When we discuss boring landscape photos the problem is usually the result of improper exposure, flat lighting, or unappealing colors. Hence, the solution typically involves adjustments made during editing process.
Today we’re switching things up with a quick fix that’s accomplished in the camera with whatever gear you own. In essence, this lesson is all about a unique approach that delivers a choice of compelling images on location, while keeping you from shooting photos that all look the same.
Instructor Mike Smith is a long-time British landscape photographer who posts weekly tutorials designed to help others make the best images possible in the great outdoors. In this nine-minute episode he introduces a method borrowed from motion picture directors who often open a film with a wide “establishing shot,” followed by a somewhat closer perspective, and then a tight shot of the protagonist.
Smith calls this approach “Wide, Medium, and Close-Up,” and it pertains to photographers in the field who come upon an interesting scene, make a photo or two, and then move on to another spot where they do the same thing. And this is a recipe for boring same-old-same-old images.
The approach recommended by Smith is really just a different mindset that he says really changed his photography. Now when he arrives at an appealing scene he first shoots a wide shot to capture an expansive vista. Then he swaps out his wide-angle lens for one with a longer focal length “and starts picking out interesting objects within the frame.”
As you’ve probably guessed, it’s now time for a longer telephoto lens to capture eye-catching detail shots. In fact, Smith says he normally captures three close-ups for every wide shot he makes. He provides several examples of how effective this technique can be, and includes captions with exposure and focal length details so you know exactly what he did.
We suggest that you visit Smith’s very popular YouTube channel for more great advice—especially if landscape photography is your thing.
And be sure to check out a related tutorial we posted earlier, explaining how another pro captures sharp outdoor photos with long telephoto lenses.