A few basic rules
When I first started in photography and started taking pictures of landscapes (and just about everything else), I thought ‘why can’t I get my photos to look like the ones in the magazines’? I thought my photos looked good, but, when I compared them to other photos I realized that they lacked something.
Well, apart from the fact they were taken by professionals in exotic locations, with equipment I could only dream of owning, they were also taken with a lens that was suitable for that purpose ( more often a wide angle lens) and they were taken by someone who new about the rules and general guides you should use when photographing landscapes. So now, after putting into practice the things I’d learned over the years; here’s a general guide to photographing landscapes.
Dawn and dusk
So what’s a good time of day to shoot a nice landscape?, the best times, so the professionals will tell you , is around dawn and dusk; when the light is softer and warmer; at these times of the day, you may also have the advantage of getting a sunrise or sunset into the picture.
Depth of field
You will need to set your camera to create a good depth of field so that you get everything in the scene in sharp focus by using a high f/stop number (such as f/18-f/22).
As you’ll be using a high f/stop; the size of the aperture will be smaller and therefore, will be letting in less light, which means you’ll need a slower shutter speed, this could make the images blurry so, to avoid this you will need to use a tripod; you don’t need to pay a lot of money for a tripod; as long as it supports your camera and lens comfortably.
If you really want to get a sharp landscape image, then use a cable release ( if your camera supports one); just by pressing the shutter button can cause minute vibrations (more so with a telephoto lens) that can cause a blurry image.
Some compacts and bridge cameras allow you to attach a cable release directly to the shutter button, while the remote cable release is used more and more by DSLR users.
Rule of thirds
One of the first things a photographer learns is the ‘rule of thirds’; it’s a guide that is used to help with composition for a balanced photograph.It works like this: when looking through your viewfinder (or LCD screen) draw four imaginary lines; two horizontally, one a third from the bottom and one third from the top, and then another two vertically one third from the left and then one third from the right; where they cross is where you would put your point(s) of interest.
Of course, this is more of a guide than a rule, but it can help someone who’s new to photography to get a more balanced picture.
Another tip that you’ll hear a lot and that is keep your horizon straight. Although it may seem obvious, it’s amazing how many people (more so when they’re new to photography) overlook this most basic tip and spoil an otherwise good photograph when it could be easily rectified with a little more thought. Although the most basic image editing software can sort the problem; it’s good practice to get it right when you’re taking the picture.
Try putting something in the foreground of your picture; something that will lead the eye into the photograph to create more interest, also, have a focal point, what made you want to shoot the scene in the first place? what caught your eye?. It’s much more pleasing to the viewer of your photographs when there’s a focal point.
Awesome shots of landscapes, selected from Flickr’s creative commons.
Image by Zoutedrop
Image by Hakan Dahlstrom
Landscape in infrared by Irargerich
Another image by Zoutedrop
Snowy landscape by bettybraun
Sandstone slot canyan, AZ. Awesome! by SteveD
Another great image by SteveD
Aurora Borealis. Brilliant!. Image by Beverly and pack
Lone tree-Mongolian landscape by tiarescott
Grand Canyon by Grand Canyon NPS
Castle Rocks Spring by The Knowles Gallery
Cathedral Peak, Yosemite National Park by SteveD
‘Something for the Weekend’ by Tony.Wood