To take an excellent picture that will interest people, remember the following formula: ‘Good Light’ + ‘Good Composition’ + ‘Something Interesting’ = ‘Good Picture’. Always try to get all three if possible. With two of these elements existing, it is still possible to take great photos. When things go wrong and you just don’t have that trinity available, there are ways to compensate and still get your photos:
Composition is a big deal and can make or break a photo. Remember the basic elements of good composition and employ them in non-traditional ways to overcome bad backgrounds, poor lighting, bad subject positioning, etc.
Use marring elements of the landscape to frame your photos: Hay bails as leading lines, fences as leading lines, power lines as leading lines, etc. Try changing the camera’s perspective for a different view. Try moving subject if you can to get rid of distracting elements. Use a different lens or increase/decrease distance to subject. Try to use soft focus with big aperture and short shutter speeds.
While bad composition cannot be readily corrected, bad lighting can through post photo processing with an editing program. However, this is not an excuse to be lazy in taking photos and this is not applicable in the event of washed out highlights, as the sensors have been overloaded and will not register any detail.
Try shooting first thing in the morning, or last thing in the day for softer, gentler light. Harsh midday sun can really blow out the detail in highlights when you shoot your exposure range to capture the shadow’s detail. A good rule of thumb is: if it is so bright that your subject(s) must squint, the light is too harsh for adequate photography. If harsh light must be used, dial down the exposure by a quarter of an f-stop or more to shoot for highlights as shadow can be corrected on a computer.
Colors come to life in soft light, so consider using a shade to shield your subject from harsh light. Dial down exposure and use a soft box over the flash to fill in shady areas. Remember, dark objects are easier to photograph in shaded or overcast light.