Accurately capturing the vastness of a landscape scene is one of the greatest limitations of photography, and frequently troubles photographers. Adding a sense of length to landscape imagery may not be as difficult as you think. By making simple adjustments to your location, bringing the right equipment, and being willing to crop your images creatively, you can create length and even a sense that the scene continues beyond the frame without end. Use the following tips to create images that will challenge the viewer’s sense of time and space and you will be sure to have images that create dialogue from viewers.
To create these memorable images you must first have the right equipment. Surprisingly, you don’t need a lot of fancy gear for these types of shots. A simple compact of SLR camera with a wide angle or telephoto lens will get you started. You can use a longer lens to separate subjects and create flatness to the perspective. A flat perspective is important to the final image as it helps to draw the eye outward or upwards, creating the sense of continuing space.
When choosing your scene, you should look for landscapes that you can limit. This means removing parts of the scene, either by zooming in or cropping later, that create an end to your frame. For example, a picture of a field with the horizon in view will essentially close off your image. Your viewer’s eye will not travel beyond the horizon. Compare that first picture with a picture of a field without the horizon in view. The image without the horizon will cause the viewer’s eye to stay within the frame and explore the vastness within the image. The viewer will extrapolate that the image extends beyond what they have been given, thus creating a sense of infinity to the image.
You should also pay careful attention to the geometrics of the image. A viewer’s eye will follow a straight line, so be especially clever about where you place straight lines. Lines should be placed outwardly in an image to create a sense of vastness. You can do this by angling the shot so lines lead to the edges of the image. You can also do this by zooming in, removing horizons and other limiting factors, and leaving lines drawing outward. And of course you can always crop the digital image later to get the desired effect.
Finally, careful placement of the subject can improve the sense of never ending space. A subject should not be overwhelming or large in scale compared to the surrounding landscape. Consider zooming out from the subject. A small subject in a large space will suggest immense size to the viewer. Try these techniques the next time you head outdoors to capture the vastness of nature and inspire the viewer.