3) Work inside a box
I know, normally we tell people to think outside the box. For an intimate landscape, imagine a box ten or 15 feet square and you and your camera are right in the center. What compositions can you find within that box? Keep looking until you’ve found at least two or three shots.
At Going-to-the-Sun Point in Glacier National Park a few years ago, the sunset was mediocre, so I started looking around for something else to shoot. Just a few feet away, on the side of a rock formation, was some colorful lichen that made a much more interesting photo than a bland sunset would have.
Lichen on a rock.
While at Zion National Park in the fall of 2016, I was shooting a narrow slot canyon.
Leaf on textured rock.
Looking down and around, I found this rock with a fallen leaf on it. The shape of the rock wasn’t particularly interesting but the texture was, so I came in close and shot the image you see below.
4) Find the Frame within the Frame
As landscape photographers, we often face the temptation to go big and go wide, trying to fit everything into the frame. Yet, many times a larger, all-encompassing photo wont’ be as interesting as isolating a small part of that grand view. As you start to frame up a shot, ask yourself if there’s a better image to be had by zeroing in on a small part of what you see.
While walking through the village of Burano, Italy, known for its brightly colored houses, the natural urge is to photograph rows of those vibrant houses. Yet this smaller composition is more interesting (to me) and more intimate. The open window provides its own frame within the frame and invites the viewer to imagine what’s going on inside.
Window in Burano.
Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park.
You will also find that a small selection of an otherwise perfectly obvious larger object becomes a mystery when it is singled out and loses the context of the whole. Next time you’re at a waterfall, take off your wide-angle lens and put on a telephoto. Zoom in to a small part of a waterfall and you might be rewarded with an interesting and unusual image, like this one from the Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in New York.