Part of being a great landscape photographer is being able to capture the beauty of a scene at a particular and often short moment in time. When all the elements come together; the landscape, the light, and the photography. They are the moments to live for…
Here are a few of my tips for becoming a better landscape photographer;
Shoot in the right weather
You can greatly improve your chances of taking a great landscape photograph by planning ahead, watching the weather forecasts, and thinking about where you need the sun to be. Check tide tables, and study Google Earth if it’s a new location to you. Think about the scene you’re trying to capture; Winter or summer? Morning or night?
Capturing the landscape in the right light
Start thinking more about the quality of light and less about the quantity of light. Good photographers know it’s not all about getting the camera out only on the gloriously sunny summer’s day, as often dawn and dusk can produce the best light for landscape photography. Some of the best photos I’ve taken have been after the sun has gone down at dusk. Set up the camera on a tripod and take a series of images as the light drops away. Put the camera on self timer and keep shooting as the light drops away until you are using exposure times of 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 seconds and compare the results on your computer, you maybe pleasantly surprised with the results. Long exposures work well when taking seascapes and rivers as the resulting images will have a ‘milky’ water which often looks atmospheric. It’s a simple effect that can be beautiful.
Learn to use filters
In order for a landscape photographer to really capture the moment they must learn to use filters. I don’t mean tacky filters that produce cheap effects but rather the use of graduated neutral density filters. A set of ND filters will quickly become your best friend, they come in .3 (one stop), .6 (two stops), .9 (three stops). The best quality are made by Lee Filters, but they don’t come cheap! The filters help to control the quantity of light hitting an area of the sensor thereby controlling the contrast, allowing the photographer to record a greater range of tones from deep shadows through to bright highlights such as the clouds. With a little experimentation the photographer will learn to use them in a subtle way to create atmospheric images. All of the above images have been taken using neutral density filters.
With landscape photography, it’s all about the composition
Leading on from above it is essential to ‘get it right in camera’. I come from a background of working on transparency film where there was no choice but to get it right in the camera. To put it simply you can’t add later what you didn’t record at the time. For some Photoshop is the answer to all mistakes, but it is time consuming, meaning you are not out there taking pictures.