9 Tips to improve Landscape Photography
Quite the opposite of Macro Photography is Landscape Photography. Instead of a big aperture (f4), we want a small aperture (f11, f16, f22), we want to capture all that detail of that landscape, nice, sharp and full of colours. And the same as any style in photography we have a bunch of tips to help get the shot you want.
Personally, I always try to use a tripod, even on the brightest day. I do not want to get home and see blurry images when I look at the photos, especially if I probably will not ever go back to that location.
Let us consider a nice bright day where there is no wind at all and the landscape shot you want, over say a mile distance is not affected by wind. One obvious problem we could encounter is the difference in brightness between the sky and the ground. The camera may underexpose the ground and balance the sky or, overexpose the sky to balance the ground. This needs to be a consideration when taking landscape photos. What we assume here is, we have a fairly overcast sky that is not too bright. I would find a position that gives me the shot I want, set up the tripod, look for a focus point, set the aperture to maybe f11, focus the camera and take a test photo.
In the photo preview, I am looking for areas that are under or overexposed and sharpness. Then maybe take some more shots and preview.
I mentioned earlier about assuming a day where there is no wind. If you imagine wind crossing a plain, every blade of grass and leaves and branches in trees will be moving. Be aware of this. I nice big prominent tree can and will look out of focus 300 meters away because of wind. A way to compensate for this is to up the shutter speed. Again, trial and error.
Let us get on with the tips.
- Use a tripod. Absolutely the number one on the list. While the camera is settled on a tripod, switching to live view, setting the angles and getting the camera in focus is loads easier besides reducing the possibility of blurred shot because of handshake.
- Aperture. A nice big number like f11 f16 will get a lot of the scene in focus.
- Focal Point. Could be a mountain, a lone tree, a winding river or a car on a long road.
- Contrast. Look at the difference in brightness between the sky and the ground. Too much and something has to give and will be overexposed.
- The Golden Hours. We have all heard of this, the time around sunrise and sunset. A great time for landscape.
- Horizons. Remember the ‘Rule of Thirds‘. Try not to place the horizon smack in the middle of the photo.
- Move. If the shot is not quite right, go somewhere else and try again.
- Take your time. Get setup properly, take those test shots and look at the previews.
- Look at other people Landscape Photos. See what other photographers do and learn from it. Have a look at this link for the National Geographic Gallery.
Again the tripod is at the top of the list. Getting the camera as stable as possible, spending the time to set the camera up and get the shot is focus makes all the difference. Fourth on the list is contrast, this could be higher as a huge amount of photos get ruined by skies that are completely overexposed. Spend the time to preview the photos, experiment with angles and sun positions.
Practice makes perfect.