Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Landscape photography for novices

"living life on the edge"

Landscape photography is a thing that at any one time in our lives, most of us will attempt. Whether its a job or just a memory for the holiday snap collection. If you are serious about it like myself, you will already know it's not as easy as it looks: early starts, patient planning and bad weather are just a few of the important things that go into the making of a good landscape shot.
What I'm going to explain here are a few pointers or tips for the 'holiday snapper' that might save you time and or help you get a better photo at the end of the day (or indeed the start).
  • Firstly you need a camera - well that's pretty obvious - what is also important is that you will need a tripod and make sure the lens is a wide angle. Even non-professional camera's are available in wide angle versions now and for my money they are more useful than one with a zoom lens.
  • Find your subject! If you are on holiday this is usually done by accident but finding good spots can be more methodical - ie do a picture search on Google for the place you are visiting, you will soon see some great pictures of interesting locations.
  • What time? It's easy to find sunrise and sunset times on the internet - these are usually the best time of day to take photos - but beware, the light is low and therefore it is easy to 'blur' a photo by moving the camera - hence bringing a tripod!
  • Tripod's come in very small and lightweight versions these days and will keep your image still without blurring it. I also recommend you use your timer setting rather than hitting the shutter button with your finger.
  • Image size? Yes this is important and the reason why is printing.. let me explain: most people prefer to reduce their image size on the camera as it gives them the ability to take more photos.. this is true BUT... What happens when you blow these photos up to put them on the wall?.. Answer: they go digitally grainy or pixalated. Use the largest size available to your camera and if the memory card is not big enough for you buy a second or even third one - they are not expensive.
  • Composition.. the most important part of any photograph. Landscapes are the toughest images to compose! Start with your scene - try and get 3 items in the frame - something close up, in the middle and then on the horizon.. Close up you could use a fence, wall, tree (as above) or even a person - the close subject should be quite large in the frame! Mid subjects are like bushes, groups of trees or cattle or the canyon ridges (as above). Distant subjects could be a good skyline, setting or rising sun or even a mountain range (as above).. At least 2 of these need to be present as it gives the image more depth - if you don't it will look 'flat' and un-interesting.
  • Move.. try and move up and down or left and right to get a different perspective on your shot. take a few images and you can choose the best one when you view them on your computer at home.
  • Wait! Hold it, don't click the shutter just yet! Wait for the sun to come round! If it's a sunny day but cloudy, just waiting a few minutes can make the difference to a great shot.. Also, waiting for people to move or cattle to get closer etc.. all these little things can make a big difference if you just slow down and wait.
  • Sun Flare? Eh? Flare is when the sun hits the lens and the light is displayed as tiny hexagonal colours in a line across the image.. Try to get the sun behind you unless you are taking a photo of the sunrise or sunset. IF you can't get the sun behind you, try and get it out of the frame completely (as i did above) - it can ruin a good shot.
  • Straighten up! Making sure you have got a straight horizon is imperative when taking landscape photos!.. Use that tripod and the 'grid' on your camera to line up the horizon and get it dead straight - again slightly time consuming but it's well worth the effort.
  • Up early! Well yes if you are that eager then away you go but do remember that you will be in the dark so know the area WELL before going out especially in coastal locations. Sunset shots can be just as exciting and you don't have to get up at 4am ;)
Hopefully these tips will help you take better shots while out hiking or on holiday. They are aimed at a novice photographer and next time I blog about the subject I'll be covering the ground for the more serious people :)


1 comment:

  1. Great tips Ray. I like the one about three things in the shot, foreground, midground and background. I always seem to forget that one!