Lines, forms and colours. Masters of Landscape Photography.
Very often it is at the time of a voyage at the end of the world that the person decides to invest in a camera for the landscapes of a remote country. The landscape is generally the occasion and the reason for the beginnings in photography. The word landscape is quite vague and indicates different sometimes strong subjects. Even if one understands quickly what differentiates the mountain and the plain, the luxuriant vegetation of the desert, the calm one of the lake to the frenzy of the oceans.
A landscape can be a vast panorama or a little place of nature. The only common point it is that the landscape is a field of photography where the photographer is completely at the thank you of the light. Impossible to direct a landscape, you must wait until the light takes the good angle or give up your project. Which is the good light for a landscape ? It is that which reveals qualities that you find interesting in a specific scene. It can be the soft and fuzzy light twilight or dawn or the hard and dry light of midday in a desert. The abrupt changes of the conditions of light can reveal the dramatic or fantastic character of a scene.
For this reason of many photographers of landscape prefer to early work the morning or late the evening when the sun is low in the sky, diffusing a directional light which creates long shades and will underline the lines and the forms and will give to the colours unusual tonalities and more marked contours. Moreover it should be added that there are nevertheless places on earth where one can reasonably wonder it is not a question oneself of another planet. The lines the forms and the colours become so exceptional that the effect of surprised for the spectator is immense. But even without photographing these places which raise of the exception the same landscape significance changes according to the point of view and framing. According to the filters of colour used, according to whether there is or not a foreground, according to whether living beings, men or animals, are apparent on the image.
But to deserve photography a landscape must however show characteristics which must be development and be used as a basis for the composition. You must build images graphically solid, able to collect and hold the attention of the spectator and proposing a psychological atmosphere in agreement with your thought and your feelings as a creator. He is imperative to know to tally. You must mentally trace the tension fields of the image (according to the rule of the thirds) and place the points on which to wish you to draw the attention to the natural points of interest. You must choose a point of view such as the various elements are agreeably laid out the ones compared to the others. Nature and the men make the things sometimes well but not always. Between the various components of a landscape there exist often harmonious relations which you must emphasize.
Be attentive with the lines, the forms and the colours by becoming aware that it is the light which will give them a quite particular relief. You must be sensitive to the various harmonies and stop your car for example when you are seized by the beauty of a site which a turn of the road has just revealed you. Especially do not let spend certain moments because it is probable that you will not find them easily. Often it is the point of view which you adopt who will allow you to emphasize the interest of a site. For this reason the photographs taken in altitude often have much force, it is a point of view to which we are not accustomed. But the interest of a photograph is not directly related to the geographical, historical or tourist importance of a subject. For the photographer a humble house with the foot of a mountain is a subject as interesting as the Pyramids. Sometimes even the detail of a scene can provide a remarkable subject. The opposition or the juxtaposition of lines of colour or harmonious lines can sometimes justify an image.
And for building your image well if it is impossible to move the elements of the landscape to insert them of force in framing you can however change objective to vary relative dimensions of the reasons, the spreading out of the plans, the position of the lines and the forms, the convergence or the divergence of the horizontal or vertical reducing lines according to the focal distance used. A foreground chosen well, characteristic of the nature of the landscape, gives an impression of relief, is used as scale or comparative data and gives depth to your images. To obtain an asymmetry of the composition in general one avoids placing the horizon in full medium, unless symmetry is not the central theme of your composition. If there are several topics in your image one must dominate the others in an obvious way, although the images on floors containing several topics are rare they exist and they are difficult to realize. Several methods are possible to move the horizon in framing. You can incline the optical axis of the apparatus in diving or low-angle shot.
You can also leave the horizontal apparatus and raise or lower the point of view what modifies considerably returned and the prospect for a scene. So for any reason it is impossible you can change your image without inclining the apparatus by using an special objective great angle. The fitting of the dominant lines evokes according to the case, the calm one, the rise in the thought, the movement, femininity, virility
Often it is in an instinctive way that a landscape of seaside where the horizontal ones dominate register in the width of the format whereas a mountain at the vertiginous tops is tallied with more force in the height of the format. The landscape is by its nature a subject with 3 dimensions and same dimension, the depth, can with it only suggest the spreading out of the plans sometimes to the horizon. To accentuate the feeling of relief you will often need a foreground. Often the plans become increasingly vague while approaching the horizon, except if the atmosphere is perfectly limpid. This image carried out with a super great angle (15 mm) makes it possible to obtain a powerful, clear composition ad infinitum foreground.
According to the season, the hour, the atmosphere or the geographical position of the place where one operates the nature of lighting can vary considerably. The sun shining in a pure atmosphere gives bright colours and saturated, contrasted values, dense shades unless the ground does not reflect the light (sand, snow, salt, water), the shades have contours cleans.
The sun veiled by light white clouds attenuates contrast appreciably and decreases the promptness of the colours. The shades have a softened and quite detailed contour. If the sky is grey and slightly covered the colours are not saturate and general contrast is weak.
Generally the best results are obtained with a sun slightly veiled or shining. The grey sky, very covered gives dull colours and a lack of contrast which withdraws any feeling of relief to the images.
The evening or the morning the light is yellow-orange, this gives to the images hot tonalities.
A light fog or industrial smoke colours also the sunlight with often dominant blue because of the absorption of the highest radiations of the solar spectrum by the steam in suspension in the atmosphere.
The various directions of the light modify the colours and contrast. When the sun is located behind the apparatus the colours are right and the blue of the sky is well saturated. The landscape can miss relief because all its plans receive same illumination. Moreover the shade of the photographer is likely to project itself on the ground in the foreground. When the sun is of 3 quarters before the images are well modelled and agreeably contrasted, the feeling of volume is correctly translated and the well spread out plans of the landscape. This traditional lighting is appropriate in many cases even if it is not original. When the sun is on the side lighting has a less usual effect dominating for a landscape. Per good weather contrast is likely to be high but it is enough not to include too important remote regions in framing. The colours are deafened but can be harmonious.
When the sun is in semi-against-day, that is to say of 3 quarters postpones, lighting is perfect for a not very broken landscape, the remote regions are not very important except if the sun is low on the horizon. Per good weather general contrast is increased and it occurs a strong no saturation of the colours. If the atmosphere is a little misty these effects are marked. You will obtain a dark image with detailed high lights if you pose for the high lights. While posing for the shades, on the contrary, in fact the high lights will be over-exposed while the dark zones will be quite detailed. Into full against day, when the sun is in the field set ablaze by the objective in general the luminous disc is too much luminous to be recorded correctly at the same time as the other elements of the landscape.
Thus is you wait until the sun hides behind a vertical natural obstacle of the composition (tree, building) either you carry out an assembly of 2 images (objectives of 200mm and 28mm here) or you wait until the atmosphere becomes nebulous because of the fog or the fog. The full back-light gives very contrasted images where only the elements cutting out on the sky are represented by black silhouettes. While largely posing there will be some details in the shades, by over-exposing the high lights will make a luminous halation corroding the contour of the objects.
Never forget that the lines and the forms compose the rhythm of your images. A good draftsman manages to evoke any object, any movement with some straight lines or curves or a simple arabesque.
The lines are the true framework of the image. Certain lines of a subject are essential and they characterize it, the rails of a railway line, the horizon which separates what belongs to the ground of what constitutes the sky, in manner symbolic system it evokes the infinite one since all the horizontal lines converge there. There exist also lines which wrap contours, the forms, which separate the nuances from colours or the shade of the light. The curved lines evoke femininity, softness, the straight lines represent virility and the rigor. The horizontal ones suggest the calm one, the rest whereas the repeated verticals inspire by the feelings of size or spiritual rise. The oblique lines evoke the movement and the intersected lines can suggest only feverish and disordered agitation. The ratio of the lines between them and their repetition in the surface of the image creates the rhythm which can be equal and monochromic or on the contrary accelerated, by the effect of prospect for example.
An element of the image which should not be forgotten is the colour. In the image the various colours do not specify only the limits and the nature of the objects. They also draw up relationship between them which one calls harmony if these colours join, or contrasts if they are opposed. One must take account of the nuances coloured to create a harmonious unit and/or agreeably contrasted. To play with the colours inevitably does not consist in associating saturated colours contrasting highly like the complementary ones for example. The colours take more importance and more agreeably marry when they discrete and are moderated, of a subtlety sometimes great. You can exploit multiple harmonies and multiple contrasts close to each other in the same image.