Below are few tips for Landscape Photography Basics
1. Go out for shoot at or near sunrise and sunset to achieve more balanced exposures.
It is very difficult to shoot at harsh daylight; you get a contrast of light and it’s very difficult to capture details in such conditions especially in shadows and highlighted areas. So plan your shoots accordingly. Keep eye on sunrise and sunset all the time.
2. Keep your composition minimal; avoid adding unwanted objects
Compose your frame in such a way that unwanted objects are excluded. Unwanted objects make landscapes cluttered and viewer easily gets distracted because of it. Remove any element that doesn’t add any value to the image. Unwanted objects are typically: electricity poles, wires, hoardings etc.
3. Always shoot RAW
RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo. RAW captures lots and lots of details as compared to JPEG so always shoot in RAW. It will help while editing when you recover the details. It enables you to easily Correct Dramatically Over/Under Exposed Images (with some limitations). It will help you adjusting the white balance so you do not need to worry about WB while clicking the photos. It helps in getting better prints. That’s what all the PRO’s do!!
4. Do not use the smallest apertures (e.g. f/22)
Use at least 2–3 stops up from the smallest opening in order to achieve sharper images. You will end up having sharper images. Also you will be able to compose more consciously.
While using smaller apertures it’s better to use tripods and avoid handheld shots.
5. Use a remote cable release or the self-timer
Especially in low light conditions when long exposures are required this makes a big difference. This will reduce all the possibilities of camera shake. Even when you are using tripods and you click the shutter using your hands there will be a tiny shake; which is not visible in the camera preview but it will show up on your computer screens. You can use a wireless remote as an alternative. Now a days there are mobile apps which give you similar facilities. Everyone should make use of it.
6. Use Live View in to focus manually
Thank God for the Live View! When using Live View, the mirror is already up, so mirror lock up is not necessary to reduce mirror vibrations. Live View shows 100% of the scene. Some DSLR viewfinders show as little as 95% of the actual image. Using Live View, you can magnify the image, making it easier to manually focus and check depth of field. It’s much easier to focus in the dark. As long as there is some ambient light, Live View will show you enough of an image to be able to focus. Live view gives you better idea of composition. If you are focusing manually make use of live view and focus on the primary element of the composition. (This is very useful while shooting macros as well.)
7. Shoot waterfalls/water blur under overcast conditions
If you are using waterfall / water blur in your landscape composition its preferred to have overcast conditions rather than bright daylight. Overcast conditions will allow you for longer shutter speed in order to achieve that nice silky water movement that you see so often. Use shutter priority mode (TV) and shutter speed of at least 1/15 seconds, or better still use an ND filter to achieve the same effect. While using ND filters make sure you avoid vignette; because you end up cropping the image which is very irritating.
8. Shoot at midday for blue / turquoise water
Midday sun will make sure you get the blue color of the water. This is still a tricky thing if you have harsh light but worth giving it a shot.
9. Make use of lead-in lines
Leading lines are one of the most effective and under-utilized compositional tools available to photographers. They’re used to draw a viewer’s attention to a specific part of the frame, whether it’s a person, or a vanishing point in the background of the frame. Create depth and perspective by positioning a strong line leading from the foreground to the background. An interesting but not dominant foreground also gives the image depth. Create a visual journey from one part of your image to another. Place your subject where the lines converge to give the subject more importance in the frame and draw the viewer’s attention directly to it. Try to add human element in your landscapes to add life.
In nature, pay particular attention to: roads, rivers, shorelines, waves, sand dunes, trees, tall grass, cliffs, rocks, sun rays, fences, boardwalks, bridges, bricks, anything in a row such as lamp posts, buildings, doorways, and window panes.
10. Shoot at the lowest possible ISO (e.g., 100)
Higher ISO gives you lots of noise. Though it is can be decreased you end up losing the details and sharpness. It is advisable to use lowest possible ISO to produce the best possible quality images. Using a tripod will be a big advantage! This is mostly applicable to landscapes and not t most of the other genres.
Going an extra mile in landscape photography basics. . .
1. Expose to the right. (Histogram)
A histogram is a graphical representation of the pixels exposed in your image. The left side of the graph represents the blacks or shadows, the right side represents the highlights or bright areas and the middle section is mid-tones. While clicking a photo make sure that the range of tones are pushed as far as they can go to the right-hand side of the histogram graph without touching the right side. Doing this will increase the amount of information recorded in the image and therefore quality!
2. One is not enough
Many times we take a photo with a particular composition. If satisfied with it we leave it and go to the next one. But we can take two or three different exposures of the same composition and blend them together later in Photoshop by combining the best elements of each. This is a kind of HDR but it is very effective sometimes.
3. Avoid filters when not necessary
Wherever possible, try to avoid using filters. Filters many times soften images and reduce sharpness. Instead of using ND graduated filters, take multiple exposures of same image like foreground, sky and then blend them in Photoshop. If filter is the necessity of the image like for water blur; then take a separate image without the filter and another with the filter and blend in those in Photoshop.
4. Study the location before shooting
Light is the key area for landscapes, studying the light of the location before the shoot is very much needed in case you want very good effects. Also if you can pre visualize the location you can identify the spots from where you will get good photos.
5. Take multiple photos until you get it right
Especially for long exposure photos; try all the combinations of A/S/ISO until you get the desired output. If light is too less increase the speed of the ISO and vice versa. When you adjust ISO you keep the exposure is left intact as well as you do not change the depth of field.
Use manual mode, manual white balance, and manual focus. Overlap each image segment by approximately 30 to 40 percent, and ensure the horizontal level is not being compromised. (Use Tripod).
7. Explore the metering modes
In tricky lighting conditions, experiment using different metering modes rather than always rely on the Evaluative/Matrix metering mode to determine the correct exposure. For example, use the Center Weighted or Spot metering mode.
8. Depth of Field is the key
To further improve depth of field and sharpness and get images appearing tact sharp from the near foreground to the distant background, capture two separate images with the first focused on an element in the foreground and the second on an element in the background. Then blend the two images together later in Photoshop. Photoshop makes this easy by automatically selecting the sharpest sections of both images and combining them!
9. Use the Photographer’s Ephemeris or similar apps
To research locations to shoot in advance and easily identify sunrise and sunset times at any time of the year for a specific location. This tool is a must have, and best of all its completely free!
10. The main rule is there are not rules
Most of all enjoy what you are doing and you will end up getting amazing photos.