Explain the composition rules of landscape photography in detail

It is not enough to take good photos only with the support of equipment and skilled technology. Photos must be soulful, which comes from the photographer’s idea and intention. That is to say, photos must have visual or emotional impact, which is usually expressed through shooting, composition and lighting. In many cases, composition determines the realization of ideas. A good photo must have a distinct theme, but it depends not only on what the theme is, but also on how the theme is represented and arranged in the picture.

Composition is to express the theme, and refers to making appropriate arrangements for various elements in the photo, and using artistic means to strengthen or weaken some parts of the screen, so as to finally achieve the artistic effect of prominent subject, unified layout and balanced structure. Generally speaking, composition refers to how to arrange people, scenes and objects in the picture to obtain the best layout.

Composition is one of the basic skills of photography. It is the arrangement and processing of elements in the picture to express one’s own intention. Therefore, a good composition is the first element of a good photo. Even if the picture lacks deep emotion, it can at least bring visual beauty.

When shooting, pay attention to the influence of lines, light and color on composition. Sometimes, a single line may determine the success or failure of a photo, while the relationship between light, color and composition is also close, which cannot be ignored in the process of shooting.

IStructural elements and interrelationships of pictures

Structural elements

Just like a good story should have a beginning paragraph, middle content and an end, an expressive photo should include the foreground, subject and background in terms of structure. The subject is the most easily understood, which is the main object of the photographer. The subject in the photo is not only the focus of content expression, but also the main carrier of the photo theme, and also the structure center of the picture composition. It can be a certain subject or a group of subjects.

Foreground is the scene in front of the subject in the photo. Foreground can add a new layer of interest to the picture and bring the audience into the scene of the photo. Foreground largely determines whether the work is brilliant. The background is usually the overall environment behind the main body. Generally speaking, the background is a part of the bad environment, which can be mountains, sea, sky, market, etc. Not all photos need these contents at the same time, but if you can make reasonable arrangements and use levels to create depth, photos will have a stronger expressive force.


The subject should be the first factor considered by the photographer, which also plays a leading role in the composition of the picture. When shooting, first determine the position and proportion of the subject in the picture, and then consider other factors such as the foreground and environment.

After the main body is arranged, the prospect and background cannot be ignored. The foreground can help to express the theme, explain the content, reflect the space characteristics, and show the environment of the shooting scene. For example, the foreground of the picture made of flowers, ice, maple leaves, etc. can leave a distinctive seasonal impression on the viewer, and can also form a corresponding relationship with the subject that contains a specific meaning.

II. Role of prospect

The choice of foreground is very important for shooting wonderful pictures. The foreground has the function of setting off the subject and decorating the environment, and helps to enhance the spatial depth of the picture, balance the composition and beautify the picture.

When many people shoot a magnificent and vast scene, the images in the photos are bland, and they can not capture the shock and beauty felt on the scene, because there is no good arrangement for the level of pictures. When shooting a large scene, it is common to find that the scene is loose and cluttered, which can not catch the reader’s sight at a glance, and lacks a sense of depth and distance. The most effective way is to arrange the foreground in the composition, and the picture will shrink immediately, and people’s vision will focus on a point from the scattered surface. Especially when shooting with ultra wide angle lens, because there are many elements included in the lens, the most important thing is to grasp the foreground. The photo should be the foreground, the subject, the perspective level is clear, and the content is rich.

The choice of prospects is diverse. Rocks, wild flowers, paths and flowing water can all be used as prospects. Take the two photos I took in the rhinoceros horn mountain in Iceland as an example. The Phantom uses a small pool and reflection as the foreground, and the other one uses the haystack on the sand dune as the foreground.

3、 How to use guide lines

A photo without careful composition often lacks focus, so that the viewer does not know where to look. To avoid this situation, guide lines can be arranged in the picture to guide the viewer’s eyes to the subject or the depth of the picture. Using the exaggeration effect of wide angle lens, the visible or invisible lines will disappear in one point. Arrange the main body at the vanishing point, highlight the main body, and at the same time, firmly grasp the sight of the light viewer, increasing the time that the sight stays in the photo.

The guide line is not necessarily a real line, but can be street lamps, rocks, roads, steps, etc. In short, finding an angle is to connect these separate objects. At this time, the photographer needs to have a certain degree of observation.

There is also a special guide line, which is invisible at the scene. In seascape photography, waves are often used as the guide line. Because the human eye can only freeze for a moment, and the camera can record a period of time. The picture presented by the camera is invisible to the human eye on the scene, which is also the unique charm of seascape photography, and the pictures taken will often surprise you. How to use the waves as the guide line requires a certain degree of experience and foresight in shooting seascape.

4、 Explanation of composition form

Basic composition form: Jiugong grid composition

The Jiugong grid composition is also called the three part composition, which is simplified from the golden section principle. The golden section line is an ancient mathematical method. Its founder was Pythagoras of ancient Greece. Under the very limited scientific conditions at that time, he boldly asserted that if the ratio of one part of a line segment to another is exactly equal to the ratio of another part to the whole line segment, that is, 0.618, then such a ratio would give people a sense of beauty. Later, this law was known as the “golden section law”.

This is the most basic composition method. It does not need to be very precise to arrange the subject at the intersection of the “Nine Palaces”. According to people’s visual habits, the upper right corner is the best, followed by the upper left corner. This composition method is more in line with people’s visual habits, making the subject naturally become the visual center, with the characteristics of highlighting the subject and making the picture tend to be balanced.

The rule of thirds is the starting point. There are many forms of composition, not just placing the subject in a certain position on the screen. How to arrange the picture structure is somewhat similar to the geometric problem, which uses lines and shapes to express the relationship between elements. The following illustrates various composition forms with examples.

Reflect the composition form of lines

As a line in the language of photography, it not only has the characteristics of length, direction and position, but also can express dynamics and emotion. The lines can make the photos show a sense of movement and rhythm, make the photos more expressive, and make the viewers’ eyes naturally focus on the main body with the guidance of the lines. The expressive force of lines in photos is irreplaceable by other elements. Different lines can express different emotions.

Lines have the function of generating emotions and guiding the reader’s line of sight. With different line directions, the visual experience and psychological impact given to the viewer will be different. Therefore, when arranging the picture, we should not only make the composition according to the relationship between the subject and the background, but also handle the relationship between lines and the subject, so that the lines are well arranged to set off the subject. At the same time, it is necessary to consider the direction and role of the lines in the picture, and what emotions and psychological feelings will be brought to the viewer.

Lines are everywhere in nature. As long as we have the insight to find lines, we can find beauty from the intricate lines and extract them into the picture, which will bring more tension and imagination to the photos, making them an important element to attract attention in the photos.

The horizontal line is one of the most common lines in photography. It injects a stable and calm mood into the picture and is mostly used in the horizontal composition. The horizontal line will make the picture show a stable, peaceful, vast and comfortable atmosphere, which is often used to show the lake, sea, grassland, etc. The horizontal line can be placed at different positions according to the performance intention and the classic three-way composition.

The vertical line can fully show the height and depth of the scene, giving people a sense of dignity, order, majesty and striving. It is suitable for shooting towering scenery, such as forests, mountains and cliffs, cascading waterfalls, skyscrapers, etc.

Diagonal lines are full of dynamic sense, which makes the picture energetic, easy to produce the convergence trend of lines, attract people’s attention, and achieve the effect of highlighting the main body. Arranging the theme on the diagonal can effectively use the length of the diagonal of the screen to achieve the depth effect and three-dimensional effect. It is often used to shoot water, waterfalls, buildings, roads, etc.

Curve refers to the line with regular changes and arc bending, which is the most elegant line. With the characteristics of extension and change, it can create a sense of rhythm that guides the line of sight in the picture, guide the viewer’s line of sight to move with the curve, feel the aesthetic feeling brought by soft lines, and produce a beautiful, elegant, lively and rhythmic emotional feeling. It is often used to express streams, winding paths, forest paths, continuous mountains, etc. S-shaped composition is also commonly used in portrait photography to show the unique curve charm of female figure.

The convergence line and cross line can make the picture have a strong visual impact effect. The lines or shadows are arranged in A (X) shape with strong perspective, which is conducive to leading the line of sight from all sides to the center. They are the most magical lines to guide the line of sight, and also make the picture more three-dimensional. It is often used in bridge, highway, field and other topics.

Radiation, as the name implies, is a radial line, which reflects the visual effect of diffusion or convergence, and will bring a strong impact. In the radial line, there is usually a central convergence point, and the line of sight converges to the central point or spreads outward with the line, so the radiation can make the picture full of tension. For example, the light from the lighthouse, the glow penetrating the clouds, or the cloud dynamics in the sky with a long exposure.

The composition form embodying the shape

Use lines or color blocks similar to L-shape (C-shape) to surround the objects to be emphasized, so as to highlight the theme. The L-shape is like a half enclosure, which can be either a positive L-shape or an inverted L-shape, both of which can focus people’s attention within the enclosure and make the main body prominent.

The change of scene, tone or color on the screen is in the shape of a cross, which is often used for objects with stable arrangement and combination.

Triangle can also make the picture show a three-dimensional sense of depth, which can be either a regular triangle or an oblique triangle or an inverted triangle, among which the oblique triangle is more commonly used and flexible. The triangle composition is stable, balanced but flexible. Some A-shaped compositions are also triangular.

Symmetrical composition is a composition method that breaks the three-way method. It usually divides the picture into two parts from top to bottom or from left to right to form a symmetrical art picture. It has the characteristics of balance, stability and echo. It is usually used in scenes such as architecture and reflection.

Frame composition is to surround the main body to be displayed with trees, rocks and walls in the foreground in the center, and form a frame with the foreground, so that the viewer can appreciate the main body through the frame. Using the frame of the scene as the foreground can increase the vertical contrast and decorative effect of the picture, and make the picture have a sense of depth and interest. The frame scene composition has a strong visual guiding effect, guiding the vision to focus on the center of the screen, which can be used to highlight the scenes to be displayed in the screen.

Sometimes a photo not only reflects a single composition form, but also presents multiple composition forms at the same time. In the previous example, some photos also have more than two composition forms.

Take the picture above as an example. The picture presents two composition forms, namely, cross and symmetry.

Photos with perfect composition usually require careful understanding, and sometimes patience. After a long and persistent training, it is no longer necessary to think about which form this scene should be used when shooting, and composition will become a part of photographic thinking, and eventually become intuition. When you really understand and master these theories, you can break the rules according to your own ideas and present a more powerful or personal perspective.