Love taking photos with your smartphone?
Happy with your pics?
If not this blog will help your landscape photography with a few simple tips and tricks which you can use now.
Top Tip 1 - Shoot Horizontal
What does this mean? Well basically the long bit of the phone will be at the bottom of the photo - so something like the photo below.
With the longer part at the bottom this can help show width and space. Good if you are on a beach, up a hill or such like.
Try to keep the horizon (if you can see it) level.
BUT, of course, there are no rules: so you might want to flip it on its head and shoot vertically....
That means the long edge of the phone will be up and down. You will lose some of the shot left and right.
A vertical shot would look like the one below.
In this photo I wanted to emphasise the vertical nature of the climb. Vertical format achieved that.
This is a good option therefore if you wish to emphasise height.
In summary, there are two options (ignoring quirky angles) vertical and horizontal - I would encourage, as a starting point, for landscapes, to think horizontally first - there is a tendency to shoot vertically (as thats the way we see/use phones) but just take time to decide, deliberately, what you wish to capture and choose accordingly.
Or just shoot both and worry about it later....!
Top Tip 2 - Take the Scene Apart
For landscape photography the first instinct is to shoot a wide open space; to include hills, rivers and such like. However there are cracking gems to shoot if you take the scene apart. What I mean by that is start to examine details. What adds interest, or colour or texture to the scene? Who or what uses the land? Is there something quirky about it? Is there a humorous angle to take?
For me I like to look at the odd and ends, fences, stones, flora and fauna and get up close. Just stop and look.
This shot above was taken about 7am on a cold, damp morning up Loudoun Hill (where there was an historic battle in 1307 involving Robert the Bruce in case you're into your Scottish History...).
I had already spotted morning dew and therefore was looking out for it.
I saw this with the yellow flower, and thought "this is what I'm after". So I zoomed in and took the shot. Light and water work well together too: especially if the background is dark.
Another option is like in the picture below - what drew my eye was simply the lines - try and forget what you are looking at and see simply a pattern of shapes and lines - and you never know what might begin to pop out at you.
What I liked here was the merging of man-made and natural lines slightly silhouetted against a grungy misty background.
This is taking the scene apart - its not a big wide shot of a mountain nor a close up of a flower - a medium shot.
Similarly look for quirky scenes - in the photo below, this cow wandered over for a blether and came in close for a sniff!
Cows are always up for a quirky expression I find.
Its important of course not to frighten cattle so move slowly and be safe.
These kinds of shots are great to add interest to your collection of pics when you are out and about.
The first thought is usually: "Its a lovely sunny day, the photos will look great". .
However, its not always the case.
Overhead harsh sunshine can strip away colours, make things look flat and force people to squint.
With that thinking it is easy to put away your camera/phone if the weather is poor.
But: hold on; take another look....
Stormy clouds look great - nature offers up a wonderful variety of conditions and they are all ready to be shot.
Think - Bad Weather is Good Weather!
A photo is usually better if there is something obvious the viewer should be looking at: like a person.
Or a cow sniffing you....as above.
So before taking the shot, ask yourself: "What am I trying to show here?"
The photo below is of a walk I take my dog on frequently - Its a long (ish) path so the vertical shot arguably suits it. So far, so good. But its definitely leaving the viewer (I suspect) thinking "what am I meant to be looking at?"
What you could do therefore is think "could I add something to the scene to make it more interesting - a draw - something which allows the eye to stop and for the viewer to latch onto something and go "thats great".
In this photo of a cow (yes, there's a theme developing) the immediate attraction for me was the sky - then I saw the cow but wanted the cow to be on the horizon - so I moved up a bank slightly from the road and shot through a fence - the new angle then meant the cow was on the "ridge" and I wanted the cow in the middle wrapped by the atmospheric clouds. I waited until it looked at me, then took the shot.
The sky alone would have been OK, but the cow, I think, makes the shot.
(Note - this shot took time as the cow was, shall we say, busy making itself lighter....)
If the sun or brightest part of the sky is facing you and you are pointing the camera/phone at it you might face problems.
First, its probably going to damage your eyes so be careful or simply don't - but there are times when you can: say, if the sun is behind the clouds.
The phone is likely though not to be able to cope with this and will make the scene probably very dark in parts.
You can see in this photo (above) of Loudoun Hill that the sky is fairly well exposed but the hill is very dark - What the camera has done is "metered" (done its calculation) based on the brightest (and most dominant) part of the scene. I am facing West at about 6pm so the sun is heading over in that direction for setting later on. This is fine if you wanted a silhouetted hill - but not good if you wanted to see the rock formations on the hill itself - that detail is lost. If you face this situation zoom into the area you are most interested in and cut out the bright stuff.
So I moved further to the right and decided to use the light, rather than avoid it. Allowing the camera to have lots of the bright light fill the frame meant the sky was looking bright but well exposed, the hill dark and incorporating a silhouette of the the Statue (Spirit of Scotland) - resulting in the pic below.
A photo can often be improved by including a sense of depth - that is items of interest front of the pic to back - like the shot below.
Look for something long and heading off into the distance.
Here the lines of the fence go into the distance and therefore a sense of depth is provided.
So there you have it - a few tips and tricks from THE INSIDERS GUIDE TO IPHONE LANDSCAPES.
If you wish to have a look at other landscape images shot at beautiful locations around the world from the Himalayan area of Nepal to the beautiful Western Isles of Scotland then my website has a full collection for you to enjoy.
And of course, I'd be delighted if you were happy to share this blog with your friends and family.
You've heard my tips - let me hear yours!
Comment below and share your thoughts! Share your experience and let everyone pick up a tip or two.....