Welcome to my post on Landscape Photography. In this post we will look at some of the fundamentals of landscape photography. You don’t need be a professional photographer to capture beautiful landscapes. Although DSLR with a decent lens is preferred but not necessary. Modern mobile devices and compact cameras have very good image quality and can be used for landscape photography. Hopefully this post will inspire some landscape photography ideas of your own.
Rarely do we get a perfect image without planning. Sometimes we just happen to be at the right place at the right time with the right gear. But it doesn’t happen often. Landscape photography requires ahead of time planning. Before heading out you must consider a few things like location, time of day, weather, and season.
Every season has its own beauty with summer time being the most popular. It is a great time to head out and truly let your creativity explode. The natural hue of summer evening skies make stunning landscape photographs. Longer days mean more time to work with natural light. Warm nights and campfires makes it a great time for astrophotography.
Location and Weather
Location and weather sometimes go hand in hand. I live in Vancouver BC and it is nicknamed as Raincouver. It rains here a lot which can interfere with the outdoor activities. Summer and spring are great times of the year for my local location to shoot most of my photography.
Your locale may have different times of the year that may be more advantageous to you photography. If you live in warm climate than weather may not be much of an interference in your photography ventures. For areas with more active weather conditions, listening to local weather forecast may help you plan around undesirable conditions.
If you plan on venturing out further from where you live than there are some apps that can help you choose a good location. Google is one them which allows you to see virtually any location on the planet. This will give a good sense of the surroundings and help you plan before you head out. It can also inform you about sunrise and sunset times in your chosen location. This can be a great tool for working with maximum available natural light.
Alltrails.com is a website that lists over 60,000 trails around the world. It is a great site to discover and share off-road recreation areas.
Time of Day
Time of day should be taken into consideration when planning landscape photo shoot. Time will determine the direction of the light. Sunset and sun rise are best for certain kind of effects like sidelight or back light.
Mid-day might not be the best time for certain locations where the sun in too harsh. This will risk your image to over expose and look washed out. If you must shoot in harsh daylight, then the remedy to that is neutral density filters (NDF)
Neutral density filters are used to block harsh day light by filtering out the high intensities. NDF’s come in ratings of ND2, ND4, ND6, and so on. Higher numbers relate to higher amount of light being blocked.
All this planning should be done well before you head out. Nowadays most of this information can be easily accessed from a smartphone or a simple Google search.
Composition for Landscapes
An artist uses his brush to paints until the canvas is filled with the desired elements. In photography it is the opposite. A photographer looks for ways to remove the elements that are distracting on the canvas. This process requires patience and practice. Here are some ideas that might help you start thinking in composition.
Having a good sense of observation is one key to master this process. When you arrive at your chosen location, spend some time just looking around and observing. Try to find an angle of composition that includes objects of your theme. Move around if you see something distracting and does not fit in your composition.
There may be distractions like electric power lines or an antenna tower if you are trying to capture peace and tranquility of nature. By carefully observing the scene you will be able to remove such flaws.
Framing is used emphasize your subject or object of your focal point. Natural framing like trees, clouds, and mountains can have a striking effect on your composition. Pay special attention to the brightness and colors of the frame. Having it too bright or too dark can throw your image off balance. The effect of the frame may also be compromised if it is the same color as the subject. There should be some color contrast between the frame and the subject.
- Add a Person
Adding human element to landscape is great way to enhance the captivity of your focal point. Having people in you scene can add a sense of personal feel. There are amazing pictures on the internet of landscapes around the world but most of them lack human presence. Adding some kind of human presence makes it feel more touchable and gives you a sense of being there.
Photo by Eric Kane
- Subject Direction.
When composing landscapes pay special attention to the direction your subject is looking. Your subject should be looking into the picture. The picture appears intact and wrapped if the subject is looking into the picture. A subject placed looking out of the picture creates imbalance and uncertainty.
Having the right gear increases your chances of getting good photos. You don’t need to go with the latest and the greatest. Like I said earlier most modern smartphones and compact cameras are pretty good. But to take your photos to the next level, I recommend a good DSLR preferably a full-frame camera. Few other things are needed if you plan to go out into the fields.
A solid tripod is highly recommended. Cheap tripods tend to be flimsy and not stable. A cheap tripod could cost you more than just good images. A failed tripod could mean hundreds of dollars’ worth of camera equipment being destroyed.
You need something that can withstand a gust of wind and not shake or tip over. Setting up for landscape photography can be a challenge. A solid tripod is needed to work around rocky, wet, and sandy areas where the ground is not smooth or sturdy.
A comfortable and durable backpack is recommended for outdoor adventures. It is good idea to use a back pack that is strong and waterproof with reinforced paddings. This will keep your camera and lenses safe from the elements.
Lens is the most important element in photography. Ultimately the quality of you image will depend on the quality of you lens. Some cameras come with kit zoom lenses. They are great for outdoor daylight shootings where light is available in abundance. You might find these lenses underperforming in low light conditions such as overcast skies.
In those situations you will need a prime lens. A prime lens is a fixed focal length lens that is capable of wide aperture. Prime lens does not have any zoom capabilities. This will force you to walk around and compose your scene from different locations. This is a better approach for composition since you’re moving and seeing as opposed to just standing and rotating the zoom dial on your lens.
Remember there are no hard set rules for photography. These are some basic ideas for people beginning in the field of landscape photography. As you become more experienced all this will become second nature. Photography is an art and is subjective.
Camera is your canvas and brush to express an artistic creation. Landscape photography or any photography is a lifelong learning process. It is a journey that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Every photo-shoot will bring with an opportunity to learn and explore.
The learning possibilities are endless. It is a great way to inspire children to learn and explore our lands and wilderness. How nature has assembled our planet with mind blowing geography. Rocky Mountains and serpent like winding rivers appear alive when seen from distance. Photography is a field that can help you capture the majestic art of nature. So get you camera out and explore.
I hope this article have given you some insight into the landscape photography. If you have any comments or questions please leave them below.