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Landscape Photography: Looking for Abstract Patterns in Nature

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Landscape photography often involves looking for big views – sweeping vistas with lots of depth. It's about having interesting elements in the foreground, mid-ground, and distance.

We don’t usually associate landscape photography with abstract patterns.  However, these can be great fun to do, and when you start to train your eye to look for this type of picture, you start to find possible subjects surprisingly often!

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For example; you can find abstract patterns in the repeating lines of tree trunks in a plantation, or lines of crops planted in a field, or a patchwork of fields with different coloured crops.

Abstract patterns appear in roof-scapes of terracotta tiles, or the repeating arches of a bridge, or columns in a colonnade.  A river meandering through a landscape, seen from above, may make an abstract series of curves and loops.  On a beach, the retreating tide will often leave lines of ripples in the sand.

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To give your pattern picture as much impact as possible, it’s best to exclude anything that doesn’t contribute to the pattern, or isn’t really part of it.  This means that a zoom lens or telephoto lens will often be best for the job, as with the longer focal lengths you can be much more selective about what you include and what you exclude.

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In this photo of a field with bales, I liked the colour combination of the golden field against the blue sky, and also the curving patterns where the crop had been harvested.  I used a telephoto lens to make a tight composition and exclude anything except gold and blue.

fields with bales

As well as excluding unwanted elements, you need to think about the arrangement of the elements within your frame.  When I first saw the possibility of a picture in this field of vines with three trees, I was lower down, and the tops of the trees went above the top line of the field and into the sky.  I found a higher vantage point so that I could contain the trees within the shape of the field.

three trees and vines

If you’re interested in learning more about landscape photography, you might like to consider taking my course on Fine Art Landscape Photography

Geoff Harris

I am a photography journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill, Steve McCurry and the late Mary Ellen Mark. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time.

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