Photo Feature: Landscapes
The next in my Photo Feature series is a popular subject for photographers… Landscapes. We all enjoy taking photos of beautiful views and here are some of my favourites, along with a few points to consider when photographing landscapes…
The most important element when shooting landscape is composition. So take some time to get it right. Think about what’s important in the shot: which angle should you shoot from, do you want to add any foreground interest, what’s the focal point in the shot… there are lots of elements to consider.
The image below, taken this summer, is effective because of the reflections of the sky in the lake. Look for something to add interest to your landscape shots, whether that is a rock formation, a building, reflections, etc.
Depth of Field
The main thing to remember when shooting landscapes is that you want a large depth of field so that everything in the photo is in focus. To achieve this you need to set a small aperture (called an f-stop). Just remember: small aperture = large depth of field. However, a small aperture = a larger number in terms of f-stops so, for example, f2.8 will give less depth of field and f22 will give more depth of field. So for landscapes you want a bigger number, such as f16. Just remember though that because you are using a small aperture there will be less light hitting the camera sensor so you may have to compensate for this by increasing your ISO or using a slower shutter speed (or maybe both).
You can take landscape shots in all different locations – mountains, coastlines, forests, deserts, and even urban landscapes – but my favourite places are out in the countryside… and one of my very favourite photography locations is the Peak District, near to where I was born in Sheffield.
The rocks in the foreground add interest to this shot looking over towards Hope from Stanage Edge, a favourite haunt of climbers. Unfortunately the light wasn’t good the day I took this shot so it could have been better…
But you can also get great landscape images by the coast, such as this one which I took on the beach in Weymouth (UK) earlier this year. The light on that day was great, but in the UK that often doesn’t happen… and if you are only somewhere for a day or two you have to work with the light conditions you have. As the beach was the least important part (in my opinion) of the shot, that only takes up the bottom third of this image (see below re. rule of thirds).
Rule of Thirds
The two photos above, use the photographer’s ‘rule of thirds’. Basically, you divide your shot into 3 sections horizontally… the most important part of the shot will take up 2/3rds of the photograph. In this case, the sky in the first image and the beach in the second were not the main focal points in the shots so they only make up the top third (sky) and bottom third (beach), whilst the foreground/view and sea/sky make up the remaining 2/3rds respectively. But this is one rule that you shouldn’t worry about breaking every now and then…
A common photographic technique when taking landscape shots is the use of leading lines – lines of some kind which draw your eye right into the photograph… such as the path in the photo below which leads you into the photo, giving the image a feeling of depth. You can use paths, rails, streets, buildings, etc – any kind of lines which lead your eye into the image can work… although there should be something in the background to stop your eye following right through the image and out the other side – in this case it’s trees and shrubs.
Generally, landscape photos are taken landscape, but on this occasion, I felt this one worked better this way round…
Black and White
And what about trying some black and white? Black and white landscapes work well where you have plenty of contrast… don’t try and convert one that doesn’t have that as it will just look a bit flat. The photo below works because of the foreground interest of the wall, people and the boats.
Using a tripod is useful for landscape photography as it gives the camera stability when you are shooting using longer shutter speeds. It also means you can attach a spirit level to the camera to make sure your horizon is level (although this can be edited afterwards if necessary).
But my best advice would be to take your time when taking your landscape shot – don’t rush it… find the best angle, the best light (if possible), and a focal point that adds interest to the image. Obviously you can spend lots of time editing your images when you get home but no amount of tinkering in Photoshop or the like will make an average shot into a great one…
Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to get out there and shoot some stunning landscapes (and there are plenty of them around)!
What sort of photography do you prefer (either to photograph or to look at)? Let me know below…
*I shot all the photos above on either an iPhone 6, a Canon EOS 40D or a Canon Powershot SX 60 HS.