How to Photograph Poetic Landscapes

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Poetry and mood go hand in hand for the most part. A good poetic verse can open up the imagination of an audience and "transport" them to the most fascinating places that their imagination and that of the author can fathom. Photographs can also achieve this, often more vividly than any words alone can.

This technique is two fold; choose a poetic work and record images that seem to add meaning to the written word and captures the essence of the poem itself. The second variation is to build a poem to fit an image or rather write a poetic work around a scene. Moody landscapes are a great source of inspiration that can be readily applied towards this theme, whether you choose a landscape to fit a poem or record an image and then write a poem around it.

Among the first things that one should be concerned about is deciding on what poetic theme to focus on; will it be gloomy, romantic, mood setting, or a strong emotion filled message, and once this is decided then make up a list of suitable locations, best photographic times, needed elements, how will the composition be arranged and so on, as well as the subjects that will comprise the basis for the images. For this particular project, we will try to focus on setting a mood, which it's easier said than done yet can be accomplished with some patience, research and a plan.

Research various locations where some of the elements that you will need can be found, off course this may not be needed if you are very familiar with your particular geographical location. But times should be researched and annotated; Sundown and Sunrise for example. Weather conditions are also important to keep track of; will it be foggy, rainy, windy or sunny.

Choose scenes that have elements of weather such a fog, or mist. Lakes, streams, rivers, and even the ocean are good candidates. Best times are usually early in the morning when there are very few people that can distract you and the ambient temperature is still rather cool and pleasant. Mountain landscapes are also very good platforms; choose scenes that can offer some elements of the sky, snow, a mixture of land and snow, have a water source to be included in the final image and also include some of the surrounding environment to add detail and interest to the shot.

The landscape that you choose for your photographs will dictate the mood of the poem or if you have already chosen which poem to use they will serve to heighten the motif. Choose elements that enhance or complement the poetry.

Although for this project landscape shots are the main subjects, shots that have pleasing architectural element such as quaint small river bridges, and these will work exceptionally well. Other features to consider are old fashion or antique looking tools or equipment such as an old hand powered water pump like the ones seem on rural farmsteads. If the incidental elements that are found within a landscape add to the general scene and complement the mood, then include them in the shot.

Dry and isolated locations can also be good sources of inspiration. A dessert landscape can elicit a feeling of loneliness, isolation and desolation. A deserted alley can do the same. To the contrary a lush and vibrant forest scene can elicit strong feelings of joy, tranquility and romanticism and so can a beautiful Sunset.

People should also be included in at least some of the scenes to add the "human" element. A lonely person on a row boat in the middle of a deserted lake while it is enveloped in a mist or fog can both serve to portray loneliness, mystery or set a romantic mood. Light is also very important; use light that is filtered by the sky, clouds or other weather patterns. Avoid strong midday Sunlight as this can create very strong shadows and this light has a tendency to overpower most subjects.

Although color is the medium of choice for most photographic work, for this project a few monochromatic shots should also be included. This format can be more apt in directing the audience towards a specific element in the image and can elicit a stronger sense of mood simply because it's devoid of any distractions including the use of color, especially appropriate if the scene lacks strong color elements.

If your preference is to shoot during the night hours, then choose static subjects so that you can use a long exposure time. Flash is not really an option since it has the same effect as that of strong Sunlight and it can also overpower the scene rendering minute intricate details and textures awash and unnatural looking. However, shooting during the dark hours of the day will be dependent on the availability of ambient light. Moonlit nights are excellent and shoots should be planned around lunar cycles.

Worth considering would be to accompany each shot with the poetic text or turning the shots into printed samples with the accompanying poem as part of the image which a digital software program can easily do, these can be sold as individual copies. This has been a rather successful practice for some time and continues to be well received by the general public.

Think of the mood that each photo invokes as you see it.

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 4 comments

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Another great photo project. Thanks!


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

randomcreative:Thank you


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

These are beautiful, luis.


LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

FloraBreenRobinson; Thank you, some were taken in Costa Rica, the pier was in Ft. Myers Fl

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