Article: 7 Tips for Shooting Great Landscape Photos
Here is an article I published on my website about landscape photography. I hope it'll be useful to some of you in this forum.
Article: 7 Tips for Shooting Great Landscape Photos
by Gary Hendricks
Are you a fan of landscape photos? Landscapes are a lot of fun to take - from pictures of mountains and rivers to peaceful shots of the setting sun. Whenever Iím on vacation, I always try to look for creative ways to shoot the landscape. Better yet, if you have the time and means, landscapes give you an opportunity to stitch pictures together to create a panorama. So letís take a look at some tips for shooting landscape photos.
A landscape photo of waves crashing against the shore
Tip 1: Bring a Tripod
Always bring a tripod if you plan on shooting landscapes. Even if the day is sunny, you may need to use a small aperture to achieve a great depth of field. In such cases, you may be using a low shutter speed Ė which leads to camera shake if you canít hold the camera stable in your hands. Hence the need for a tripod. If you need a good travel tripod, I recommend the Vanguard Tourist-2 Ė Iíve used it for years and it functions very well.
Tip 2: Cable Release
One good tip is to carry a cable release. Instead of using the timer function on the camera, use the cable release. This ensures that you can trigger the shutter at precisely the right timing. In turn, this leads to reduced camera shake and a more beautiful photo.
Tip 3: Use the Right Filters
Filters are important when taking landscape photos. There are different types of filters that I use Ė polarizers, neutral density filters and graduated neutral density filters.
Polarizers are useful for reducing glare from water and other reflective surfaces. These create a more well-balanced and beautiful picture.
Neutral density filters will stop a specified amount of light entering the camera. I tend to use these for shooting waterfalls on a sunny day.
Graduated neutral density filters are a slight variation of this Ė they are dark on top and clear on the bottom, creating a Ďgradual transitioní from the dark to clear area. These filters are good for blocking out bright parts of a scene (say the sky) to create a more evenly exposed picture.
Tip 4: Research the Landscape
One thing to do before taking landscape photos is to do some background research on the landscape. If youíre taking pictures of the Nigara Falls, or the Grand Canyon, try to do some background study on what the most scenic spots are.
Itís also good to check out the weather conditions of the place. Check up the papers Ė if the weather doesnít look good, you may want to try shooting another day.
Tip 5: Lenses
For shooting landscape photos, itís usually best to bring wide-angle lenses. I also bring along a telephoto lens in case I want to shot some creative, zoomed-in shots.
Tip 6: Composition
Another thing to remember is that composition rules are still important in landscape photos. Make sure you have something in the foreground, mid-ground and background.
Tip 7: Shoot at the Right Time
For landscape photography, one thing I realize is that you should avoid shooting during mid-day. There is a lot of harsh lighting and bad shadow effects during that period. Early morning or late afternoon tends to be best.
As you can see, landscape photography poses its own challenges. However, bear the above tips in mind the next time youíre taking these photos, and Iím sure youíll be much happier with your prints!
Gary, I backpack quite a bit, and am usually leading a group. Thus, when I photograph landscapes it is usually on the fly (when you're leading a group they won't wait for you to get out your tripod, etc.). Also, I don't have the luxury of choosing my time of day, etc. I'm stuck with photographing what I see when we happen to come upon it. Additionally, I don't think my Canon A95 will take filters.
I can take advantage of some of the tips you provided; any other tips on shooting good landscapes given my restrictions?
you can use filters with the a95 if you buy the adapter for it. i made my own for the a80 (nicer than the plastic one from canon) to use 58mm filters with it. i used an infrared and circular polarizing filter. since you live in the LA area you might find the polarizer useful for cutting through the haze that is constantly in the air. also, i find that when you cut out all that random light that is boucing off the particles in the air (even on clear days), you lower the brightness of the sky which helps with dynamic range when relating it to the usually darker foreground. remember that it only work when you are not pointing it directly at or away from the sun so it is useless for sunsets. i use the HOYA SMC circular polarizer and i'm pretty satisfied with it.
Originally Posted by EAP
Any tips on focusing?
I found a couple of pics to be blurry . I doubt it was due to handshake since shutter speed was 1/50sec. But the aperture was F3.5. Could this be a possible reason?
Do we have to play with focus?
depends from the camera I think, on my old Minolta Dimage F200 I usually take landscape shots manually adjusting focus to infnity but it doesn't work with my Dimage Z3 which produce blurry images with infinity, so usually I just focusing on the most important part of the image or on the farest object I can find. BTW I'm not sure how steady hand you have but images taken with 1/50 by me (without stabilizing enabled) come blurry so maybe you need to use tripod or higher shutter speeds?
Originally Posted by kazaan
Gary, you've posted nice tips! good job!
Excellent! Thanks, I'll look into that. That constant haze is horrible for photos (not to mention my lungs...)
Originally Posted by ReF