Featured photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels.
No question, landscape photography is without a doubt one of the most popular genres when it comes to photography, and it’s not hard to understand why so many people like it.
Every person who has ever held a camera or smartphone in their hands has attempted to take a gorgeous landscape photo at some point. Scenic views are always awe-inspiring and spur us to capture its beauty through photography.
Many professional photographers can, in fact, thank landscape photography for inciting their love for the craft all those years back. If you are an aspiring photographer and want to take your photography skills to the next level, here are a few tips that can help you hone your skills and enable you to capture beautiful landscape shots.
1. Finding The Perfect Spot
Capture the beauty of the view before you take skill which begins by knowing where to take the shot. Finding the perfect spot takes a lot of skill and practice. This means planning your shoot way ahead of time to makes sure that you won’t be wasting time going around the place looking for the spot. Doing a little bit of research before you arrive on location will also give you the foresight to know the camera gear you’ll have to take with you.
Lucky for you, the internet exists to give you an idea of the perfect angle to take beautiful shots. A cursory look on images about the place online will surely show you a nice vantage point to set up your equipment. You can also improve on the shot by changing a few elements like lens use, camera angle, and lighting.
Once you get an idea of the place and the possible points for which to take the picture, you will need then to examine available maps to know if the spots you have chosen are accessible enough for you and all your gears. A beautiful valley might require you to scale to higher levels to capture the perfect shot away from any possible obstruction. A gorgeous castle might mean walking quite a fair distance to appreciate the structure and its landscape fully.
All this you will see in maps that show elevation. A small note, you might want to take some time practicing how to read such maps, but once you’ve mastered it, planning for a shot in the future is going to be a breeze.
Scenic photography puts you closer to traditional photography in that you will have to use natural lighting. In the past, the first cameras were used primarily to take landscape shots and heavily relied on natural light. Fast forward to about a hundred years, the technology might be completely different, but the technique is still the same.
A skill that all landscape photographers have mastered, more than all other genres, is understanding lighting. Even the most breathtaking scenery will look drab and uninspired when captured at the worst time of the day. Therefore in taking the shot, consider the current weather.
Time of the day is also another element to factor in. Many professionals will recommend taking the shot early in the morning or late in the afternoon. This way, the light is more dispersed, which creates a soft golden glow from the sun’s light.
It’s all about the composition and how light plays into it. For example, if you want to capture a cliff face, then you’ll have to wait for the right time of the day that the light hits it just right. Gorgeous buildings are best showcased in silhouette or with the sun behind them creating a backlit shot, so this means morning or late afternoon shots.
One advantage that many landscape photographers have over other photography style is the element of time. Landscapes are permanent, which means more time for you to prepare in order to take the perfect shot. As long as you arrive early on location and brought with you all the gears you will need, then you have a lot of time to set up and prepare for the shot.
When I arrive on location, I’d like to sit back and look around, appreciating the magnificent view in front of me. This is the point where I get my inspiration and resolve to capture the view in front of me. This quiet time also allows me to rest and catch my breath, especially if it took a while coming to the spot. Once I’m calm and collected, I would then start taking test shots, playing around with my setting as well as waiting for the perfect light.
I play around with highlighting different elements of the shot, focusing on the foreground, the sky, or a particular point of interest. Once the right time comes, I’m ready to take my shots without too much adjustment on my gear or settings.
4. Bring a Tripod
If you want to excel in landscape photography, then having the right gear is imperative and this includes a tripod. Capturing the best landscape picture in the best available light will mean holding the camera a certain way for an extended period of time, something no human can do. There are certainly other means to achieve this without a tripod, but it will have an effect on the quality of image such as excessive noise in the photograph.
Another advantage of having a tripod is having a lot more options when it comes to capturing the best image. With a tripod, you can slow the shutter speed to capture movements of water or clouds. It will mean being able to adjust settings on your camera without it affecting the position of the camera and the composition of the image.
5. Graduated filter
Another essential equipment you will need to become an excellent landscape photographer is a graduated filter. Many professionals encounter many challenges in photographing a landscape, especially in low light conditions when the difference between light and dark is too profound. You see this happening when you are trying to photograph a landscape near dusk with mountains obstructing the sun.
Here, the sky is still well lit, but your subject is under the shadow of the mountains. If you adjust for the sky then your foreground will be underexposed. But if you adjust for the dark foreground, then the sky will be overexposed. The easiest way to compensate for this difference in lighting would be to use a graduated filter, which will help balance the difference in light intensity.
6. Play with the shutter speed
I mentioned earlier that one great advantage of landscape photography is the amount of time you have to prepare. Even if you have a short window to capture the image, it is still enough to compensate for minute changes in the environment, especially in the amount of light you have. In this case, you will need to be adept at changing different settings to compensate for the amount of light you have. There are many ways to do this, but the quickest way is to play around with the shutter speed in your camera.
For example, the slower shutter speed will enable you to capture the movement of clouds in the image by having streaks of white on your image. Also, the action of crashing waves is a lot more obvious when shot at lower shutter speed. Don’t be afraid to play around with the shutter speed once you’re on location. The worst that can happen is you’ll have a lot of blurry pictures, but you might be surprised at some of the results you will get.
The final stage of creating a wonderful landscape image is the post-production. For film cameras, this means going into the darkroom and processing the film. For digital photographers, it means uploading the image on your computer, editing, and enhancing them through the use of image processing software. Almost every genre of photography goes through this process.
The amount of post-production differs between individuals. Some prefer the barest minimum of it while others are heavy-handed in their editing.
Whatever your preference may be, it’s important to remember a few key things. One, make sure the image is straight, clear, and devoid of dust spots. You should also pay attention to the white balance of the picture. You should also crop certain photos if it needs to be. Lastly, make sure the contrast of the image is good as well as its saturation to help the subject of your image really stand out.
Many go into landscape photography because it is quite rewarding. It brings you to different locations around the world. You get to enjoy popular scenery as well as unseen wonders no one has ever laid eyes on and you’ll be the first to showcase it to the world. It’s no surprise that landscape photography is one of the most popular genres of photography.