If you plan to do a little traveling this summer and visit the great outdoors, you may want to use that time to work on your landscape photography as well! Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your outside summer travels.
Maximize your Depth of Field
While there may be times that you want to get a little more creative and experiment with narrow depth of fields in your landscape photography, the normal approach is to ensure that as much of your scene is in focus as possible. The simplest way to do this is to choose a small aperture setting (f/9 – f/22) to increase the depth of field in your shots. Remember that smaller apertures mean less light is hitting your image sensor, so you will need to compensate either by increasing your ISO or lengthening your shutter speed (or both).
Look for a Focal Point
All shots need a focal point and landscapes are no different. Many times, landscape photographs without a focal point can look empty and will leave the viewers’ eye wondering through the image with nowhere to rest. Focal points can take many forms in landscape photographs; from a building or structure, a stately tree or even a rock formation. A good rule of thumb is to think not only about what the focal point is, but where it is placed. Using the rule of thirds might be useful in this instance. To use the rule of thirds, imagine four lines – two lying horizontally across the image and two vertical, creating nine even squares. Some images will look best with the focal point in the center square, but placing the subject off-center or on one of the intersections will create extra interest as it creates a pleasing layout. Also remember, a landscape isn’t just about nature; you can include people inyour image as well. A beautiful landscape can be complemented by a child running or jumping through the flowers. Remember the rule of thirds and place the person in an off-center position to create interest. Choose a fast shutter speed if you want to freeze the action or a slower shutter speed if you want to capture movement.
One element that can set apart your landscape shots is to think carefully about the foreground of your shots and to place points of interest in them. By using this method, you give the image a sense of depth. Wide-angle lenses are preferred because they can show a broader view and give a sense of wide open space. For example, taking an image at f/16 will make both the foreground and background sharp.
Sky’s The Limit
Most landscapes will either have a dominant foreground or sky. If you have a bland or boring sky, don’t let it dominate your shot; place the horizon in the upper third of your shot. But remember, you’ll also want to make sure your foreground is interesting. On the other hand, if the sky is filled with interesting cloud formations and colors, let it be your focus by placing the horizon lower. A scene can also change dramatically depending upon the weather at any given moment. Many beginner photographers see a sunny day and think that it’s the best time to go out with their camera. However, an overcast day that is threatening rain might present you with a much better opportunity to create an image with real mood and ominous overtones. Many professional photographers call an overcast day ‘natures’s diffuser’ and take advantage of the beautiful images that can be created without harsh shadows. For an added challenge, look for storms, wind, mist, dramatic clouds, sun shining through dark skies, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises, then work with these variations in the weather rather than just waiting for the next sunny day.
Spending time outdoors and being with nature can make landscape a favorite to shoot. However, at times, patience is key and there will be times when conditions do not cooperate. Some landscape photographers will sit for hours to get one stunning shot for the whole day; that one magic shot makes the time worthwhile. Explore the environment and experiment with different view points; you just may find your unique shot.