When you look at a landscape photo, you likely know within just a split second if it’s a good photo or not.
You might not even be able to fully articulate why it looks good.
In many cases, lighting, sharpness and subject matter help make a good photo.
However, the manner in which the photo is composed is also a crucial element of its success.
Let’s explore a few fundamental landscape photography composition rules that you need to start using today.
Fill the Frame With the Subject
Filling the frame is easy when taking a portrait. All you have to do is frame a close-up, and you’re good to go.
Filling the frame when photographing landscapes is a bit more difficult.
After all, when you stand in front of a beautiful, sweeping vista, you want to recreate that for the viewers of your photos.
Unfortunately, when shooting a large landscape, having too much empty real estate in the frame can make your subject look and feel small. And the smaller your subject, the less impactful it will be, not to mention the less it will feel like it does in real life.
The solution is to fill the frame.
How to Fill the Frame
- Look for vignettes in the larger landscape that might work well as the primary subject of your shot. Elements with interesting shapes, textures, or colors are prime targets.
- If you have a zoom lens, use it. Zooming in helps you crop out unneeded details to focus more on the subject. If you don’t have a zoom lens, you’ll need to get physically closer to the subject.
- Adhere to the Rule of Thirds. By placing the most interesting elements of the shot to the left or right of center or above or below the horizontal midline, you’ll have a more balanced shot. In the image above, note how the vertical line of trees is to the left side of the frame, while the horizontal line of trees is just below the midline. What’s more, the crest of the most prominent hill is shifted to the left for a more interesting composition.