SHOOTING LANDSCAPES – Photography Tip #14
Landscape photography can be one of the most difficult photographic disciplines to get right. When I first began shooting landscapes, I was one of those people who thought it was simple! I mean, all you really had to do was find something interesting and snap the shot. Right? Well, almost!
As far as the technicalities of the camera settings are concerned, though, there isn’t too much to the basic technique. To be certain of capturing a sharp shot with the whole scene in focus, I usually shoot in aperture priority mode and select a small aperture. Remember, a small aperture means a large “F” number – usually at least f/11 and most likely around f/16. If you’re working in low light, the small aperture setting may require the use of a tripod. If you find yourself in need of a tripod and haven’t come prepared with one, your shoot may be over.
The second detail I always remember is my ISO setting. I want as much crisp detail as possible, so I want to set my ISO to the lowest allowable setting – usually 50 or 100 on most DSLR cameras.
The third detail I always consider is lighting. Most people don’t think too much about this in landscape photography because they figure the scene isn’t really going anywhere, so what’s the difference. Well, of course it makes all the difference in the world if you’re shooting a sunrise or sunset. But, what about a landscape like the one below?
The first picture and the last picture were taken about two hours apart. While my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Gladstone’s overlooking the quaint shopping village across the marina, I began to notice a change in the sky. I thought it was becoming more interesting, so I decided to take some additional shots. The first photograph was taken two hours after the last two. Even though the landscape may not experience change throughout the day, everything within the landscape will be constantly changing. So, timing does become an issue of importance.
But what is the most important aspect of landscape photography? I believe in order to be successful in this particular photographic genre, it’s imperative to present scenes that will appeal to all people. I know, that was profound wasn’t it? But, it’s true. I see so many galleries where the photographer specializes in one type of landscape. It may be beach scenes. It may be mountain scenes. Or, it may be farm scenes. Beautiful as they may be, people are different. And with those differences comes an array of likes and dislikes with regard to landscapes. To me, the most important aspect of landscape photography is to be captivated by a certain element! Then surround that element with a canvas of landscape! And most importantly, refuse to be defined by a specific landscape trend!
The element that caught my eye in these photographs was the vibrant color of the village shops! I thought the colors were captivating. So, that became my focal element. Once the colors had made their impression, similar to an artist with a blank canvas my creativity takes over to paint the landscape. The dappled sky, the sailboats in the foreground, the Queen Mary in the distance, the reflections – for me, all of these elements are secondary to the color!
Landscapes require certain elements for interest. Those elements should never be minimized because even the most interesting subject requires a supporting cast. So, don’t become so captivated that you forget to place something of interest in the foreground. And, don’t forget to consider the lighting of the sky. And certainly don’t forget to experiment with different perspectives.
Remember, every landscape is a depiction of what you see. You must look carefully so as not to miss even the slightest detail.