Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Landscape photography - Part 1

This is a two part article on Landscape Photography.

Good landscape photography is not just achievable by high end cameras such as SLRs, but very good quality photos can also be taken with a standard compact camera. The key point here is that it is not the equipment that makes the photograph, it is the photographer.

Compact cameras often do not have interchangeable lenses like SLRs, but the Landscape mode and zoom facility on most compact cameras will allow you to take landscape photographs.

Most compact camera should enable you to have some control over the aperture, shutter speed, the ISO, exposure compensation (+/-) and  focusing. Some compact cameras will also allow the user to take full control over the focusing using the ‘manual’ mode.

Taking photographs of landscapes is fairly easy if you keep the following few tips in mind. These tips can be applied to both point & shoot compact cameras and SLR’s.

1) Maximize Depth-of-Field

In landscape photography, Depth-of-Field plays an important role: the normal rule is to make sure that the fore and background of the scene is in focus as much as possible, which is often known as maximising the depth-of-field. However, there will be times when you will want to be creative and experiment with ‘shallow’ depth-of-field in your landscape photography. 

Keep in mind that when using smaller apertures (i.e. f11, f22, etc.) less light is hitting the image sensor/film, you may have to compensate by increasing the ISO or adjusting the shutter speed, in some cases you may have to change both.

Some lower specification compact cameras may not have the facility to allow you to change any of the settings; in this case it is best to use the Landscape mode. 

The photograph below is taken using a compact camera set on Landscape mode:

Yellow carpet

The photograph below is taken using a DSLR set on Aperture mode:

Snow trees

2) Use a Tripod

As you may be using longer shutter speed, a tripod is recommended which will minimise any camera shake

3) Include a Focal Point

All images need to have ‘point’ where the viewer’s attention is drawn into the photograph. Without the focal point, landscape photographs will look empty leaving your viewer’s eye wondering through the image without having the desired impact of the landscape.
Here are some examples of Focal points in landscapes and these can range from a building, structure, a tree, a boulder or rocks, a silhouette, etc. Using the ‘rule of thirds’ can be very useful here.

Place your points of interest on the either one of the green dots. Most cameras have the above grid; use the grid to frame your shot.


4) Include Foregrounds

Most landscapes images work well with a foreground; always think carefully about the foreground of your images and by placing points of interest in them. By including this element you give your viewer a way of looking into the image as well as creating a sense of depth in the photograph.

Photograph taken in Scotland
The lake

5) Change your View Point

It is always best to take a little more time with your photography, especially in finding the most interesting view. Look around and find a different spot to shoot from than the one just in front of you: take a walk down paths, look for new angles, this means getting down lower to the ground, finding a higher up vantage point to photograph from. Explore your scene and experiment with different viewpoints and you will find something magical.

This photograph was taken looking up the cave, photograph taken at Peak Cavern, Casleton in the Peak District, Derbyshire

Ghost tree

6) Look out for Horizons

It’s best that before you take a landscape photograph always look at the horizon on two points:

a)      Is the horizon straight? It is easier to have your horizon straight in the camera viewfinder before pressing the shutter release, saving time to straighten the image later in editing softwares.

      b)     Where to place the horizon? The ‘correct’ natural spot for a horizon is on either the top third line or the bottom line of the ‘rule of thirds’, rather than completely in the middle. In saying this, rules can be broken if you are completely sure that your image with the horizon is very striking.

(See diagram below for where to place the horizon)

The cliff

I hope this brief insight into Landscape Photography assists you in taking better Landscape photographs.

Landscape photography will be published next month on the 17th August 2016.

Bhupinder Ghatahora