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Landscape photography can be a tricky thing to define. This is plainly a landscape photograph, and so is this. But what about this, or this? The problem we are trying to define landscape photography is that what one person calls a landscape photo, another might consider to be an environmental portrait or an urban landscape or a wildlife photo. For this course, we are going to take more of a classic view of landscape photography and work primarily with shots where the landscape is the main subject of the image.
Our work will be centered on photos whose subject matter is built out of vistas, natural features, and sometimes man-made features that are now part of the scene. There are many reasons that you might choose to shoot a specific landscape. Sometimes a place stirs such emotions in you that you want to try to express those feelings through an image. At other times, you might simply want to report on a location, show it off to other people when you get home. And then there are times when a scene catches your eye simply because of formal elements, a play of light or shadow, or geometry within the scene.
These are all excellent reasons for choosing to take on a shot, for there are no right or wrong ways to select landscape subject matter, just as there are no exact "right" or "wrong" definitions of landscape photography. If you've never shot landscapes before, but have done other types of shooting, you will probably find that most of what you know still applies. Landscapes might present different exposure concerns than what you're used to, and while you probably won't have to worry about approaching strangers or stopping fast-moving action, you will need to think about weather and gear selection, and you might have to pack some things in your bag that you wouldn't take to a location that's closer to civilization.
As with any other type of photography, your primary concern will be light, and your most important practice will be to shoot a lot. Good landscape photos are often discovered as much as they are crafted, and you will stand a much better chance of finding an image if you maximize the time you spend looking through your camera's Viewfinder. For the most part, no matter what your precise definition of landscape photography, and no matter how you choose your subject matter, the technical concerns of landscape photography will be the same. We'll be exploring both the technical and artistic sides of landscape photography in this course, and when you're done, you should have a better idea of how to find shots and how to compose and work them into a finished image.
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