Tips for Landscape Photo Reference
- Strong light and shadow patterns make painting easier. Morning and evening light has a nice angle. The middle of the day and overcast days can make landscape forms look flat. Try to get a sideways light across trees and/or buildings. To do this, stand facing the sun with your arms extended. Look over either shoulder--this is the direction you should be shooting.
- Either the sky or the land should dominate--try not to position your horizon right down the center of the photo. 1/3 sky : 2/3 land or vice-versa is a good bet.
- Think about what is in the foreground--the closest part of the scene to you.
- Consider how a curved road or path can lead your eye through the landscape
- An effective landscape can be as simple as a pile of bricks by a road. It doesn’t have to be a view of the Grand Canyon. Everything depends on how you paint it, and any subject can be great if you care about it.
- Try to limit your scene to 2 or 3 large shapes. In the photo at right, the land counts as one shape and the sky as another. In the photo below, we have sky, tree, and ground. Within these big shapes, there is detail, but it is secondary to the big shape.
- Notice as you take photos--is there a subject you keep going back to or a time of day you prefer? Take note of your preferences: this is the beginning of developing a style.
Think when you take a photo: What will the painting I make from this photo be about?
- Is it about a particular building, or a special tree?
- Is it about a time of day you love?
- Is it about how the sun strikes the water or some other part of the landscape?
- Is it about a particular color you find pleasing?
- Is it about ______________________________?