic moment in nature.
The first thing you have to do is study your landscape carefully. Assess how the view makes you feel. Is it serene, or is it more violent? For instance, when taking a picture of an ocean, you can opt to use a high shutter speed to show the details of foam and waves. This will make your picture appear busier and more dynamic. On the other hand, if you take a picture of the same scene in the late afternoon when the light is softer, the emotion conveyed might be more of serenity and peace. With a lower ISO setting, you’ll be able to capture more shadows. With a slower shutter speed, the water will appear more misty and smooth-flowing.
Take note of the details in your landscape that you want to come out. Knowing what type of light you prefer will help you decide when you’ll take the photograph and at what settings. It’s also important to bring the right equipment. A tripod is always handy. And you might want to pack in a polaroid filter, a wide angle or macro lens.
Step 2: Look for Interesting Focal Points
In nature photography, you do not have the luxury of being able to manipulate your subject. This is where the photographer’s creativity comes into play. The most dramatic landscape photographs usually have a focal point. Find an interesting foreground in your scenery. Or, you might want to play with silhouettes during a dusk or dawn scene. Scout around for interesting lines, such as waves on a desert plain or a winding stream. Use these leading lines in your framing.
Contrasting elements also make for great drama in landscape photography. You might foreground a straight cement road against a rugged mountain range. You might find some stormy clouds behind a field of flowers. Keep your eyes peeled for contrasting elements in nature that can be framed together from a certain angle.
Step 3: Prepare to Come Back
If you have the opportunity to come back to a landscape, do so. Different times of the day offer different lighting options, cloud formations, animals and more. The perfect picture you capture today might feign in comparison to what tomorrow may bring.