Why would you want to simplify your landscape compositions? And once you're convinced, how do you start?
Nailing a composition is one of the most important aspects of creating a strong image with a powerful story. A good composition is like a good foundation to a house: you wouldn't want to build your home on quicksand or mud, just like you wouldn't want to post-process an ill-composed photograph.
Simplifying an image is equally important in two ways: ridding of unnecessary elements and improving the mood or story in the photograph. What emotions are you feeling when in a landscape? What state of mind are you in? And how can you compose your image to best share that feeling or story with viewers? A messy composition with little-to-no focus can easily get lost in the endless sea of photographs. But how do you make someone stop in their tracks in awe of a landscape image you created? Try focusing on these simple tips:
Isolation parallels emphasis in that you're putting emphasis, or a lack thereof, onto a subject by isolating it from the rest of a scene. This can be done by utilizing cloudy weather conditions, an extreme wide angle or close-up, or even a telephoto lens.
Understanding color theory and the color wheel are major aspects to any creative endeavor. But using color to your advantage to simplify your landscape compositions should not be understated. By observing natural color contrasts and harmonies, you can simplify your compositions by focusing on the color relationship. This strategy for simplification, and having an eye for color in general, can take some time and trial and error, sort of like seeing in black and white. But when it clicks, you'll feel like you're seeing the world for the first time, and your images will reflect this.
Lines and Shapes
Leading lines and shapes are two powerful ways to help simplify your compositions. By focusing on geometry in nature, as well as the way shapes and lines interact with each other, your viewers' eyes will have certain paths to follow within your image. This can act as a narrative tool by providing a way for your viewer to enter and exit a photograph.
Simplifying your landscape images is a good idea, because it rids of distracting elements in your photographs and can more easily convey a story or mood to your audience. A messy composition is a bad foundation to start with, and the three above tips may help immensely in simplifying the world while looking through your viewfinder.
What are your thoughts on simplifying landscape compositions? Do you have different tips for doing so? Do you like different styles? Why or why not?