The essential elements to capturing beautiful landscape photography images.
In this video we give you an introduction to landscape photography. Landscape photography is arguably the most popular area of photography as we capture the amazing scenes the world has to offer. Most people who have ever touched a camera will at some point have taken a landscape photograph. This does not mean it is easy however with most of these images being nothing more than snapshots. The interest in viewing these images is also massive with landscape photography shots capturing far greater attention on photo sharing mediums such as Instagram and Flickr.
With this in mind, truly great landscape photography is not as common as you might think. A quick flick through Instagram will show this and is proof that landscape photography is an art. Having the natural talent and 'eye' for things will be a large help but there are certain rules that, if followed, will allow you to start capturing some beautiful images.
Gear - Great landscapes can be captured with any type of camera including smartphones. To take things to the next level though you will need a camera with the ability to shoot at wider angles. Having these wider angles allows more of the scene to be captured. Extreme wide angles can also give the sense of how big the scene is when used correctly.
A tripod is also extremely useful for landscape photographs. It becomes essential for long exposure landscapes or even when the light begins to fade and your shutter speed slows down.
The Secret - The absolute key to getting amazing landscape photography images is to travel to somewhere with amazing scenery. A simple fact that is not always easy achieve.
Rule of Thirds - This is a common photography rule that gives guidance to composition and to what can create pleasing images. In landscape photography the rule of thirds is best applied to where we place our horizon line. Keeping the horizon line along the bottom third of the image or the top third of the image will create a much more pleasing image than a horizon that runs along the middle of the frame.
The Golden Hour - The hour after sunrise and before sunset is known as the golden hour. When the sun is low in the sky it creates a beautiful golden light that will flood your scene and produce long interesting shadows. Use this to your advantage when composing your shot.
Focusing - Most landscape photography will require sharpness from the front to the back of the image. Focusing on the area about 1/3 of the way into your scene will usually provide the optimal focus. Hyperfocal distance dictates the science around this and can be read about here. If you have a key point to your image such a castle, then focus on that point.
Camera mode - Manual. Use landscape photography to introduce yourself to shooting in manual and controlling your exposure in every way.
Aperture - To get everything in focus we generally want to use a small aperture (large f/stop number). To get front to back sharpness, f/11 or f/16 will nearly always provide this. If your shot does not contain any foreground then f/8 can be used to maximise sharpness as many lenses are at their sharpest at f/8.
ISO - 100 or lower.
Shutter Speed - Control your overall exposure with the shutter speed. If the shutter speed starts to get slow then ensure you employ your tripod.
Lighting - Shooting into the sun might, at first, seem like a silly thing to do. However it can result in some really interesting images and includes all sunset shots. Shooting with the sun directly behind you will often result in flat images in terms of contrast. the same applies when the sun is directly above.
Filters — Your landscape photography can be taken to the next level by introducing filters such as neutral density gradients, circular polarises, infrared and big stop neutral density filters that allow you to capture long exposure landscapes.
Long Exposure Photography tutorial - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/long-exposure-photography-tutorial
Infrared Landscape Tutorial - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/tutorials/infrared-photography-part-1
Use the timer - When using a tripod, using the timer or a shutter release cable will ensure there is no unwanted movement in the camera.
Following these simple rules will give you a solid base on which to start building your landscape photography portfolio. Be warned, it is an addictive pursuit and you will find yourself regularly checking weather forecasts, tidal times, sunset and sunrise times and travel times to certain locations. Good luck and enjoy.
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