All the world's cameras, films and other photographic equipment are no more than tools for making landscape pictures. Cameras don't think for themselves. Whether we use digital or film camera, the same photographic principles apply.
We don't have to stick to many rules to produce great landscape images, but knowing what they are will make your pictures more successful. There are two salient points in landscape photography: how to compose your image, and how to use available natural light in any given situation.
Lets start off with light: There are three basic qualities of light: intensity, direction and colour.
Intensity: refers to the strength of light. If the sun is high in the sky, light can be harsh and too strong. Cloudy days bring soft and defused light.
Direction: this refers to light placement. There are three categories of light placement: front, back and side-lighting. Side lighting produces more texture between light and shade.
Colour: the colour of sunlight varies depending upon conditions and time of day. If the sun shines at the beginning or the end of the day, the colour of the light will be much warmer, and will lead to a much more dramatic scene.
Understanding natural light will develop your ability to see. You will start to see the beauty of light in a different and exciting way.
In landscape photography it is very important to take care with composition. A normal scene can be transformed by paying close attention to detail. Composition is all about how you arrange the elements in front of you.
Here are a few ideas in which you may find useful.
Lead with lines: To lead with lines into the main part of the scene will draw your viewer into your image. These lines don't have to be straight. Lines, such as tracks, riverbanks or fences, may work successfully.
Foreground interest: Simple foreground objects can give your landscape a greater sense of depth. Use a small aperture (f/22) to keep the entire scene in focus.
Natural frames: Frame your scene with the elements all around you. This will focus attention on the main part of the picture. Trees make great natural frames.
We use filters in photography to bring back an image to the way our eyes have perceived the original scene. Some times it's not possible for our cameras to record an exact scene - so we have to rely on the manufacturers of camera products.
If you are only going to buy one filter for your landscape photography a polarizing filter is the one you'll use most. A polarizing filter can be used with colour or black and white and is probably the most important filter on the market today.
Lets take a quick look at the science behind it. A polarizing filter is made up of two pieces of glass which when rotated cut out all glare on non-metallic surfaces. Light travels in waves - these waves travel in all directions and at different rates and speeds. The polarizing filter works by limiting the amount of waves that enter your lens. You decide how many waves pass through your lens by rotating the filter.
The polarizing filter is most effective with side lighting.
For example: if you are taking a picture of a scenic lake area and there is a messy reflection of the clouds in the lake; it will be too much of a distraction in the final picture. This can be simply removed by rotating the polarizing filter 'til the clouds disappear. You can view the filter working in the viewfinder of your camera.
The polarizing filter will also darken the blue sky to give it a strong rich colour. It will make mist stand out and can be also used to give fast flowing water a misty effect.
You don't have to rotate the filter the full amount to get the maximum affect you need, sometimes you will only have to rotate it a small amount. You can decide best for yourself by viewing through your viewfinder while you rotate the polarizing filter. This filter is not just for a landscape photographer.
There are many different uses for a polarizing filter, which make it so important for all photographers. Property photographers would find this filter extremely handy - when taking an image of a shop front, the polarizing filter will remove glare that reflects off the glass.
Take extreme care when calculating exposure. Remember that you will have to add two stops of light when using the polarizing.