A lot of the advice written about how to improve your landscape photography is aimed at photographers with DSLRs, which have the options to adjust aperture and shutter speed settings. This gives the photographer creative control over the depth of field in the photo, as well as the ability to use long shutter speeds to convey movement.
But what about photographers who use a point and shoot compact camera? Even though you may not be able to set aperture and shutter speed, there are still ways in which you can significantly improve your landscape photography. So here are some ideas of ways which don’t involve swapping your compact camera for a DSLR!
Light: the quality of the light will fundamentally affect the success of your photograph, no matter what type of camera you have. In summer, try to shoot at the beginning and end of the day, when the sun is low in the sky. This gives lovely texture and shape to the landscape, especially when it is coming from your side. The light also has a warm, golden quality to it at these times of day. At midday, the light will be much harsher, and coming from directly overhead it won’t reveal any texture in the landscape.
In the winter months, time of day is not such a problem, as the sun will be low in the sky throughout the day.
On an overcast day, large landscapes may not be shown to their best advantage, so look for smaller, intimate landscapes, which may sometimes benefit from the softness of overcast light.
Composition: sometimes a small change in the composition of a photo can make a big difference to the result. When you look through the viewfinder, really think about which elements you want to include and which you want to exclude. Be particularly careful to check around the edges of the frame, and make sure you haven’t got anything distracting creeping into the image, like bits of branch, or the back end of a sheep!
Sometimes a small change of viewpoint will allow you to make a better composition, perhaps by including something interesting in the foreground to give a sense of depth, or finding a line to lead the viewer’s eye into the picture.
Think like a camera: all photographers must have had the experience of photographing a beautiful landscape, and then looking at the resulting picture and seeing a telegraph pole or a litter bin or some other undesirable object which you simply hadn’t noticed at the time. This is because our vision is surprisingly selective – when we look at a view, we see the bits we want to see, and subconsciously edit out anything that doesn’t appeal. In the same way, we see detail in both shadows and highlights, and don’t see the contrast in brightness range.
But the camera will struggle with that brightness range, and will also faithfully record everything within the scene, beautiful or not. This is why we need to override the subconscious, and objectively evaluate everything that we are including in our photograph.