LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
1. Use a Tripod
Use a strong sturdy tripod to minimise or eliminate camera shake. For light travel tripods, try placing your bag on the tripod to give it extra weight for more stability.
Using a tripod for will dramatically improve your landscape images by maximising the resolving power of your lens and providing the sharpest image possible. A hotshoe spirit level can aid with keeping the horizon line straight. Many hand held images suffer from sloping horizon lines requiring correction in Adobe Photoshop.
2. Maximise depth of field
To maximise image quality while keeping both the foreground and background in sharp focus, use middle apertures such as f8 or f11 on standard to wide angle lenses. Higher apertures such as f16 & f22 may suffer from diffraction and result in lower quality images.
3. Use the foreground for interest plus depth.
To create a landscape photograph with added depth and interest, use an object in the foreground such as sea shells or rock formations on a beach. Super wide angles such as the professional quality Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/4 lens give dramatic sweeping landscapes that takes the eye from the foreground object into the background and then circles back to the foreground once again.
4. Use slow shutter speeds to capture movement
To capture movement in nature such as a dramatic or rough sea, waterfalls, fields blowing in the wind, city traffic, rain or snow falling etc., experiment with slow shutter speeds with your camera on a tripod. The best option is to set manual on your digital camera or dslr and then vary the shutter speed and aperture according to lighting conditions. If the light is to bright for slow shutter speeds at 100 iso, either use a neutral density filter which can reduce the light coming into your camera by half or more or alternatively, return to the same scene during late afternoon or early evening for the best light. With this technique, timing can be critical in capturing movement such as when waves break or traffic passes. Experiment for best results.
5. Use dramatic weather
For dramatic moody landscapes in color and black and white, use dramatic weather conditions for impact such as storms, breaks in the clouds, dark menacing clouds, thunder and lighting, rainbows, reflections of dramatic scenery and clouds in the sea, sunrise and sunset.. Bracketing exposures is often necessary when dealing with dramatic lighting conditions. Alternatively if your aim is to maximise shadow details at the expense of highlights, expose for the shadows and vice versa.
6. HDR High Dynamic Range Photography
High Dynamic Range photography (HDR) has grown in popularity over recent years. HDR allows a photographer to increase details in both the shadows and highlights to a much greater degree than is possible in a normal photograph. There are two ways to create an HDR image. Either take three images using the auto bracketing feature on your digital slr camera and recombine them in a specialist HDR package or through the new HDR feature in Adobe Photoshop CS2 or CS3. Alternatively take one raw image and use a raw editor.
7. Look for patterns and lines
Look for patterns and lines in nature to add a sense of balance to the photo or to lead the eye into the landscape i.e. meandering stream leading into the forest or a mountain range.
8. Use scale
If is often difficult to sense the true scale of a landscape such as mountains or lakes without a recognizable object such as a house, boat or person in the photograph for comparison. To create a dramatic landscape with scale, use people, objects, animals, buildings and other easily recognizable objects to give the viewer a true sense of the scale of the landscape.
9. Use the rule of thirds
All rules are meant to be broken for creative photography but quite often, rules such as the rule of thirds can provide some assistance when framing a landscape proves to be difficult. See rule of thirds example.
10. Keep the horizon straight
Keep the landscape straight by either using a grid in the viewfinder or a spirit level in your cameras hotshoe or tripod. Last resort is to straighten the image in adobe photoshop.
11. Experiment with different points of view
Break away from the standard views which everyone uses and experiment with different points of view from higher views to shots taken at ground level. Walk around the landscape for a better or different viewpoint.
12. Shoot at sunrise and sunset
For the best light, wake up very early and take landscape photographs at sunrise or wait until late afternoon or sunset for the landscape to be covered in golden light with long soft shadows.
13. Use a polarizer filter
For minimizing reflections on water as well as saturating sky colors, use a high quality polarizing filter on the front of your digital slr lens.
14. Experiment with different lenses.
Experiment with super wide angle lenses to maximise depth of field for sweeping landscapes upto telephoto lenses to isolate and compress part of a landscape using selective focus.
15. Panoramic images.
Many digital cameras come with a facility to combine 3 or more overlapping images to form one panoramic image. Use manual exposure to keep the exposure the same for each frame. Exposure variations through automatic metering can make it almost impossible to produce a natural looking image as exposure settings will change as the metering system detects differences in lighting between one frame to the next.