All of us start off as novices, but the basics of photography are pretty easy to learn. Exposure and focusing soon become second nature, but what about composition? I have come across a few people who never grasp what makes a good composition. If you take them to a great location, in perfect light, they will set up their camera and turn to you and say ‘Okay, where’s the picture?’ They require you to adjust the camera for them and then zoom in the lens to make each composition. Left to their own devices, they just point the camera at the scenery, take a wide-angle shot and then try to crop bits off on the computer later to make it look a bit better.
The majority of landscape photographers fall into this category. At any location they can be left to find the conventional horizontal, wide-angle compositions for themselves. While they are doing this I sometimes walk around behind them and photograph distant details of the scene with a telephoto lens. Things like an S-shaped curve on the shoreline with a lone rock and a few ripples, or the shoulder of a mountain as it plunges down into the woodland, with a small cloud of mist rising up into the light.
When they have finished making their compositions they often ask ‘Okay, where are we going next?’ At that point ...