We’ve all had this experience: Driving on Skyline Drive, stopping at the overlooks to take photos that capture the grandeur before us, only to get home, look at the pictures, and find them flat and uninspiring. All the elements that enthralled us at the time are there, but not the feelings. Why?
When we look at a landscape, our eyes travel over it and selectively focus on the elements that we find appealing. Our field of vision encompasses a great deal of the scene, but our eyes and brains have the ability to ignore all except the most alluring details. Lenses and sensors or film cannot do this by themselves. They need help.
Time is the most important investment you can make in getting good landscape pictures. When you arrive in a place you’ve never visited before, spend time scouting—driving or hiking to different locations, finding different vantage points. Carry a compass to figure out where the sun will rise and set, and imagine how the place would look in different kinds of light. If you are photographing a stream or waterfall, for example, the water can be the center of interest in the image, or it can serve as an element in your composition. Take the time to make some decisions. This can take some practice, but the payoff will be great. Be sure to submit your best shots for consideration in our Views of Shenandoah photo contest.
(Excerpt taken from Photography Field Guide: Landscapes and Ultimate Photography Field Guide: Landscapes by Robert Caputo.)