Popular photography of MauritiusRead more
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY - WHAT FOR?
Why do we photograph landscapes?
Most of the time landscape photography is done freely and without being ordered by a client. Hence the profit is minimal.
Photographers who earn their living solely from landscape photography are very rare. Photographers are generally people who live by sight and who appreciate natural beauty. They are also fascinated by light. Another prerequisite for this profession. Both for the creative possibilities of studio lighting and for the beauty of natural light atmospheres. This is why photographers are always fascinated by natural landscapes. Even if there are other types of subjects, whose photographs sell more easily and are financially more interesting.
There is another fact: many photographers often travel because of their profession. They come across the most fascinating natural landscapes during their travels. What could be easier than to reproduce these experiences in impressive - professional - pictures and to prove the photographic know-how. This is also part of the fascination for natural landscape photography.
Every landscape has its own character. Whether it is a smooth beach, which is lost in the endless blue of the sea, the raw and windy tundra with minimal vegetation or bizarre rock formations in the high mountains. Each landscape has its own face. To capture this individual character as well as possible in pictures and to fix it is a great challenge for the creative photographer.
THE LANDSCAPE ARTISTICALLY INTERPRETED
One might think that natural landscapes are hardly subjects for creative photography. The landscape is there, the lighting is given, and anyone can make a picture of it.
But one realizes how creative landscape photography can be, when one looks at the amazing works of great landscape photographers, and compares their results to the natural scene.
The lighting is optimal and gives the image an impressive atmosphere. Every detail plays. It's as if the "master" had ordered the cows on the pasture by megaphone to get into position. A branch cleverly hides a disturbing detail. We would not have even seen it. But this detail would have bothered us later on for years.
It is not only the time of day, but also the season that is perfectly chosen. If the photographer had taken the picture only a week later, the flowering period would have passed. The fruit trees would hardly have been distinguishable from the forest in the background. Finally, let's look at the cloud formation. It's amazing how dramatic it makes the image look.
A coincidence? Monitoring the weather situation for days? What filter did he use? So many questions. The more we deal with this kind of example, the more we recognize the artistic and creative aspect of landscape photography. The more unique and unrepeatable the images produced become.
WHERE TO FIND THIS ARTISTIC SIDE
But where do we find landscapes that we can creatively translate into meaningful images? There's a saying that goes, "Why look far and wide for what's right in front of you? The landscapes we see every day in our direct environment seem uninteresting and unattractive photographically speaking. This is especially true for our commute to work.
And yet, it is precisely these landscapes that we should be interested in. First of all, we have the advantage of geographical proximity and the possibility to quickly make a quality image when the lighting is especially evocative. Then we can repeat this kind of shooting in different lighting conditions. This can give a very interesting portfolio later on. Finally it is eco-responsible.
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY IN ADVERTISING
In advertising we are looking more and more for landscape shots.
This is especially the case for products close to nature in the most diverse branches. For example, detergents, cosmetics, fashion, beverages, food products, furniture, agricultural products, but also cars and machines. Things for which advertising agencies and direct customers need good landscape photographs.
It's all about showing "a healthy world" in pictures to sell products in an ecological way.
Or simply to position them better in the market. It is therefore interesting for the photographer to have such uses in mind. A stock of this kind of photographs will allow to collaborate with one or several image agencies. Apart from the purely documentary shots, many images of natural landscapes appear in the most diverse publications. They are used for travel magazines, to illustrate an article on a remote or especially interesting country.
Good landscape photographs are commonly needed for other purposes. The souvenir industry, whose sales figures should not be underestimated, is always looking for current photos for postcards and souvenirs of all kinds. And the more people travel, the greater the demand.
FROM THE IDEA...
When you want to do exceptional work in landscape photography, you need, as with most creative tasks, a clear idea and concept.
Photography is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration. This also applies to landscape photography.
The first thing to do is to find suitable subjects while hiking or driving. Note where you've seen scenes that are worthwhile. What time of day would probably be best. What to look out for in particular and if possible add a snapshot or small copy to these notes. It is important to know the landscape to be photographed. You should know the way to get there and the point of view from which you want to take your picture. This will save you the tedious search for the ideal point, with all your heavy photographic equipment.
Also, find out if the chosen vantage point is on a public or private property. All this preliminary work is time consuming. They can be done before the day that presents the ideal weather conditions. Another point concerns the right season for the shooting. Each season has its own particular charm. It is part of your concept to choose spring, summer, fall or winter to do your work.
...TO THE IMAGE
You can also ask yourself if you want to repeat the same shot at regular intervals in different seasons, which ultimately results in an interesting portfolio.
- Spring presents nature awakening with trees in bloom and bright colors. The delicate green shows a whole palette of intermediate tones. Flowering fields are an ideal foreground.
- Summer is rich in sunny days with often flat lighting. The days to make good pictures are longer. The morning and evening hours offer interesting lighting. On hot summer days, cumulus clouds form in the sky. But be careful when using long focal lengths at high temperatures, the glittering air creates blur.
- Autumn delights us with the enchanting colors of the deciduous forests, which only last for a few days. Then these colors take on a dull brown tone. On the other hand there are very clear days in autumn for long distance shots, but also foggy atmospheres with sunbeams coming through.
- Winter often gives an impression of desolation, and it takes a lot of diligence to photograph in winter according to a given concept. Snow-covered surfaces, without footprints, animals or ski tracks, are boring. Frosty trees in the backlight, on the other hand, are dream subjects. To accentuate the blue of the sky you can use a polarizing filter.
IDEA AND REALIZATION
Landscape photography is not just a simple photo of nature. Landscape photography conveys a message in which the central subject, which acts as a point of attraction for the viewer, plays a primary role.
Other elements of the composition must clearly submit to it. The main subject can be a mountain, a river, a hedge that advances in the image, a tree or any other subject. Nature is full of them. But be choosy when choosing your subjects. Choose one that has captivating shapes and lines and that fits well with its surroundings.
Accurate framing is an important part of creativity.
Landscape photography is all about framing. A general photograph made with an extreme wide-angle lens is often nothing more than a simple reproduction of a landscape, but certainly not the worked image of a landscape. So be critical and don't compromise. If the chosen subject and the possible framing is not quite convincing, forget that scene and look for another one. Often when researching, a subject promises more than the image will express later on. When considering a subject, I always take five points into consideration:
The important points:
- How does the space feel to me? How deep can it be divided (foreground, middle ground, background)? What is the interesting part? Is a high point of view advisable to obtain more depth? Or on the contrary, should I choose a low point of view to reduce the impression of depth?
- What lighting is appropriate for this landscape? Should the terrain be accentuated by hard backlighting, or would side or even front light be better? Or would diffuse fall lighting be best? It's the kind of lighting that will decide the ideal time to shoot.
- Are the formations in the field interesting? Should we show a lot (with a high horizon) or a little (with a low horizon)? Are there details that should be hidden, because they interfere with the composition of the image?
- Should we take into account in the image certain events in nature (sunset...) that give an additional tension to the shot? At what time of day are they located? Unusual lighting in the landscape always creates additional tension.
- What is the object of the shot? Is it obvious enough, visible? How can its effect or expression be enhanced?
I purposely ask the question of the object at the end.
If I come to the conclusion that the scene does not represent a valid subject and that the message is missing in this image, I do not bother to set up my tripod and I leave...
POINT OF VIEW AND PERSPECTIVE
Perspective is the flat representation of relationships and subjects in space.
With the help of photography we transpose a three-dimensional scene into a two-dimensional reproduction. But the impression of depth, the distribution of subjects in space must be preserved, even accentuated. This is one of the essential elements of expression in landscape photography.
Let's say it clearly: Perspective is not influenced by the focal length of the lens, but only and solely by the point of view from which the photographer is standing. The focal length of the lens determines the image angle and the size of the subject in the image, without influencing the perspective. The most important factor in the choice of perspective is the photographer's point of view. Often it is not at all easy to position oneself at the right place. Very low shots require a tripod that allows you to work close to the ground. This is only possible with some professional tripods. Also, very high points of view are sometimes difficult to reach. Hunter's markers are often welcome.
Also worth mentioning is the aerial perspective, which is beyond our control, but which can create atmosphere. It is the atmospheric haze in space that creates the atmosphere. It presents the different planes in decreasing intensity of colors and tones. The further away the subjects are, the less colorful and distinct they are. This effect is especially noticeable on foggy days. This gives an interesting staggering of the subjects in space, especially noticeable in backlighting.
LIGHT AS A WAY TO CREATE A STYLE
As far as light is concerned, landscape photography is completely dominating us!
While in studio photography we can move and rotate our light sources at will. In landscape photography we depend entirely on the position of the sun and the right weather conditions. If the subject is close to our home, it is thinkable to jump in. Even when the conditions are not really ideal. But if our subjects are further away or if we are in a foreign country, it is only good planning and a lot of patience that will solve our problem.
The more we get involved in landscape photography, the more we learn to evaluate the ideal position of the sun and the most favourable time of day. A practical aid in this case is a compass, which allows you to roughly determine the path of the sun.
The same purpose can be achieved with our watch - an old scouting trick. We point the small needle towards the sun. Then we divide by two the angle between the sun and noon and we obtain the direction of the south.
The next question is what kind of lighting is ideal for the shot.
For a desert landscape, a hard backlight is appropriate, perfectly rendering the shape of the sand dunes. A mountain landscape looks better with side lighting. The setting sun, very low, with its long shadows, will accentuate the plasticity and depth. The autumnal forest on the other hand, red-brown, which does not live from the lighting, but from the contrast of colors, will be best illuminated by a frontal light. Or even by a diffuse light on a slightly overcast sky... With a little underexposure we will increase the melancholy of the situation.
So much for the light.
But where there is light, there are also shadows. We photographers don't think enough about shadows. In many cases, we are more successful if we focus on the effect of the shadows rather than the lighting itself. Will we choose hard or soft shadows? Which direction will the shadows be cast? Towards the camera? Should they be sideways or from the camera into the background? So try once to judge the situation of the subject according to the shadows. You will be surprised how quickly you solve the problems of ideal lighting.
On the other hand we should distance ourselves from the ideal calendar photo with sun and small white clouds.
This is not creative landscape photography, but postcard photography. Landscape photography lives on light moods, and to experience them you have to go into nature. In the morning, at daybreak, in the evening at dusk, just after a storm or on a cool autumn day. It is there that we will encounter unique lighting situations that will prompt us to act quickly. These moments often don't last long, fifteen minutes to maybe two hours at most. To make the best use of this time, we need to know exactly what we want to photograph and where. The point of view must be clearly defined. The access roads must be known, in short everything we described in the chapter Idea and realization.
THE FOCAL LENGTH OF THE LENS AS A MEANS TO CREATE A STYLE
It is not the focal length of the lens that determines the point of view and perspective. It only depends on where the photographer is standing.
The focal length of the lens has two essential functions. On the one hand, it is the focal length-dependent image angle that determines which portion of the subject space will be in the image. With a short focal length, there will be more subject space, with a long focal length there will be less. But it is also responsible for the magnification ratio of the subjects. A short focal length presents the objects in the image smaller (at equal distance) than a long focal length.
With a larger subject space, thus a smaller rendering of the subjects, we can explain why a short focal length gives the impression of depth in space. Whereas a long focal length with a smaller image angle and a concentration of even distant subject planes, gives a flat impression with little depth. Finally, a wide-angle lens gives us the possibility to include the foreground. An effect that is further enhanced by the differentiated reproduction of depth dimensions.
From a practical point of view...
The use of short focal length lenses gives to landscape photography, depending on where the camera is located, more interesting and impressive perspectives than long focal lengths. But short focal lengths tend to distort the subjects at the edges, which can only be compensated for by viewing the images from a distance proportional to the shooting distance. From all this one could draw the conclusion that in landscape photography one always wants pronounced perspectives that can only be achieved with wide-angle lenses. This is of course not the case. The shortening of the subject space with long lenses is in many cases much more impressive than a broad overview.
COLOR AS A MEANS TO CREATE STYLE
In landscape photography one generally tries to stay true to the colors.
Bright colors, coming from foreign objects, are also distracting and should be avoided. This is also the case with the use of effect color filters, which partially alter the image. There are situations in which such a filter helps to create a certain mood. But in general, these changes should be treated sparingly. It is also true that this kind of effect in the image wears off very quickly.
Filters are useful in landscape photography
They are useful to obtain a warmer (more red) or cooler (more blue) color rendition. A very important filter in landscape photography is the polarizing filter. It is used to reduce or even eliminate reflections on water, wet tar or leaves under certain conditions, as well as to make the blue of the sky darker. Rotating the filter will increase or decrease the polarization effect. It is therefore recommended that for almost every shot, you look through the viewfinder and rotate the filter, to get a better visual sense of whether its use is desired.
Gradient filters are also valuable in landscape photography.
Their density increases in one direction to make, for example, a sky darker while the image is perfectly balanced in brightness. Each photographer must decide for himself, to what extent various effect filters should be included in natural landscape shots. This is primarily a matter of personal taste. But it is a fact, that such standard effects are in the long run boring, when they are used too often.
In the creation of landscape images it is not the color that is important,
What is important are the surfaces and lines of the subject. The color should be faithful and discreet and create a natural harmony. Pastel tones are preferable to create a good atmosphere compared to bright colors. Monochrome images also have a certain appeal. They can be obtained either with a strong color filter or by turning a black & white photograph.
BLACK & WHITE AS A WAY TO CREATE A STYLE
Black & white is always in fashion. Especially in landscape photography, the transposition of colored scenes into corresponding gray values is a very popular creative subject.
The color-neutral image concentrates on the subject, which it portrays in delicate white values up to different dark grays in the shadows, with a special appeal. Black & white photography also offers the possibility to enhance or reduce certain colors of the subject by using color filters. In landscape photography, yellow, orange and red filters are most often used. The purpose of these filters is to darken the sky to the point of drama to better bring out cloud formations. The rule of thumb is that a filter reproduces its own color always lighter, and the complementary color darker.
In addition to the possibility of influencing the rendering of tonal values by filters, there is another important problem in black and white photography.
If one wants to reproduce all light values and contrast as completely as possible, every photographer will sooner or later have to deal with the zone system of Ansel Adams. Apart from the fact that Ansel Adams only worked in large format, he created in the thirties the basis of a system to be able to reproduce a certain contrast of the subject by proper exposure and development with all its values on medium gradation photographic paper.
For a zone system exposure metering, only a selective metering of the subject is recommended.
In this case, it must be determined before the shot, in which parts of the gray scale inherent to the subject the exposure should take place. Is it the shadows that should have the most detail or the light areas? Unfortunately it is very difficult to render the contrast in its entirety. So it is often necessary to choose compromise solutions.
THE SPONTANEOUS AND PLANNED LANDSCAPE
Landscape photography is also 90% planning and 10% luck.
Famous landscape photographers have spent much more time searching for the right scene, the best vantage point and the ideal lighting conditions than they have spent taking the photograph itself.
If you go blindly with your camera equipment in the car to do landscape photography, the result is more often disappointment than valuable images. Here and there you find interesting subjects, but you rarely see them in ideal conditions. If you shoot them anyway, you will not be entirely satisfied. But if you don't do anything at all, the day will be lost.
Sometimes it's just a matter of chance in landscape photography.
When a beautiful scene presents itself to us like in a picture book in perfect lighting with the few clouds we want. And if, by chance, you have your camera in the car, several factors contribute together to the success of the lucky photograph. But you should not count on this kind of chance because it never happens.
THE COMPOSITION OF THE IMAGE
It is very difficult to learn the composition of the image.
A certain gift and sensitivity for the harmony of surfaces and lines are essential for the photographer who wants to be creative and successful. But there are people who do not know how to see the ideal framing and do not leave the necessary free space in the image where the image needs it.
They miss important details, or they don't notice when shooting that the horizon of the sea is not perfectly horizontal. Moreover, this horizon is located exactly in the middle of the image and divides it into two perfectly boring halves.
It is precisely in the composition that images made in advance have all their weight.
The consequent examination, the study and even the analysis of the photographs of the great masters is undoubtedly worth more than expensive books and long and boring courses on the subject. The composition of the image begins with the vision. I mean creative vision. The creative and expert photographer does not see just any landscape. He mentally pictures the finished image, with perfect framing, clear lines and distribution of surfaces. Before he sets up his camera he already knows where the best viewpoint will be. And especially in which parts he will have to or will be able to give up details, because the contrast difference of the subject is too big. This artistic sense and the experiences already made are even more important in landscape photography than the perfect mastery of the photographic technique.
NATURE IS OUR GREAT TEACHER!
It teaches us to really see in the photographic sense. The composition of the image begins with a frame. We will first ask ourselves questions of principle: orientation of the image. The horizontal has a calm and passive effect, the vertical is active, even aggressive. The wider an image is, the more depth it has and the more calm it gives the viewer.
Vertical formats are rather rare in landscape photography. Their share is only about ten percent.
The explanation for this lies in our own vision, which is focused on a wide field of view. Secondly, with most landscape subjects we want to reproduce this impression of width (and breadth) in the photographs and convey it to the viewers. Vertical images are generally successful when they accentuate a foreground and thereby create great depth. As we find in other fields, the composition of the image in landscape photography also consists of surfaces and lines. The subject itself is of less interest in this purely geometric distribution. The rules of image composition are thus more or less applicable to each type of subject.
For us, surfaces are represented in landscape photography by the sky, mountains, hills, rocks, groups of trees, fields, meadows etc. And the lines are the horizon, the sky, the mountains, the hills, the rocks, the trees, the meadows etc. And lines are the horizon, roads, rivers, hedges and many other things. Surfaces act mainly by their size, brightness and color. While lines set accents and direct the eye in a given direction.
Where to place the elements of composition?
For the composition of the image, the distribution of these surfaces is essential.
As is our habit in reading and writing, we examine an image from left to top to bottom. If the light distribution goes in the same direction and the light parts of the subject go from the left to the top to the center of the image, then we will make it easier for the viewer to approach this image. If, however, the distribution of the light values goes in the other direction, we will immediately have an unattractive impression of this image. We must force ourselves to examine it carefully. It is very easy to prove this by enlarging an inverted image in the left-right direction.
The same applies to the diagonal of the image which is a very important part of the composition.
If the diagonal follows a direction from left to top to right to bottom, it helps us to understand the image. If it leads from top right to bottom left, the examination of the image is made more difficult, the image has less impact.
The distribution of the light parts in the image is of specific interest. As a general rule, an image is considered to make a good impression when the bright parts are in the upper half. A sunny sky is proof of this, while black storm clouds create a dramatic feeling. This is not only true for the top-bottom orientation, but also for the left-right orientation.
According to our reading habits, the movement from left to right gives the feeling of going towards freedom, while the movement from right to left gives the feeling of going back.
In landscape photography, the left to right orientation is also essential.
A tree that dominates the left side of the image is heavy and cumbersome. We judge this image to be less good than one that has the tree in the right half of the image. If we place the tree in the center, we have theoretically committed a mortal sin in terms of composition. If, on the other hand, we take the same scene and place the tree on the right, the image will have a completely new expression (still with the same main subject). The viewer focuses more on the landscape itself. The tree becomes an essential secondary subject.
WHERE TO PLACE THE HORIZON ?
The horizon is a crucial element in the composition of an image.
In principle, the horizon should not be placed in the middle of the image. Symmetry is boring, asymmetry accentuates a tension. We can generally divide a landscape into thirds. If the sky has two thirds, we will have the sensation of an infinite expanse. If the sky is limited to only one third, the landscape and the foreground will be accentuated.
Foreground, middle ground, background
By landscape we mean in the broadest sense a scene, which includes at least three planes in depth, which are divided into foreground, middle ground and background.
The dominant subject of the image is usually in the center. He is not alone but there is an environment that he does not influence. Or that could have a disturbing effect on the main subject, thus on the evocation of the image.
The foreground gives the observer the impression of depth in space because of the incorporation of a dimension of comparison. It plays a role of first order in the composition. Because it appears to be closer to the viewer and appears large in the image (although it is generally of secondary importance).
Whenever possible, an interesting foreground should be incorporated into the composition. The background gives the image its mood as well as the impression of distance and infinity. Images without a background, such as a forest with only gray trunks, photographed with a long focal length that shortens the scale of the shots, have a heavy influence on us and give us the impression that we are cramped. When we often examine landscape photographs, we notice three essential errors that must be avoided at all costs:
- The subject is in the center of the image and it becomes boring.
- The environment distracts from or disturbs the subject.
- The horizon runs through the middle of the image or divides the composition in an uninteresting way.
Just following these three rules consistently will result in much better landscape photographs.
And if after a few years you look back at your old landscape photographs in terms of these three mistakes, you will have confirmation of the accuracy of these rules.
THE SKY IN THE LANDSCAPE
The sky is part of almost every landscape shot.
As an important component, it often dominates and fills more than half the image. Whether the sky is a pure blue surface with no clouds or has bizarre cloud formations, the impact on the image message is undeniable. On a monochrome surface, it has a calming effect. Or, with storm clouds, it expresses the calm before the storm. When there are clouds in the sky, it is often worthwhile to incorporate them into the landscape image. You can even enhance the effect with a polarizing filter and in black & white with yellow, orange or red filters.
The interesting cloud formations suddenly take on a creative meaning. And if necessary, even an important integration of the sky in the shot is desired. It is not uncommon to find landscape photographs where the sky covers two thirds to three quarters of the image.
In the composition of the image the sky is always an optical counterweight to the landscape.
This is why the position of the horizon line is important. On the one hand, the horizon must always be straight. This means that the camera must be set with the level in its vertical direction. Secondly, the horizon should not pass through the middle of the image, dividing it in half into sky and landscape. The effect is boring and there is (for once) no exception to this rule. Clouds move faster than you think. It is often necessary to hurry, because the most beautiful cumulus clouds turn into indistinct clouds in a few minutes.
In other cases, it is better to wait for a more interesting cloud formation.
If the atmosphere created by the clouds is important, you can take several shots at certain intervals, and then choose the most evocative image. Air pollution makes it difficult for us as landscape photographers to work with haze. In some regions near industrial centers, clear days during which one should be able to take landscape pictures, become rare. The fog forms mostly during the day. It forces us to stop our preparations after a few hours in the morning. The fog not only hinders the visibility at a distance, but also the blue of the sky. To a certain extent, this problem can be solved with a polarizing filter. But often the haze layer is so thick that every trick fails. Except of course a further processing of the image with the help of computers.
The effect of the blue sky depends mainly on the direction of the light.
In backlight, the blue of the sky remains a bit at the stage of desire of the photographer. Because the atmospheric haze and dust particles are so brightly lit by the sun, that they cause a gray sky. If we turn 180°, everything changes. The sky is steel blue, because we look at it from the direction of the light itself. The refraction of the light on the haze and the dust particles does not play a role for us anymore.
TREES IN THE LANDSCAPE
Trees are not only important components, but they are often a photographic theme in themselves.
It is good when focusing on trees, to examine the environment. The landscape does not only contain a main subject, but also the environment near or far. A single tree in the landscape may well be in a dominant position in the center of a vertical format. But it can also be placed in the third of the image of a horizontal format, to transmit some of its dominant position to its equally photogenic surroundings.
The direction of the light is of primary importance when photographing trees. The leaves usually show up best with side lighting at an angle of 60°. While 90° side lighting is already a bit boring because of the too even distribution of light. Frontal light is not exciting. On the other hand, backlighting will make the tree appear in a mystical silhouette.
One tree in a landscape is one thing, many trees is something else. The forest is a surprisingly difficult photographic theme to achieve.
An image with lots of straight trunks is not attractive. It doesn't offer the viewer - except maybe some colors - anything sensational. Here, it is the details that are important.
It is by encompassing the forest floor or the tree crowns that an image of the forest is enriched with interesting elements. One always underestimates the lighting conditions in a forest. Trees literally swallow the light. We often reach long exposure times when shooting in the forest.
Consider also, that a view through the trees to a clearing or to the sky through the crowns leads to very large contrast differences. This requires accurate light measurement.
WATER IN THE LANDSCAPE
Water in the landscape is always a pleasing and appreciated subject.
It can be a small river flowing through a forest landscape. Or a lake in which the snowy peaks shimmer. The water is present in the most diverse colors. It can reflect the red of the sunset, the blue of the sky. It can be transparent, slightly turquoise, or it can be a brown soup full of pebbles.
The play of water and light is especially attractive. The light can be reflected in the water by small shiny spots and thus enrich the image. But it can also distract from the main subject and get in the way. Such reflections often force us to change our point of view. Because the reflections are too strong or because the contrast difference becomes too large. There is also the risk of spots or secondary images due to the reflection. We can however in most cases avoid this by using a sunshade.
Rivers have a very suggestive effect when exposed for a long time (1/8 to 3 seconds).
Some exposure variants are recommended in this case to document once and for all the effect of long exposure times. Under normal daylight conditions, neutral gray filters should be used. Large areas, such as lakes and the sea, have a calming effect and do not appear monotonous. Even in very large areas. They usually have colored streaks or reflections that enrich the image with an interesting element.
FOREIGN OBJECTS IN THE LANDSCAPE
Painters who make landscapes have more facilities than photographers. They can simply leave out the distracting components of a scene.
As photographers we are bound to a realistic representation. Often ugly industrial buildings, power line towers, advertising signs or any other kind of "civilization garbage" prevent us from photographing a nice natural landscape. Cars are also part of it. All the more so as they are objects of an era. A shot of this kind seems out of fashion after only a few years. Even if the photograph was made in the rules of art, nobody will want it anymore.
Often a slight change in the point of view is enough to make a foreign object disappear. It can be hidden by a tree or a branch. Or another component of the image takes on so much weight that the foreign object no longer has optical weight and is no longer seen by the observer. I'm quite strict with myself on this subject. Even if it means using the possibilities of Photoshop in post-production to "eliminate" disturbing objects.