Get to know your top fog locations so at the first sign of it you’ll know where to head. The fog often doesn’t stay around long, so it’s important to get out early and head straight to the best places.Top spots for fog include valleys, forests, over water and fields, and it’s often well worth the effort of heading up for some hill fog.
3. Shoot In Bad Weather
When you’re out in the rain, the temptation is to keep your iPhone tucked away safely in your pocket.
But the next time you’re out in this kind of weather, consider those great landscape shots you could be getting.
Water and iPhones don’t mix well, so be careful not to get your phone wet if you’re shooting in a heavy downpour.
If you’re worried about your damaging your phone, you could invest in a waterproof case such as the Lifeproof case. Or if you have someone to accompany you they’d make a very handy umbrella assistant!
Alternatively, how about shooting from the inside out? If you have a nice view through your house or car window, taking a photo through raindrop-covered glass gives a great moody and slightly abstract feel to a landscape.
4. Make The Most Of Heavy Clouds
Heavy skies add amazing atmosphere to a shot. Big thick clouds will emphasize the bleakness of a landscape, creating incredible drama in your photos.
Dark skies make a great backdrop for a subject in your landscape shots.
Try capturing a lonesome tree, a human figure, or another strong subject with the dark clouds behind.
Or try making the clouds themselves the focus of your shot, giving over the majority of the frame to them.
5. Lose Yourself In A Forest
Forest photography can generate some incredible low-light, moody shots. You can create a fantastic sense of depth in your images with trees that go on as far as the eye can see. Look for interesting groups of trees or individual trees with character. I came across this group of twisted trees deep within a plantation of poker straight fir trees.
Be sure to explore woods and forests when you’re out in the landscape. You might be surprised by what you find!
The forest can be made to look quite different depending on the angle you choose to shoot from. Try getting down low and shooting up to give a great sense of scale for tall trees.
Remember to think about exposure (image brightness) when shooting up into a bright sky. After tapping to set focus on the most important part of the scene, swipe up or down to adjust the exposure.
If you want to see color and detail in the tree tops and trunks, you might need to increase the exposure. If you want to create a dark silhouette of the trees, you’ll probably need to reduce the exposure.
6. Find A Lonely Tree
The evocative image of a lonely tree is a great centre piece to a moody landscape shot.
For a classic minimalist landscape shot, think about the direction that you take the shot from in order to eliminate background distractions.
Try getting down low to make distant objects drop below the horizon. In the photo above, getting down low dropped distant houses out of sight and allowed me to add some interesting foreground detail.
Fog can also be your friend for removing background distractions. It hides objects in the distance, giving you a lovely clean background behind your subject.
A good technique is to take several shots as you approach a lonely tree. This can achieve quite different looks. The following two images were taken in quick succession.
The first makes use of a path to draw your eye past the distant lonely tree:
And then I got a bit closer, allowing the tree to dominate the composition:
7. Include People In The Shot
Placing people in your landscape photos has the benefit of both adding a sense of scale and enhancing the mood.
Body language is great for portraying a mood. Figures with a downcast head, staring into the distance, or braced against the elements all bring an extra moodiness and story to an image.
Silhouettes work well in moody landscape shots as they add a sense of mystery and drama to the picture.
To create a silhouette, shoot toward the light, and reduce the exposure until the subject appears as a dark shape against the brighter background.
Make the most of people creeping into shot – natural stances are great. Work with capturing candid moments, and consider using burst mode on the camera when people are moving – you’ll then be able to select the best image later.
If you have a willing volunteer, you could encourage them to position themselves in a pose to create a certain feel and tell a story with your image.
8. Add Some Foreground Interest
Don’t just think about the bigger picture. Bring something into the foreground of your image to enhance the mood.
Look out for interesting dead plants, spider webs, feathers, etc. that you can use to add interest and a certain atmosphere to your shot.
Focussing on something close also allows you to create a shallow depth of field. This gives you a blurred background, adding an extra sense of mystery to your landscape.
Fences also work well in the foreground. The focal point of the barbed wire fence in the shot below gives a nice blurred effect to the tree in the distance.
9. Look For Interesting Structures
Make an effort to stop and look at things you’d usually pass by, such as pylons lined up across a field, derelict buildings, or remnants of old fences.
These subjects will add a strong focal point to your image, and they can help you tell a more interesting story about the landscape.
Think about how you can best place these objects within your composition for a moody end result.
Try taking shots from different angles and perspectives to see what works best. And make use of any leading lines to draw your eye deeper into the landscape.
10. Tone Down The Color
Muted tones have a wonderfully moody feel. Low light, forests and foggy days are great for getting shots with naturally dulled colors.
But also think about reducing the saturation of the final image in post-processing.
Most editing apps allow you to change basic settings such as saturation, tint, contrast and brightness levels. The free Snapseed app is a great place to start.
In the photo below, the editing allows just a hint of color to come through, while also ensuring the image doesn’t become too dark, and allowing the trees in the foreground to be highlighted.
The muted colors of this edit transport us deep into the dark forest, creating a wonderfully moody atmosphere.