This little mistake can make any grand landscape look like a beginner snapshot. Always check your horizon to make sure that it's straight. A crooked horizon can easily create a poor and uninteresting image. To get a straight horizon, use a bubble level or, if your camera has it, the horizon level on the LCD screen. At the very least, you can turn on a grid overlay on most cameras allowing you to line up one of the horizontal lines with the horizon.
The other way to make a great beginner shot is by putting the horizon right in the center of your frame. This chops the image in half and makes it look very unnatural and unattractive. Keep the rule of thirds in mind while composing the horizon and strive for 1/3 land and 2/3 sky ratio or vice versa.
Only Shooting in Landscape Orientation
There's a reason why it's called landscape orientation. This is traditionally the best way to capture any landscape scene. But don't feel limited by this. Using portrait orientation can sometimes create a very unique and interesting landscape photo.
This one has two meanings and beginning landscape photographers make the mistake of doing both. The first is limiting yourself to shooting with a wide angle lens. Much like the landscape orientation, this is the most common way to shoot landscapes and is often the best way. But there are time when shooting with a normal or telephoto lens can create a much more dynamic image. The other mistake beginners make is shooting wide open. This means they're shooting at their maximum aperture setting. In landscape photography, this is not optimal because you often want as much of your scene in focus as possible. If you're shooting wide open, you're likely to have parts of your scene out of focus, even if you're shooting with a wide angle lens.
Lack of Foreground Interest
This is one of the things that can most dramatically improve your landscape images. Many beginners focus on the mountain range or the distant flower covered hill, but few will recognize the importance of adding a foreground to their image. A foreground gives a photo depth. Without it, an image will often look flat and uninteresting. Whether it be a flower, tree, or pile of rocks, anything that separates the foreground from the background will often bolster the photo's interestingness.
Shooting Too Fast
It often takes more than a couple of shots to get the perfect image. When you see an incredible landscape photo, you might think that the photographer was just strolling on by, happened to see the scene, and nabbed a quick shot. But more often than not, beautiful landscape photos take patience and dedication. Many landscape photographers will wait in one spot all day in anticipation for the right light for their scene. Many also come back to the same location again and again to see how the scene changes in different weather, lighting, seasons, etc.
Too Much Clutter
The best landscape photos are often the most simplistic. When you try to incorporate everything into your scene, it can become very distracting. Instead of adding elements to your photos, try eliminating them. Maybe you don't need the whole mountain range, just a section. Perhaps the one cloud floating in the sky is more interesting than the flower covered valley below. Experiment and find out what works best.
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