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10 top tips for outstanding landscape photos

PUBLISHED: 10:59 02 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:08 02 November 2015

A view of the coastline from the summit of Golden Cap, at dawn ©National Trust Images/David Noton

A view of the coastline from the summit of Golden Cap, at dawn ©National Trust Images/David Noton

©National Trust Images/David Noton

Former Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and a judge in this year’s South West Coast Path Photographic Competition, David Noton, reveals the secret of taking an award-winning image

David NotonDavid Noton

Plan your shoot: Great shots don’t happen by accident, they are the product of painstaking planning and preparation. Get your boots on and find a good location. Understand the light and how it changes over the 24 hour cycle.

Have an idea: The more you can visualise the picture and plan the lighting, the better the likelihood of success. Be prepared to return to the same location again and again until you get the right light and conditions. It’s better to return with one strong picture rather than 20 mediocre efforts.

Be meticulous: Hone your photographic technique and work in a logical way to extract the maximum quality possible. Be meticulous - check focus, depth of field, exposure and tripod stability to make sure that you are getting the very best from your equipment. Familiarity with your equipment is essential; you don’t want to be fiddling with settings when the often-fleeting best light is illuminating the subject.

Be original: It’s tempting to head for the most dramatic locations but try to come up with something photographic that is unique to your vision; create something different from the familiar or go beyond the beaten track. Creating such originality isn’t easy but far more rewarding. These are the pictures that you will treasure most in the years to come.

Stop travelling: Slow down and get beneath the surface of a place and observe the light on the landscape over several days. Have a plan for your trip, but leave as much freedom and flexibility built in to be able to react to local conditions and opportunities.

Keep it simple: The best compositions are always the simplest. Sweep your eye from corner to corner of the frame and ask yourself if there’s anything included that doesn’t deserve to be there. Photography is the art of knowing what to leave out. Less is more.

See the light: Consider the nature of the light and where it is coming from. The light can often become the subject itself. The right light will lift a shot immeasurably, in contrast to a scene illuminated by light from the wrong direction or at an unsuitable time of day.

Consider perspective: Lens choice is all about perspective, so that means deciding about the relationship between foreground and background within the image area. Wide lenses accentuate foreground interest, longer lenses emphasise the true scale of distant objects, while medium focal length lenses render a natural balance between the two.

Understand: Familiarity with your equipment’s capabilities is crucial. A camera’s auto focus and exposure modes can be so good that it’s tempting to think we can just switch them on then just point and shoot, but the more we understand about how they work and which modes are suitable for what situations the better.

Enjoy: When a trip is going well a momentum develops with one great photo session following another in a seemingly endless stream of fabulous locations and exhilarating opportunities. These are the times to be savoured. Enjoying your photography is the key. The best pictures will come when you are enjoying your photography the most.


To find out more about David’s work visit davidnoton.com

Enter the South West Coast Path Photographic competition

Amateur and professional photographers are encouraged to enter their best pictures of the South West Coast Path in this annual photographic competition, which closes on 1st December 2015. The 12 winning photographs will feature in the South West Coast Path 2017 calendar with the 1st prize winner taking the front page. And Helen Stiles, Editor of Dorset Magazine will pick her favourite entry featuring the Coast Path in Dorset, for the Editor’s Award. The winner gets a Dorset Magazine subscription and a year’s membership to the South West Coast Path Association.

Need inspiration? Last year’s winners are in the 2016 calendar from southwestcoastpath.org.uk. Each copy sold raises a minimum of 25p for the South West Coast Path Association for Path improvements. Full details of prizes and how to enter, along with terms and conditions at southwestcoastpath.org.uk/photo-competition.


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