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?

Shoreline Village – Long Beach, California

Shoreline Village – Longbeach, California

Shoreline Village – Long Beach, California

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.

Happy Shooting!!

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~ by photographyfree4all on December 6, 2010.

20 Responses to “SHOOTING LANDSCAPES – Photography Tip #14”

  1. Thank you for sharing. The second photo has wonderful colours.

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  2. I really like the one with the line of sailboats. I considered going to my local marina earlier this year to take a similar photo, but with a different angle and view point, but never got the chance. I like you’re take on it though!

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  3. Good tips. The color of the shops appeals to me in these photos. It makes me want to know more about the place the picture was taken.

    One thing I always forget is the ISO. I don’t know what it is. I get focused on shutter speed an F stop and forget about it. Thanks for the reminder!

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  4. Thank you, Nigel! It’s the colors for me! And, this is the shot that best depicts the colors! Thanks for sharing this comment.

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  5. Oh I wish you could have done that, Kuukisu! I think they make great photographs! I would have loved to have seen what you would have done! I love to see what other photographers create! Thanks for another great comment! I always look forward to them.

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  6. Great shots! Love the colors and the reflections in the water. Thanks for the advice too.

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  7. Thank you, Jolene! The shops are pretty amazing, I think! One of my favorites is a hat shop with any and every kind of hat one could ever imagine! I’m a hat person, myself. Not a ball cap! No, no – I’m talking hats! Some are tiny art galleries and others are bistro cafes. It’s really a great place to go! Yesterday, I shot the first few shots at ISO 1600 because the night before I was shooting in low light! 🙂 Thanks for another great comment, Jolene!

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  8. Is that the QM in the first shot (off in the distance)? Personally, I like the last shot as (to me) the boats don’t overpower the shot, you have the great reflections going on and yet, you still have the colourful buildings! Mind you, the subtle inclusion of the QM does get some marks…unless it’s just some cruise ship! 😛

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  9. Good eye, David! That is indeed the Queen Mary in the first shot! I agree with you on the sailboats and their somewhat overpowering appearance. The problem I faced was getting the shot of the village in a way that somehow displayed the color of the shops. Every perspective contained the sailboats. It’s a toss-up between the first and the third shot, though. In the first you have a more interesting sky and the QM in the distance. But in the third shot, the ships seem to be in a better position for the entire composition. Thanks for checking in with another great comment, David! I really appreciate your expertise.

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  10. Thanks, KKH! To me, almost any reflection adds interest to your composition. And, the colors are so vivid here. thanks for sharing this comment! I always appreciate your comments.

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  11. First, I love your water landscapes and the boat. Second, I would not have classified these as being a landscape. You mentioned “…every landscape is a depiction of what you see.” How true that is, I will view my landscape around me in a new light instead of just the mountains in the distance, for example.

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  12. You make an interesting point, Martine. Are these landscapes? I really don’t know. But, I’m asking people to weigh in with their ideas in my post today. I hope you don’t mind that I’m making a reference to your comment here. Thanks for sharing this and causing me to wonder. Great comment!

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  13. I really appreciate you taking the time to shed light on these things. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, and I know I will have to return and print this up when I’m ready to take a serious look at landscape photography. But, it also makes sense to consider some of these things for every other type of photography. Time of day, lighting, appeal–I guess are very important.

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  14. Thank you for sharing your comment here, Heather. I know you don’t do a lot of landscape, but you’re absolutely right about the principles here. They transfer into many different genres of photography! So glad you stopped by today!

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  15. I really like the slightly distorted repeating lines on the reflected masts in the last image.

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  16. I meant to comment on this earlier but didn’t have time: Excellent shots, and very interesting post! What you say about lighting is so true! It’s one of those things that means that no two shots can be identical. I love the last shot in particular with the ripples in the water and that lovely warm light!
    I have to say that although I definitely agree about making your photos appeal to people, I think it’s above all important for them to appeal to you, the photographer! Imo, that’s what makes your photos what they are, gives them their personal stamp. Don’t get me wrong, this is just my opinion and I can obviously see that you shoot what personally appeals to you, and compose it with your own personal approach. I just tend to find that I’m more pleased with a photo that I like and nobody else seems to find very interesting, than with a photo that I don’t like and everybody else does!
    Again, this is just my opinion, please don’t think I’m criticizing :)!
    Again, excellent shots, great job!

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  17. I love your new header by the way ;)!

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  18. I have come to believe the last shot in that post is the best – even though I like the sky better in the first one. The composition is better in the last. Thanks for stopping by and sharing this comment, Journey! I really appreciate it.

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  19. This is another great comment, Kai! Believe me, I certainly wouldn’t take anything you say to be critical. I welcome everyone’s ideas, opinions, and expertise – even when they are different from my own. I totally agree with what you’re saying here. I think I was going on the assumption that you would be shooting what you wanted to shoot! That’s why it really doesn’t matter what other people may think. What I’m saying is more to the point of categorically cornering yourself resulting in a very limited appeal. If you love to shoot landscapes, why limit yourself to beach landscapes only? That’s what I’m saying by expanding your audience receptiveness by expanding your landscapes categories. Does that make sense?

    No, you better shoot what you enjoy shooting or you won’t last very long! That’s a great point, kai!

    Thank you for sharing this perspective and contributing such an insightful comment! Great job!

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  20. Thanks! Just shaking it up a bit, Kai!

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