Lets Talk About Layers

Recently I’ve been looking around at some different types of photography for inspiration – landscapes are very much in my heart, but diversifying how I’m able to portray them interests me quite a bit.

This brought me to the subject of layers in the landscape. I saw some photos shot by an artist that lives in the same county as me, and it occurred  that it might be a good subject for me to consider. I had a look back through my archives, found a couple of shots which include layers, and have also been out in the last couple of weeks capturing an image or two with that very theme in mind.

Layers provide a real depth in an image for me, there’s  a complexity, and richness that they introduce, particularly as light is thrown on to them – an image almost becomes 3d. If shot in the right light, the highlights and shadows of ridges, hills, and mountains are really nicely accentuated.

This first image is a local effort – I’ve found  a couple of elevated outlooks in the South Downs National Park, which I live very close to. I visited this place a few times for the right light to be cast down from the top corner of shot at sunrise. The warm early morning sunshine seems to work well with the landscape that is getting that greener, spring feel about it again. You’ll notice the multiple layers here with the ridges in the foreground, extending out to the slightly flatter, almost patchwork fields of the Sussex countryside.

The South Downs National Park at Sunrise

I shot this next one from the top of the Fossa Valley in Iceland last year – looking the other way from Haifoss waterfall. The light was a bit flatter in this instance, almost hazy. The crazy volcanic geology of the landscape at this place still gives a 3d type feel to the scene though, and the image seems to go on forever, as the river deltas sweep away to the southern highlands at the back of the shot. Memorable place.

Layers of volcanic landscape at Haifoss, Iceland

This next image is another from home – Sussex. A quintessential English type landscape – green rolling hills, and sheep aplenty! I scouted this place a few times, the way the layers fold in front of each other here appealed to me, and I knew that sunset on a clear(ish) day would illuminate this view from the side, to enhance the depth of the scene. Plenty to look at with this one !

The rolling hills of the Sussex Countryside, landscape photography by Mark Pricew

Last up is one of my favourite images I’ve shot in recent times. Iceland again, but not one of the recognisable landmarks ( I’ve shot most of them as well though ! ). On the last morning of my trip there last autumn, there was a really beautiful sunrise. I’d shot first light over at Dyrhoaley, and headed towards Vik, just looking at the landscape, seeing how the light was playing. As I came along the ring road towards Vik, the scene jumped out at me. I hopped out of the car, set up with a 70-200, and fired this frame. The sun had risen above the surrounding peaks here, lighting up the layers and peaks wonderfully. As with the previous shot from Haifoss, the remarkable geology here helps to make the image interesting – rich in content, for want of a better term.

Beautiful morning light illuminates the Icelandic landscape near the southern town of Vik.

So, layers, a great option for landscapes. I like to shoot them with longer lenses, and from elevated outlooks. Maybe the longer lens compresses this type of view better than a wide angle will do. My 70-200 lens really comes into it’s own for these type of shots, all were shot at  100-200mm, I also use the 70-200 on a crop body, which gives a 1.5 magnification for better focus on distant scenery. It’s really necessary to be looking down to get a full sense of depth as the layers that you choose to shoot stretch away into your image, so finding a high vantage point is also important for this type of shot to work.  A drone would also be good, but thats another story !!


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