PART 2 OF 51 OF: LEARN ALL 51 SUBJECTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY:
Learning how to take beautiful landscapes takes practice, and patience, and learning how to “see” the landscape as a great piece of art. When I look at the photo above, I see a few things I have to think about when taking this photo and getting a beautiful photo like this:
- I have a waterfall. I will need to use a slow shutter speed, maybe one second to get the blur of the water.
- The sun is setting so my timing has to be perfect to add that color in the background.
- Because I am using a slow shutter speed to get the water to blur, I will need to use my good tripod
- The landscape is very green. I need to find a way to enhance that beauty
- There are people in this photo, but, they are far away. Are they important to create this photo?
- What lens should I use to get the area that I want in my photo?
- What is the most important part of this photo: the sky or the land?
- I need to be aware of subject or ground in the foreground of my photo.
- Use depth of field to the best that I can…. F16 or F32 if possible
- Is there any lines or shapes that will help the composition?
- Plan on taking several photos, one under expose (-), and one over expose (+) to see if one photo looks better
- Would there be another angle that might improve this landscape photo?
- Can I do anything with camera filters that will help me from needing to do “post processing”?
Now, you are probably thinking that there is no way I would think about all those things. After you take enough landscape photos, the answers and tips will come automatically. In fact they will come second nature to you as you get used to finding what works the best for you. Let’s just take a look at some of these things that should be done, and I want to emphasize even more.
Here are several points we can take care of right here: You need to use a slow shutter speed to get the water to blur. In the first photo, I am just guessing that maybe 1 full second would be a beautiful way to make the water blur. Now, using your manual mode, to get the perfect exposure with 1 second, what is your F number? Is it F16 or F32, F22? If you still can’t get it to match, make sure your ISO setting is as low as it can go. 100 ISO is usually the lowest these new digital cameras will go. If you still can’t get it to match up, you will need a Neutral Density Filter for your lens. I don’t know any serious landscape photographer who doesn’t have a set of Neutral Density Filters. They are nothing more than a glass filter that cuts down the light through your lens, without changing any color.
Just a note: Any words that are in red, are linked to a website, where you can order these items. Or, just to check out the details of this product more.
To get real good at taking landscapes, the best photos are usually done by shooting in manual mode, where you can control the overall effect of the picture.
Another point made in the list above is the importance of a tripod. If you are going to take photos of landscapes where you need to use slow shutter speed, then you must have a Photo tripod. Just do it. Don’t say you can take a picture with the shutter speed at 1/4 second. It will show up badly if you enlarge it. You want sharp pictures, use a Photo tripod.
Is it a bad thing to add people in your landscape photos? It is not a bad thing if you want to portray perspective in your photo. How big is the valley? How can I let someone know that I am on a cliff? Adding people gives you a great perspective on your landscape photo. But, I would only use them if you want to create perspective.
One of the good rules in composition is to use “leading lines” or lines that direct your attention to a certain part of the photo. If you can find them in your landscape, then please try to use them. It will create more of a feeling of motion with your eyes, to see everything in the picture. If you have lines, then use them.
Exposure bracketing is also a good thing to do to get good at getting the perfect shot. It is one way to tell, by the contrast in the photo, which photo would be best. It involves you shooting one photo right on to what the light meter says, one photo overexposed, and one photo underexposed. Some people will shoot more.
You know you can delete any photos you don’t want to keep in digital photography, so take a lot of exposures, and when you find the one you like, then discard the rest.
I think every photographer would like to take their photo during the “Golden Hour”. Just when is the Golden Hour? That is 1 hour before the sun sets, and 1 hour after sunrise. The sky, the whole picture just looks warmer and more pleasing. And it is a time that every photographer loves. That is why they get up so early, is to get the perfect timing on the light of day.
When you go out to take your great landscape photos, a Wide Angle lens would be a lens you would usually use. Or a wide angle zoom lens would also be ideal, because you can vary the amount you want in your photo. These lenses get the “wide vistas” of a great landscape photo. You just can’t go wrong with this lens.
One more item to attach to your lens is a circular polarizing filter. I have done some “post processing” and find that one thing that works similar to a circular polarizing filter is the “dehazing” adjustment on Lightroom. I like to use that on some of my old photos, but, I can accomplish the same thing as I take the picture, using a circular polarizing filter. It cuts reflections off all non-metallic surfaces, such as trees, grass, and even the little dust particles in the sky. It brings out the colors of your landscape photo by a lot. It is worth the investment.
This whole exercise today was to get you to think about all the different things that go in to making an amazing landscape photo. Go through the list a few times, take the pointers we talked about, and practice, practice, practice. Once you go through this exercise asking all these questions before you push the button, you will be in demand for the amazing photos you take.
For those still learning about how to shoot manually, I found this book that may help: