Landscape Photography Tips and Tricks
Landscape photography is one of the simplest and, arguably, one of the easiest photography techniques to try because in essence, all you need is a view and a camera to photograph it with. But here are a few tips and tricks to try out to improve the results you get from your landscape photography forays.
Keep It Simple
One of our first tips is to keep things simple. By choosing a viewpoint that restricts the number of elements in a shot, you can create emphasis on both the key interest in the shot and the vista itself. By choosing one main subject or ensuring separation between the main subject and the background, it will help emphasise your shot and add vibrancy and power to any images you make.
Remember the Foreground
Always try to frame a wide-angled landscape shot with something in the foreground to lead the viewer’s eye into the shot. Move your position or view-point if you cannot find something suitable, but a good tip is to get the camera low to the ground and use the lower perspective to help emphasise the viewer’s path into the image you end up creating.
Use Low Contrast to Best Effect
Contrast, simply put is the difference between darker and lighter areas or edges in scene or photograph. Think of a shot of a landscape with lots of sky and you expose for the foreground details but when you look at the shot the sky is overexposed. Or you expose for the brighter sky and all the foreground detail becomes a silhouette, lacking any detail.
Contrast is greater on sunny or brighter days, so the problems described above are more likely to occur in those conditions, which is why if you want a dramatic sunset shot with a foreground silhouette, it works better on those brighter days.
Other ways around getting all the scene information in one photo include using High Dynamic Range (HDR) techniques or a Neutral Density (ND) filter, but both of those a topics for another day. Black and white images are even more affected by contrast but again, that is another topic for another time. For today, the best way to think about use of contrast is to visualise what you want from the image and this will be governed by the light and conditions you’re shooting in.
If you have days such as those in autumn or the Spring where you get low fog or mist for example, it can make a perfect subject for lower contrast shooting. The fog or mist will even-out the contrast between brighter and darker areas and so can make for some stunning soft-effect low contrast images.
This so-called tonal contrast is key to the effect. Images with harsh (bright) lighting tend to be full of deep shadow and bright areas, a scene in lower lighting or in fog and misty conditions are always going to look “flat” or soft with a much broader range of tones from deep shadow to the brighter highlights.
While mist or fog may not seem very enticing for creating lovely landscapes, neither might stormy days, but again, you’d be wrong. High winds can create cloud conditions that are ideal for dramatic skies in a landscape, if the sun comes out and you have strong cloud cover as well, then again, this can create dramatic deep cloud colours and bright emphasis in other areas of the shot.
Patience is the key here as you might need to wait for the light to become right for what you want to achieve, so set up and wait for conditions to provide the right light.
Move location or wait for early morning and early evening, but patience will pay you back. The key here is not to think “the weather is bad, I won’t go out”, No! It should be just the opposite. So get out there – no matter what the weather – and get taking those landscapes today.
Another thing to try is to subvert the traditional and try something a little more creative. One one of those things is to add movement to a shot by taking multiple exposures. I tried this with a shot of buttercups moving in a breeze, and shot it in camera using its multiple exposure mode. There are three exposures here and while the effect is attractive it’s not quite enough and needs more work.
I downloaded the (now free to download) Nik Software image editing effects plug-ins for Photoshop (they operate as stand alone programs too) and played around enhancing edges, colours and came up with something completely different and I like the neon-looking effect.
Set your camera on a tripod to keep it stable and in order to get the shot the way I did, then take as many exposures as you feel will work. It’s all trial and error, although you can always omit shots later at the post shoot processing stage. Alternatively you can just adjust the shutter speed on your camera to something very slow, say a 10th of a second and shoot handheld, but with the intention of capturing any movement.
That’s it for today’s tips, but make sure you check back soon and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog to keep up to date with all at Capture and Create.