Task 14: Landscape Photography

We are going to learn a bit about landscapes so that we can prepare for our next task, which of course is to paint our own landscape 🙂

Anyone who has a camera can capture great scenery but only a photographer can connect emotionally with the environment in order to express something personal. What we want to try to achieve here is something personal that is right there in front of you.


Prior to the 18th century, landscape was painted only as a backdrop for its main subject. But later on in the century, artists such as John Constable and William Turner had started romanticising the environment, using it as a THE MAIN subject in paintings.


William Turner

John Constable


Photography was invented at a time when western cultures were travelling! It was used as a medium for documenting how amazing the natural environment was, and it usually included the small details.

The first photographic movement was born a couple of years after Constable and Turner and was known as the “pictorial photography”.

Pictorial photographers believed that their field is more than just an objective, mechanical media. Photography was not just about the information contained by the images they produced, but rather, about the effect and the mood they translate.

The break from pictorial photography was started by a group called the F.64. Some of its members included prominent photographers such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams who produced images using the smallest apertures (f.64) and on large format cameras. This gave them maximum sharpness and detail in their work.

Group f.64 photographers concentrated on landscape photography—notable examples include:

Adams’ Winter Yosemite Valley

This group created images that were close-ups of items from the natural environment, such as plants and pieces of wood. Many of their subjects highlighted the photographer’s creative intuition and ability to create aesthetic order out of nature’s chaos. Members of Group f.64 concentrated on the ordinary object seen in extraordinary ways.



Industrial subjects, shapes, and surfaces are prominent in the work of Edward Weston, Edwards, Lavenson, and Noskowiak, while Adams and many of these same artists were drawn to the geometric and cubist shapes of New Mexican pueblo architecture.


Edward Weston


The aim of landscape photography is to express the emotion or mood in a landscape at a particular point in time. How do you capture an image to meet this purpose?

Landscape photography is not just about the beauty of nature. It is the depiction of  the natural landscape as seen from an urban dweller’s point of view. Landscape images now depict alternative realities. They can be used as a political tool showing the differing values of society.

The traditional way in which we see landscapes has changed due to the development of technology- this has affected our world, and thus our photography. It could be cluttered and maybe not as harmonious as it once was.

Landscape photography is a way for photographers to explore their personal relationship with their environment, a way to interact and respond to your surroundings.

A great time to take photographs is at dusk, not in the middle of the night. During this time, the remaining light of the day will cast colourful shadows on the landscape.

We all know how important composition is when it comes to delivering your message through images- we have spoken about this many times before. In photography, the horizontal line is one of the most powerful elements you can use to compose your shot.

Your eyes see landscapes in a horizontal format, so this is usually how a landscape photograph is taken. You must seek a great vantage point and experimenting with many shots will help you initially to find the best one.

Putting the horizontal line in the middle of the frame is best avoided (remember the rule of thirds from our earlier lessons?) and you should also consider what your foreground will be. Will it be the sky? Or perhaps there is another interesting element?

If you decide to remove the horizon on the image, then you are creating a closed landscape. Creating a sense of depth is more difficult with a closed image, but it isn’t impossible to achieve. It can create great textures and another, less traditional take on a landscape image.

There are many more techniques to try and think about, such as your use of lighting or the use of a wide angle lens. Be creative and you’ll get a magical shot.

It’s not about travelling to somewhere amazing… it is about seeing what is amazing right there in your own environment.


So this task is to explore with landscape photography and capture a great shot with meaning and purpose. We can then prepare to paint from your image 🙂


Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


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