Landscape photography is one of the most difficult types of photography to master. However, by sticking to a few basic rules, you’ll walk away with a set of landscape photos to be proud of. This pocket-sized guide is designed to outline the basic rules to help you develop in this particular field of photography.
Time of Day
Before you even start to think about which camera to take the photograph with, which camera settings to change, or whether you want that elegant tree to be incorporated into your frame, the most important aspect is to take your photograph at the right time of day.
By far and away, the best time of day to photograph landscapes is a few minutes before, during and after dawn, the reason being that the light is at its softest during this time frame.
Light is at it’s harshest during a perfectly bright, sunny and clear day. If taking a photograph under these conditions, in the middle of the day, a super-vibrant shot will be taken.
As the sun starts to go down, the light starts to soften once again, optimizing the conditions for gorgeous photography.
Get the Camera Setting Right
Changing a few camera settings before taking a shot can make all the difference between an average and a perfect photograph:
- Select a Small Aperture: This ensures that you get a shaper shot with the whole scene in focus - remember that a small aperture equates to large f-number. An added benefit of doing this is that most lenses will produce sharper results with less distortion.
- Low ISO Setting: This ensures that crisp detail in your image will be maximised, but might lead to a slower shutter speed and the need for a tripod.
- Set the White Balance Manually: Setting the white balance manually before taking a photograph is one way of preventing a nasty unnatural colour cast. This is because of the lack of white objects in many landscape scenes.
One of the most attractive aspects of landscape photography is that there is no need to rush. You will have plenty of time to decide how you want to frame the shot. There is also the potential to re-visit the spot at a later date or time of day to try and improve your photograph. This works particularly well if you want to capture the scene in a completely different light - during a storm, for instance.
Experiment With HDR
Once at home there are a number of ways that you can optimize your photograph - HDR is one of these. By combining different exposures, you can create an image to get maximum detail and correct exposure in every section - for example, a detailed sky and foreground. People have mixed opinions about HDR images, but it's a fun technique to try.
In summary; take your time to frame an image well at the correct time of day, alter a few camera settings, take a tripod with you, return to the same location in different weather conditions if possible, and don't be afraid to experiment with techniques such as HDR when back at your computer. These are all ingredients that should get you off to a great start. Here are a few further resources that you may find useful: