By Darren Rowse |
Are you a newbie in scenic photography? Are you fond of taking photographs of nature? Do you like traveling to beautiful places with breathtaking panoramas? If yes, you will soon be exposed with landscape photography and before you start stressing out looking for the basics, here are 10 practical guidelines you will need to capture the actual footage of the wonders of nature:
- Focal Points
All shots need some sort of focal point to them and landscapes are no different – in fact landscape photographs without them end up looking rather empty and will leave your viewers eye wondering through the image with nowhere to rest. Focal points can take many forms in landscapes and could range from a building or structure, a striking tree, a boulder or rock formation, a silhouette, and many more.
- Leading Lines
One of the questions to ask yourself as you take Landscape shots is ‘how am I leading the eye of those viewing this shot’? There are a number of ways of doing this but one of the best ways into a shot is to provide viewers with lines that lead them into an image. Lines give an image depth, scale and can be a point of interest in and of themselves by creating patterns in your shot.
When most people think about landscapes, they think of calm, serene and passive environments; however landscapes are rarely completely still and conveying this movement in an image will add drama, mood, and eventually create a point of interest. Capturing this movement generally means you need to look at a longer shutter speed. Of course this means more light hitting your sensor which will mean you need to either go for a small Aperture, use some sort of a filter, or shoot at the start or end of the day when there is less light.
It’s an old tip but a good one – before you take a landscape shot always consider the horizon on two fronts.
- Is it straight? – While you can always straighten images later in post production, it’s easier if you get it right in camera.
- Where is it compositionally? – A compositionally natural spot for a horizon is on one of the thirds lines in an image; either the top third or the bottom one, rather than completely in the middle.
- Magic Hours
Shooting at times around dawn and dusk results to amazing landscape photographs because that’s when the light is best and the landscapes come alive. These “golden” hours are great for landscapes for a number of reasons – none the least of which is the ‘golden’ light that it often presents us with. The other reason is the angle of the light and how it can impact a scene – creating interesting patterns, dimensions and textures.
A scene can change dramatically depending upon the weather at any given moment. As a result, choosing the right time to shoot is of real importance. Many beginner photographers see a sunny day and think that it’s the best time to go out with their camera – however an overcast day that is threatening to rain might present you with a much better opportunity to create an image with real mood and ominous overtones. Look for storms, wind, mist, dramatic clouds, sun shining through dark skies, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises etc and work with these variations in the weather rather than just waiting for the next sunny blue sky day.
While there may be times that you want to get a little more creative and experiment with narrow depth of fields in your Landscape Photography – the normal approach is to ensure that as much of your scene is in focus as possible. The simplest way to do this is to choose a small Aperture setting (a large number) as the smaller your aperture the greater the depth of field in your shots. Do keep in mind that smaller apertures mean less light is hitting your image sensor at any point in time so they will mean you need to compensate either by increasing your ISO or lengthening your shutter speed (or both).
One element that can set apart your landscape shots is to think carefully about the foreground of your shots and by placing points of interest in them. When you do this you give those viewing the shot a way into the image as well as creating a sense of depth in your shot.
As a result of the longer shutter speed that you may need to select to compensate for a small aperture you will need to find a way of ensuring your camera is completely still during the exposure. In fact even if you’re able to shoot at a fast shutter speed, the practice of using a tripod can be beneficial to you. Also consider a cable or wireless shutter release mechanism for extra camera stillness.
- Diverse Perspectives
You drive up to the scenic lookout, get out of the car, grab your camera, turn it on, walk up to the barrier, raise the camera to your eye, rotate left and right a little, zoom a little and take your shot before getting back in the car to go to the next scenic lookout. We’ve all done it – however this process doesn’t generally lead to the ‘wow’ shot that many of us are looking for.
Take a little more time with your shots – particularly in finding a more interesting point of view to shoot from. This might start with finding a different spot to shoot from than the scenic look out could mean getting down onto the ground to shot from down low or finding a higher up vantage point to shoot from.
Explore the environment and experiment with different viewpoints and you could find something truly unique.
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