Everyone has their own way of shooting a landscape. Some prefer to shoot on manual mode other prefer aperture mode and a few beginners would choose to shoot on auto or program mode. While it is not defined that which method serves well than the other, there is always an optimum way to achieve a perfect landscape. This article will help you to get the most appropriate way of achieving stunning landscapes.
Listed down are the most important steps to be considered while shooting landscapes.
Location & Weather
Location plays an undoubtedly very important role in any landscape photography. Once the location is finalized the next important thing to keep in mind is to reach the destination before time so as to imagine the place in different kinds of light. Good landscapes are usually shot during the golden hours i.e. during the sunset and sunrise, when the sky is lit with beautiful colors and clouds. Reaching the destination at least an hour before time is advisable as you can find out the best spot for a good composition. Spending some time scouting for good vantage point proves very important to achieving a good landscape photo.
Shot Information- focal length: 58mm, Exposure: 1/60 sec; +0.67; f/8; ISO200; Manual priority
The next important thing to check is the weather forecast of that place. Weather plays an important role deciding the fate of your landscape. Checking the weather forecast has now a days became a very easy task as there are many weather applications available on smart phones.
First and foremost a vital accessory for a good landscape photograph is a strong and a sturdy tripod. A tripod should be able to carry the weight of your camera and the lens easily. Landscapes can be shot handheld but while doing so you miss out on some of the important aspects of shooting a good landscape such as bracketing and the use of ND filters and polarizers. Also by using a tripod, any camera shakes will be avoided ensuring a sharp picture. So, in many ways a tripod is the most necessary equipment for landscape photography. I use the Benro IT25 aluminum tripod for my NikonD810.
Wide angle lenses such as the NIKON14-24mm or the Tokina 10-16mm or even the kit lens such as 18-55 mm are preferred for landscape photography. Wide prime lenses such Nikon 20 mm f1.8, or the Samyang 14mm f2.8 can be used. Apart from wide angle lenses telephoto lenses such as Nikon 24-120mm f4 kit lens or Nikon 70-200 mm f2.8 can also be used for landscapes. I use the Nikon 16-35 f4 lens as my go to lens for landscape photography.
3. Wired Remote
Wired remote is also an essential accessory to shoot sharp landscape images. Also, to avoid blurry images caused by camera shake.
4. Camera Body
It is said, a camera body doesn’t not matter as much as a person behind the camera does. Crop sensor body or a full frame sensor camera body can prove effective for a good landscape. Smaller sensors such as the micro 4 thirds can also produce a stunning landscape image. The more important things to worry about are the camera settings for that particular scene.
Shot Information- focal length: 35mm, Exposure: 06 sec; f/11; ISO 80; Manual priority
There are a few ways to capture a landscape mainly through manual priority mode or aperture priority mode. Unlike manual mode where the exposure is to be determined manually looking at the scene in front of you and setting appropriate shutter speed, aperture and ISO, the aperture priority mode proves to be more versatile and an easy way to achieve a good exposure. In landscape photography to achieve everything in focus normal range starts from f8 depending upon the light and the depth of field. Once such aperture value is set in the aperture priority mode of the camera the rest of the exposure in terms of shutter speed calculation is taken care by camera. Shooting a landscape on aperture priority mode becomes an easy way to get the job done.
Below are the settings for shooting a landscape on an aperture priority mode.
|1||Aperture||f8 and above||To get maximum landscape in focus.|
|2||Shutter speed||Decided by camera|
|3||ISO||50-200||Higher ISO value can create noise in photographs.|
|4||White balance||Auto||Can be corrected during post processing.|
|5||Picture quality||RAW||To get more data on your sensors a RAW file also is the best while post processing.|
|6||Drive mode||Single Shot/Bracketing||Bracketing takes 3-5 shots as per different exposure, all of which needs be stacked in post processing to get the desired results.|
|7||Metering mode||Matrix/Spot||Generally, matrix metering works satisfactorily whereas spot metering needs some practice.|
|8||Active daylighting||Off||To increase the efficiency of light collection for an available lighting. This is an optional setting.|
|9||High ISO Noise reduction||Off|
|10||Image stabilization||On||This Is an optional setting depending upon the lens and the camera body.|
|11||Bit Depth||Use the highest bit depth allowed by your camera 12 Bit/14 Bit||Allows more data to be captured In RAW files|
Landscape is not just a picture of a place, it should be able to tell the story of that place. Landscape stands out on its own only when it has a great composition and light. I believe that more than any other aspect of photography composition is the most prime.
Better composition can be achieved by following the standard rules such as rule of thirds, golden ratio and golden spiral. Typical example of rule of third is shown in the below picture.
Shot Information- focal length: 50mm, Exposure: 1/800 sec; f/3.2; ISO 160; Aperture priority.
Subjects of interest like shown in above photograph should be placed at the intersections of lines. Just like the grid of rule of thirds there are grids like the golden ratio and the golden spiral.
Composing a good landscape consists of a foreground, mid ground and the background. Such elements, brings good depth to the landscape and helps to reinforce your feeling and convey it to the viewer.
Use of leading lines in the composition directs the viewer’s eyes into the picture making the picture more appealing.
Postprocessing is a make or break for a good landscape. It is equally important as a clicking a picture itself. As a landscape is to be shot In RAW format, it has to be edited to natural colors & contrast through right post processing practices. Standard and widely used software’s available are adobe photoshop and Lightroom. It takes a fair amount of practice using these software’s to edit a landscape in a natural way. Adobe Lightroom is fairly easy to use out of the two. The only key to achieve good edits through these software’s is not to go overboard with the adjustments of the tools.
Shot Information- focal length: 35mm, Exposure: 1/400 sec; f/14; ISO 200; Aperture priority.
Does & don’ts of Landscape Photography.
- Pack your gear properly: Make sure you carry extra batteries, memory cards and Filters (ND filters for blurring out clouds/water bodies & Circular polarizers for managing reflections, suppressing glares or to darken skies)
- Plan your landscape shoot beforehand and reach early.
- Wait for the right light before you take your final picture. Blue hours after sunset often cast a beautiful color shades in the sky that could compliment your foreground. A blue hour light can completely transfer your picture.
- Create a visual balance in the composition by including foregrounds in your pictures.
- Discover minimalism in your compositions to get artistic landscapes.
- Create star bursts of the sun by using the highest aperture value like f22.
- Find new viewpoints and explore abstract details and maintain symmetry in the compositions.
- Experiment with different metering modes like spot metering.
- Don’t worry about shooting with the best or the latest camera available.
- Avoid cropping your landscapes after shooting wide. Get it right in the composition.
Shot Information- focal length: 16mm, Exposure: 1/80 sec; f/8; ISO 160; Manual priority.
Shot Information- focal length: 16mm, Exposure: 03 sec; f/22; ISO 50; Manual priority.