Landscape photography is a favorite with professional and amateur photographers alike. There awaits a wealth of natural landscapes filled with beauty and drama, always changing with the seasons. To avoid taking bland images, follow these key tips below.
1. Create Depth
When you are taking a landscape photograph, try creating a sense of depth by keeping all the different elements of the image in focus. To do this you need to use a small aperture, from f/16-f/22 because this keeps objects in the foreground and background sharp. Place your camera on a tripod (this will eliminate camera shake) when using a small aperture, as less light will be entering the lens.
2. Use a Wide-Angle Lens
Wide-angle lenses are preferred for landscape photography because they can show a broader view, and therefore give a sense of wide open space. They also tend to give a greater depth of field and allow you to use faster shutter speeds because they allow more light. Taking an image at f/16 will make both the foreground and background sharp. Remember to try some interesting angles with the photograph.
3. Use Photographic Filters
To get the best possible images, you can make use of two filters in your landscape photography. Polarizing filters darken the sky and therefore bring out the blues in contrast to the white of the clouds. Neutral Density (ND) filters prevent too much light from entering the camera. This is useful on bright days, when the camera is unable to give you a slow shutter speed (you may want to capture the movement of the sky or water for example).
4. Capture Movement
If you are working with moving water you can create a stunning white water effect by choosing a long exposure. One way to do this is by using TV or S (Shutter-Priority) mode and choosing an exposure of 2 seconds or longer. You can also use AV (Aperture-Priority) mode and choose a small aperture like f/32 (which generally requires more light). If working with bright daylight you must use an ND filter to reduce the amount of light hitting the camera, and this way the camera will allow you to have a longer shutter time. You must always use a tripod for this kind of shot so everything else remains sharp.
5. Use Water as a Mirror
Water in subdued light can create beautiful effects and reflections. The best time for this kind of shot is during the two “golden hours” which are the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. Put your camera on a tripod and set the mode dial to TV or S (Shutter-Priority) mode. Choose a slow shutter speed and allow the camera to choose the correct aperture. If you struggle to get a sharp image you can push the ISO up although ISO 125 is a good starting point.
6. Take Account of People
A landscape isn’t just about nature; so why not include people? A beautiful landscape can be complemented by a cute child or by a beautiful girl running or jumping through the flowers. Remember the rule of thirds and place the person in an off-center position to create interest. Choose a fast shutter speed if you want to freeze the action or a slower shutter speed if you want to capture movement.
7. Compose in Thirds
To use the rule of thirds, imagine four lines, two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical creating nine even squares. Some images will look best with the focal point in the center square, but placing the subject off-center or on one of the intersections will create extra interest as it creates a pleasing layout. When a photograph is composed using the rule of thirds the eyes will wander the frame. A picture composed by the rule of thirds is more interesting and pleasing to the eye.
When shooting during the day you can afford to use a smaller aperture of f/22 to capture a super sharp detailed image. If you are trying to capture movement of water or of people and birds, then use a filter to reduce the amount of light going in and experiment with the shutter speed. For water you want to choose at least 2 seconds or more and for moving animals or people start from 1/60. You should always use a tripod for these types of landscape images.
In bright light you should always use a lens hood to prevent flaring. In addition, you may use a neutral density filter or a polarizing filter to reduce reflections and bring out the sky. A tripod is essential if you want to take very sharp photographs and if you want to capture movement. A beanbag is also useful to experiment with angles (such as shooting a landscape from the ground up). The use of flash will help illuminate shadowy areas in close range.
Landscapes are a real favorite with photographers and it’s not hard to see why; you get to spend time in the outdoors and be with nature. Having patience helps, as you may need to wait for the right lighting conditions, and there will be times when conditions do not cooperate. Some landscape photographers will sit for hours to get one stunning shot for the whole day. That one magic shot makes the time worthwhile. With patience and some practice, you will develop skill and be able to capture striking photos of your own.