Landscapes are much harder than you might think. Because the photographer has so much to work with, the vast space can be overwhelming. Landscapes require that you organize the foreground, the background and the sky into a whole that communicates a sense of place. Many of the elements of composition mentioned in previous chapters should be brought to bear.
Some scenes will be much more striking at certain times of day. Lines, shape, texture, and pattern should all combine to create an image that holds together. Shadows can be crucial. Many photographers use a close object like a tree or a wall or a small building to help organize the scene, taking the eye from near to far. While landscapes do not move, light can change quite quickly as storm clouds move in or the sun goes behind a mountain. Keep one eye on the weather as you shoot.
Another trick is to frame a scene and then wait for a person to walk along a sidewalk or for a car to come down the road. Most photographers will think of a wide-angle lens and full depth of field as being essential for a landscape. This may be appropriate for some shots, but not all. A wide-angle lens will emphasize the foreground at the expense of the background, for example, while taking in a wide view. A telephoto lens can often pick out an essential detail and also magnify the background considerably so that mountains that might appear far away with a wide-angle lens can appear to be very close with a telephoto shot.
Like portraits, landscapes have always been part of photography.
When the sun gets close to the horizon it moves fast. In fifteen minutes you can take a series of pictures that will all look quite different. It is important to avoid looking at the sun, as it can damage your eyes. The clouds are usually the most colorful part of a sunset, even after the sun has set. Try to use a tree or a rock or a building to help give the sunset a sense of place and organization. The light from a sunset reflected in a window can also be very effective. See the color pages for a series of sunset photos.
When taking pictures at dusk or dawn, it can become difficult for your autoexposure system to determine the right exposure. This happens because there is an extreme difference between light and dark. Take a series of shots so you'll be certain to get satisfying results.
While most people think of sunsets as landscape images, the sunsets over cities, apartment buildings, and highways can be just as stunning.