5 Tips for Shooting Landscapes with Your Digital SLR
Photographing landscapes with your dSLR is different: You have to go where they are. You can’t set one on a table in your studio or meet one at a local park. You have to find a means of transportation and travel.
The other fact is that you’ll be dealing with the weather and sunlight at hand. You have no control over either, but you can choose one day or time over another. Aside from suggesting you routinely make trips to shoot during the golden hour, mix it up. Clouds make skies look great, but aren’t absolutely necessary. At times, you can frame landscapes without even seeing the sky.
Photographs of landscapes, usually require a tripod and an aperture setting of f/8. This ensures the depth of field will be large, which is what you want for most (but not all) landscapes. If you want to experiment with filters, landscapes are a natural subject.
Capture a sunset in HDR.
Using a tripod will help you align exposure-bracketed photos for HDR.
This is a classic sunset over the river during the evening golden hour using HDR photo. This shot was set up the tripod and the camera was positioned to look toward the farthest part of the river, not the setting sun.
Although it isn’t impossible to include the sun in your shots, do so with care. Pointing your camera at the sun and focusing on it can damage the sensor.
This gives the photo an incredible depth. The setting sun (and the fact that HDR often enables you to push saturation, which is another way of saying color intensity, a bit) created the colors.
The camera settings are standard-issue landscape. Most times when you shoot a landscape, you want a large depth of field (area of focus) and no noise. If you use a tripod, shutter speed isn’t an issue.
Settings: f/8, 1/40 second, ISO 100, 10mm focal length. APS-C.
Focus on a tree.
This shot is the result of driving to another location to take photos and noticing something interesting along the way.
This landscape was shot like you would shoot a portrait, which is how you get the blurred background. See? Rules are meant to be broken.
Settings: f/2.8, 1/1250 second, ISO 100, 40mm focal length. APS-C.
Get in the riverbed.
Sometimes you get crazy ideas. Quite often, you should act on them. Take a look at this photo. First, this shot was taken from inside the riverbed. Second, it was taken with a tilt-shift lens.
Settings: f/2.8, 1/1600 second, ISO 100, 80mm focal length. APS-C.
Go out in the fog.
The bridge shown in this photo is one that many have driven past on a daily basis for years. It usually looks best in the morning sunshine, but on this occasion, it was foggy. This shot was taken with a Holga lens of all things (decidedly low tech).
Settings: f/8 (listed; actual is less), 1/60 second, ISO 6400, 60mm focal length. APS-C.
Combine different elements.
This photo looks out over Lake St. Claire, which is just to the northeast of Detroit. It’s a great shot of the lake, but what makes the lake work are the tree, the greenery to the left, and the few puffy white clouds. Isn’t that odd?
When you can combine different elements, they can strengthen each other. The tree looks lonely as it tilts towards the lake. If you look close enough, you can see the boats on the water.
The lens choice was critical for this scene. At 10mm, that’s ultra wide-angle territory.
Settings: f/8, 1/320 second, ISO 100, 10mm focal length. APS-C.