What are the height advantages in Landscape photography?
I will probably state some obvious truths here in my attempt to justify getting high in landscape photography. But as important as finding high ground is in wilderness survival, I would like to include the concept in my photography survival kit-bag. The main advantage to finding higher vantage point is the way the height can open up your middle ground.
For starters, I don’t necessarily mean shooting from a higher position, although the advantages will be discussed later. The initial intention when I am telling the photographer to get high, is to force them to be thinking like a scout or explorer. If you are in a new territory and you need to create a world-class image in the next few hours, then I would suggest that finding a high ground fairly early could give you the edge. Getting to that high ground should always be achieved with full safety considerations, know your physical limitations before attempting to climb any strange rock face.
What do you do when you’re up there?
What I do is survey the land. The background is often the easy part in landscape photography, it would normally be “Those mountains over there” or “That blazing sunset sky”. The trick to working the land is to have a fair idea how the land lies between “Here” and the Background. A bit like a golfer surveying the bumps in the green, the photographer should be looking for attractive paths through the landscape to the trophy background. From a high ground, the photographer can see where the rivers run, where they are straightest and where hills and cottages might make or break the shot.
Here is Seljalandsfoss waterfall from a high position. It is a good way of opening the landscape. Getting high is all about changing the perspective and communicating more of the middle ground.
I got really high for this shot.
So here, we drove up on the mountain road for many kilometers to get to this height. The elevation has done amazing things for the middle ground. See how the mountains have a new perspecive and the river network become interesting because you can see how they merge and weave through the landscape.
Should a high waterfall be photographed from the top or bottom?
I think you should be looking up at a waterfall, don’t you? Also, if we are on the ground level there is much more to explore. There is a lovely hike through the valley or a rough footpath from the top Parking area.