16.10.2015

Landscape photography with your smartphone

16.10.2015

Landscape photography with your smartphone

Photo 1

In many aspects, a smartphone is the ideal camera for landscape photography: its fixed wideangle lens (usually 35 mm) is the most suitable, the sensor works well in daylight conditions and, above all, it is always to hand when you discover a natural scene worth capturing on film whilst you’re out and about.

However, if you want to take it further than just the classic picture postcard and express your creativity in this genre, it is worth stopping to think for a moment about the landscape style you wish to pursue.

Landscape photography has three main styles:

Descriptive Landscape

Photo 2

The descriptive style is the most naturalistic and faithful to the scene being photographed; the aim is to capture the moment in all its detail.
For this style, it is important to have good lighting and depth of field, in order to represent the subject in both its entirety and in all its detail.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s using the ProCamera app, and then edited with Snapseed
and DistressedFX

Impressionistic Landscape

Photo 3

An impressionistic vision of a landscape aims above all to capture the emotions the image arouses. For this style, the photographer’s sensitivity is more important than his technique, but this style can benefit from insight such as under- or over-exposure with the objective of creating a more uniform image that is a jumble of colours and shapes.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s using the ProCamera app, and then edited using Snapseed and DistressedFX.

Abstract Landscape

Photo 4

In abstract landscapes, you search for shapes, especially geometric ones, that don’t recall reality, but that describe an intentionally biased view. In this style, the eye of the photographer identifies the opportunities that the landscape has to offer and then he experiments with several viewpoints until he achieves the desired image.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 4s using the Pro HDR app, and then edited with Snapseed.

Whichever landscape style you prefer, here is some useful advice that can help you obtain improved results:

Find a centre of interest within the frame

Photo 5

However much certain views of nature can be beautiful and harmonious just as they are, the human brain always searches for the subject in an image.
When you point the camera at your landscape, always ask yourself: What is the subject? It can be the sun, a tree that stands out in particular, the peak of a mountain… but it has to be the unequivocal focus of interest within the photo.
If you can’t find it, your photo will probably turn out dull or flat.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s with the Pro HDR app and subsequently edited using Snapseed and DistressedFX.

Make use of convergent lines

Photo 6

The surest way to prevent the gaze of the observer from wandering, unable to find a centre of interest, is to guide it; convergent lines are one of the most powerful tools for giving perspective and a three-dimensional aspect to an image.
When you find lines in your landscape (paths, fences, rivers, electricity wires….), try to use them as tools for putting together your image.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s with the Pro HDR app and subsequently edited using Snapseed and Modern Grunge.

Make use of the foreground

Photo 7

The landscape is made up of a lot more than just that which you see on the horizon and, when you compose your image, you should try to include other elements in the foreground.
Foreground subjects add depth to the image and serve as a point of entry to your photograph.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s with the Pro HDR app and subsequently edited using Snapseed and Stackables.

Use the diagonals

Photo 8

Diagonal elements create an unbalanced feel and, consequently, a sense of movement in an image.
You can find diagonals in nature, but you can also create them by changing your viewpoint or taking the shot at an angle, when the perspective allows it (this trick is known as the Dutch Angle and derives from Flemish painting).

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s with the Pro HDR app and subsequently edited using Snapseed and Stackables.

Appreciate the people or animals in your landscape

Photo 9

Nature isn’t just about mountains, meadows and forests, but also the species that inhabit them, and often a landscape is best characterised by the animals, such as this mountain pasture.
Animals and people are centres of attention par excellence and they enrich the image content. However, avoid placing them in the centre of the frame; if possible, position them at the thirds intersections.

This photo was taken with an iPhone 5s with the Pro HDR app and subsequently edited using Snapseed and DistressedFX.

Other advice for landscape photography
To conclude, here are a few other creative and practical tips for landscape photography:
• The best times of day for landscape photography are sunset and dawn.
• The atmospheric conditions should be actively included as part of your landscape composition: fog, storm clouds and wind are all part of our photographic palette.
• In the case of low-light conditions, mount your smartphone on a tripod to improve the image quality.
• Make use of reflections in pools of water to create symmetries or to depict a view through its reflection.

Davide Capponi

Davide Capponi is a manager-cum-mobile photographer and is passionate about post-editing. His work has been on display in Italy and abroad, and published in Italian newspapers and magazines. He is a founding member of New Era Museum http://neweramuseum.org/. You can contact David via his blog, http://davidecapponi.com/ on Instagram http://instagram.com/rubicorno/, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/davidecapponi.iphoneography and on Twitter https://twitter.com/Rubicorno

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