You are not always in a stunning location where the landscape does the work for you. Here are seven tips to extract the most from a “boring” landscape.
I live in Denmark, and Denmark is most certainly not known as a destination for landscape photographers. We have no waterfalls, no mountains, no glaciers, and most of our countryside is rural. Denmark is actually the most cultivated country in Europe measured by the percentage of geography. What we do have is long rolling hills, young forests, and beaches, and that is about it. Although not landscapes, we do also have a good amount of cultural structures such as lighthouses and castles.
So what do you do, when you are stuck to your local “boring” landscape due to a worldwide pandemic?
First and foremost, it is important that you aim your camera at something. “A beautiful view” does not cut it. There has to be a focal point, and if that focal point is interesting itself, it is often better. If you do not have access to exotic elements such as mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls, you may have to look at bit “outside” of the landscape genre. A lone tree, a castle, a lighthouse, a flock of birds, a person, a windmill, or something else can also work really well.
As the landscape does not do the work for you, you will have to rely on other special features to create something out of the ordinary. The weather conditions are the most obvious feature you can control (to a certain point). There are many great weather apps for predicting certain types of weather. For forest photography, I rely heavily on fog and high humidity to simplify the scene and create atmosphere, while a stormy day full of rain clouds works really well in open landscapes. Other features that influence the landscape are different season: autumn colors, snow and frost, spring bloom, and different types of crops in the fields during summer.
Since the landscape is already “empty,” embracing minimalism and simple photography will really work to your benefit. Having one or two elements such as a lone tree and a cloud above it make for a simple, yet impactful photo. Another benefit of minimalist photography is the prints are rarely intrusive or competing with other stuff in your living room.
The wide angle lens is often used in contemporary landscape photography. However, the wide angle works really well in dramatic landscapes. In flat landscapes, the longer focal lengths can work really well. They work well due to perspective compression. Perspective compression can make distant objects seem closer, give a sense of scale, and fill the frame with what you want to photograph and exclude whatever you do not need in the scene. Check out the video above for more information on perspective compression.
Another great tip is that the grass is not always greener on the other side. For the longest time, I was under the impression that the Danish landscape was boring, but that was mainly because I was used to it. It was normal and ordinary to me, and I craved the extraordinary. Ironically, photos from Iceland and other popular photo destinations have become quite ordinary over the past years. Little did I know the landscapes of Denmark are actually extraordinary. Our forests are actually quite cool, our lighthouses are quite aesthetic, and we do have some landscape pearls, which you just need to find.
Learn the techniques you need to know to take photos in your local landscape. If you have a lot of woodlands, learn how you can take beautiful photos in forests. If you have clear dark skies, learn some astrophotography, and if you live in a city, it would be beneficial to learn some cityscape photography. Having success with what you do usually reinforces your will to do it, which in turn ought to increase your happiness.
The last tip can be a little costly, but try to do some drone photography, A drone literally changes your perspective, and you can make some extraordinary photos of ordinary landscapes. A drone above a rural area is quite a powerful tool to photograph patterns.
Check out the video above for a more in-depth discussion and many more examples. Do you have any tips for taking extraordinary photos in “boring” landscapes?