Here’s the first of a number of tips for landscape photography beginners. These tips won’t be in order of importance or anything, so keep coming back for helpful ideas on how to improve your landscape shots!
One thing pros keep banging on about is foreground interest. That is, things closer to the camera, not the horizon, that keep the picture interesting and add detail to an otherwise bland scene. Often, when beginners take landscape photos, they think ‘landscape’ and think fields, mountains, sea etc. That’s often enough to make a great landscape photo, but it often creates an uninspiring scene and a ‘point and shoot’ feel to the image. There’s nothing to lead the eye into the scene, and the picture lacks an impression of 3-dimensions.
With something or things close to the camera, in focus, the viewer gets a feel for the physical location of the photo, and is led into the picture from something interesting. The foreground is often the main point of interest as well, with further afield parts playing second fiddle.
Look for a foreground that contrasts the rest of the scene, like bright colours, high contrast, lots of detail, and basically anything interesting (funnily enough!). Things like flowers, rocks, water. Use a wide angle lens (often as wide as you can get), get down low and make sure both the foreground and background are in focus. A small aperture like f/16 or f/22 is necessary to get everything sharp. The horizon can be a third of the way from the bottom or a third of the way from the top, it doesn’t matter.
Think ‘foreground photography’, not ‘landscape photography’!