BE ONE WITH MOTHER NATURE
Landscape photography is often challenging and always rewarding if you can do it right. Most of us started out shooting landscapes and used them as a dreaded learning experience that made us the photographers we are today. Lets revisit the past and take better landscape photos this time around.
There's something about getting out in nature and the challenge of photographing some of the amazing landscapes that you see. When I first got my trusty old Pentax SLR as a young teenager landscape photography is what quickly got me hooked. I found there were so many different landscapes that I could take advantage of and by using the sunrise I could make an ordinary place truly look beautiful. Landscapes were always available when I wanted to shoot and they never had anything bad to say about how my photos turned out ─ which was great. Maybe I was in love with the quietness of waiting for the perfect time of day to get the best possible photo. Landscapes were my first love in photography and still to this day they are a big part of my portfolio.
I thought I'd write down a few of the lessons that I learned along the way of photographing landscapes for you to get inspired and take these tips with you on your next landscape adventure. I would love to hear your own Landscape Photography tips in the comment section below.
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Landscape Photography Tips
1. Find A Focal Point
A good focal point for any type of photography is important. Landscapes are no different. You may have seen some landscape photographs without them and it likely looks rather empty and leaves your eyes wondering all over the place.
Focal points can be in any form and could range from a small shack or building to a big beautiful tree or rock formation to a shadow etc.
You also need to consider where you place the focal point to really make your photo look natural. The rule of thirds would be a sure way to go about placing your focal point.
2. Use A Good Tripod
Anytime you photograph landscapes you need to ensure that your camera is completely still to reduce the chance of blur during an exposure. A lot of times you will be depending on a long shutter speed to compensate for a small aperture. You can use a wireless shutter release that will really keep your tripod still.
3. Consider The Sky
Most landscapes will show more of the foreground or more of the sky. If you place them evenly your shot can end up lookign unnatural and boring.
If the sky is filled with amazing cloud formations and colors then place the horizon lower when your frame your camera. On the flip side, if the sky is bland and boring, don't make it the focus and place it in the upper third of your frame.
If you aren't digging the sky consider the use of polarizing filters to add color and contrast. You can also enhance the sky in post production with a program like Photoshop to really bring out the color and contrast.
4. Allow for Maximum Depth of Field
A foolproof way to take a stunning landscape photo is to have as much of the scene in focus as possible. The simplest way to do this is to use a small aperture setting (a large number) as the smaller the aperture the greater depth in your shots.
Keep in mind that using a small aperture will mean that less light will hit your image sensor so you will need to compensate by either increasing your ISO or making your shutter speed longer ─ this is why you need a tripod to help reduce camera blur.
5. Choosing a Foreground
You can improve your landscape shots by using an interesting foreground like a chain of trees and placing focal points in them. This will give your viewers a way into the photo and will also add depth to your shot.
6. Use The Weather
Depending on the season and time of day, weather can make or break your shot. Don't let fog or wind discourage you from heading out.
Often times photographers will assume that a sunny blue sky day is the best time to snap landscape photographs ─ however an overcast with threatening rain clouds might make a better shot by creating dramatic clouds and sun shining through them. If you get lucky you might be able to catch a rainbow and work with different variations mother nature brings us.
You need to know how to lead your viewers eyes into your shot. There a few ways of doing this (foreground is one) but the best way into a shot is to draw them in with lines leading into your focal point. This can create patterns and add interest for your viewer pleasure.
8. Know Your Horizon
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Before you frame up consider the horizon. Does it look natural? Is it straight? These are things to think about when choosing a horizon that will help make the other elements in this article flow together.
9. Change Your View Point
If you want to really "wow" your viewers you need to go to great lengths ─ literally. Try to get higher and shoot down on your focal point. This will make your shot more interesting and hopefully something that most people don't see everyday. Take your viewer to a place they have never been before. Get up-top a hill or mountain, look down paths and find new angles.
Explore the environment and find different viewpoints. You can truly find unique places you just need to look for them.
Not that it should surprise you, but landscapes are rarely completely still. Most of us think of them as calm, and relaxing. Movement in your shot can show drama, mood and interest.
You can find movement in flowing water, wind in trees, clouds and even flying birds. Shoot with a longer shutter speed to get smooth running water and keep the rest of the image in focus.
11. The Golden Hours
I saved this tip last for a few reasons. Firstly, it's my most used and thought out tip before I even leave my house. Rarely do I shoot landscapes during the day anymore. My shooting times are always around dawn and dusk ─ the golden hours. I feel that's when the light is at its best and when the landscape really comes alive.
The angle of the light can really impact a scene and create interesting patterns and textures. Its such a short span of time that you really need to plan ahead and make sure your are not wasting time figuring out your camera settings or trying to find a good focal point. Head out a bit early and scope out the land. Wait for the right time and when the weather is at its best. Keep an open mind and you will greatly improve your landscape photography with this tip alone.