10 COMMANDMENTS OF LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY
As Photographers, we always wish we could capture the exact image we see with our eyes. And that is truer with Landscapes. Our eyes capture the perfect details of the landscape ignoring all other negatives in the view. But for the camera, it’s the opposite. They capture all the positives as well as the negatives in an image.
To help you capture those perfect landscapes, we recommend you follow these 10 tips just as if they were the 10 commandments of landscape photography.
1. THE RIGHT LOCATION
It is necessary to choose that right location for landscapes that appeals to you the most. Some like capturing mountains, some like rivers or waterfalls, beaches, etc. For these landscapes, you need the willingness to travel that distance and also patience to wait for that perfect time when you want to capture the landscape. Choosing the right location and placing your camera at the right spot on the location is the number one factor to achieve great Images.
2. USE A TRIPOD & A WIRELESS REMOTE
If you don’t have one, you may just want to invest in one for your landscape photography. It is absolutely necessary to have a still camera to capture landscapes. With smaller lens aperture diameters (F11 to f22), sometimes you are required to capture a photo with a longer shutter speed. For such photos it is essential that you need steadiness while handling your camera or you may end up losing out on imprisoning the beauty of the landscape in your photograph. Hence, it is ideal and a must have tool to carry while going on an outdoor shoot for capturing landscapes. Choose a right and sturdy tripod that supports your camera. Make sure that the tripod is able to carry the weight of the camera you are using. A wireless or a wired remote is a must to avoid any contact with the camera and thereby reducing any possibilities of a shake.
3. DEPTH OF FIELD
Depth of field is a very important component in photography as it helps you gain great sharpness in your images making the subject in the photo standout. For capturing landscapes it is essential that you have deeper depth of field and focus on as much as scene possible. Larger depth of fields is achieved with small lens aperture diameters or in other words, large f numbers like f11 –f22. Generally, smaller the aperture more part of the scene is in focus.
4. WIDE ANGLE LENS
Using a wide angle lens is very useful for capturing breath-taking landscapes. With these lenses, you can capture more area in your image. Also, using a wide angle lens with small aperture helps you achieve sharpness in your landscape right from foreground to the background. The standard wide lens used is 24mm. You can go much wider with 14mm on a full frame sensor. For crop sensor cameras you can use a focal length of 11-16mm to get that wide angle perspective in your picture. Though there is no such rule, it is always better to carry a wide angle lens for a landscape.
5. COMPOSITION, SYMMETRY AND RULE OF THIRDS
A right composition is needed to communicate your story or feelings in your photo. Make use of the rule of thirds or symmetry. Try to include a foreground in your landscape. You could make use of anything like a tree or a rock…basically, anything that could get the attention of the viewer’s eyes. It brings the landscape to life. In the rule of third you will see 4 lines, two horizontal and two vertical. It is essential to place the subject on one of these intersections but, is not always necessary. Sometimes the image looks stunning with the focal point in the center as well. You can implement other composition rules like leading lines, balancing objects or the golden ratio to work out a great composition. Having a good composition is a make or break for a Landscape picture.
6. GOLDEN HOUR
Now the golden hour is the most ideal time for landscape photography. It’s an hour during the sunrise or an hour just before sunset. During this time the sunlight is not harsh and is not casting deep shadows. This is the time when the sky is the most dramatic and such conditions are ideal for landscapes. Make sure that you are ready with your camera and gear placed at an ideal location before the golden hour so you make the most of the light to get your perfect shot. The Blue hour is the time when the sun has set or about to rise but has not risen yet. This is also a good time to shoot landscapes and also a time when the sky gets dramatic for your pictures.
7. SKY AND BAD WEATHER
Another time when the sky gets dramatic is when the weather gets bad. It’s a myth when you say that you can’t go outdoors and shoot a landscape if there is a cloudy sky or the weather is bad. On the other hand, with clouds the light is not harsh and it gives an interesting light to the image. The lightning or stormy clouds give a complete different definition to the picture. So if you want to capture bold images and are adventurous, don’t fear to step out of the house and capture those cloudy or stormy landscape moments. Bad weather is somehow an important trigger to help you capture stunning landscapes. There are mobile apps to help you check weather in advance and plan your shoot. Checkout Stellerium and the photographer’s ephemeris
8. CIRCULAR POLARIZER & NEUTRAL DENSITY FILTER
Circular polarizer helps enhance blue skies, deepens colour saturation and removes all the glare and reflection in an image. This especially used when you want to get the glare off the water. Circular Polarizers are must for getting good Landscape Pictures.
The ND filter controls the amount of light that comes into the lens. There are various ND filters available in the market, to help you to change the amount of light in your image. Generally a 10 stop ND Filter is the most useful as it steps down light in 10 stops. As a result you can use longer shutter speeds to get a blurry sky and create a very dramatic Landscape. The x factor in landscapes comes with making right use of the ND Filters. A camera mounted on a steady tripod with an ND filter attached is a lethal combination for Landscape photography.
9. DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Well, last but not the least, a good perspective. It’s easy to copy others and or get influenced by other photographer’s photography styles. But, if you want to build a uniqueness of your own then, getting a different perspective can give that extra edge to your landscape photo. So, this means you might have to climb extra meters on to high mountains than what normally people do or even lie down in the middle of a road to capture that perfect photo…just do it…!! If it is appealing to you, then don’t fear from exploring. To get a different perspective, you sure have to work hard.
10. PROCESSING YOUR PHOTO
Processing your Landscape pictures is a complete necessity and is very much required to create a stunning image. While there is a lot of data in your raw photos, this data needs to be enhanced further making use of photo processing software’s. The best software’s available for post processing are undoubtedly Adobe Lightroom & Adobe Photoshop. Adobe offers exciting monthly plans to access and use its software’s at very affordable rates. At $10 per month, it is worth the investment for your stunning Images.
Buy Licenced Adobes Lightroom & Photoshop subscriptions here
You can play around with the saturation, light, shadows and highlights in the image or also use advance techniques like Luminosity masks in Adobe Photoshop to create more impact in the photo. But, you need to make sure you do it in proportion and do not go overboard. Because if you go overboard, you may just end up making your photos look unnatural. So, just a precise amount of post processing is very much required to get your landscape photography up to the mark. Editing your landscapes or any other pictures is an art in itself and you need to learn the tools first. We would advise to learn the tricks from the best.
You can try some of the best online course including post processing at Digital Photography School.