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Taking Landscape Photographs with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi/450D

Your Canon EOS Digital Rebel can take beautiful landscape photography. Taking the perfect landscape photograph is, in part, subjective. Take depth of field, for example: You can choose to have all elements sharply focused, or a single foreground element with a softer background. With a few digital photography tips, however, you’ll know enough to experiment with the details until you can create landscapes that take your breath away.

  • Shoot in aperture-priority autoexposure mode (Av) so that you can control depth of field. If you want extreme depth of field, so that both near and distant objects are sharply focused, select a high f-stop value or use Landscape mode (on the Mode dial). For short depth of field, use a low value.

    If the light is dim, the camera may be forced to open the aperture in Landscape mode, reducing depth of field, to properly expose the image.

  • If the exposure requires a slow shutter (as with high f-stops), use a tripod or solid surface to avoid blurring. If the shutter speed drops below what you can comfortably hand-hold, use a tripod to avoid picture-blurring camera shake. Alternatively, you can always increase the ISO setting to increase light sensitivity, which in turns allows a faster shutter speed, too, but that option brings with it the chances of increased image noise.

  • For dramatic waterfall shots, consider using a slower shutter to create that “misty” look. The slow shutter blurs the water, giving it a soft, romantic appearance. Again, use a tripod to ensure that the rest of the scene doesn’t also blur due to camera shake.

  • At sunrise or sunset, base exposure on the sky. The foreground will be dark, but you can usually brighten it in a photo editor if needed. If you base exposure on the foreground, on the other hand, the sky will become so bright that all the color will be washed out — a problem you usually can’t fix after the fact.

    In the advanced exposure modes, you also can experiment with enabling the Highlight Tone Priority option, which you do via Custom Function 5, on Setup Menu 3. This feature can help you retain some additional shadow detail without blowing out highlights.

  • For cool nighttime city pics, experiment with slow shutter. Assuming that cars or other vehicles are moving through the scene, the result is neon trails of light.

    Instead of changing the shutter speed manually between each shot, try setting the speed to Bulb. Available only in M (manual) exposure mode, this option records an image for as long as you hold down the shutter button. So just take a series of images, holding the button down for different lengths of time for each shot. In Bulb mode, you also can exceed the minimum (slowest) shutter speed of 30 seconds. Note that in Bulb mode, the camera displays the elapsed capture time on the monitor.

  • For the best lighting, shoot during the “magic hours.” That’s the term photographers use for early morning and late afternoon, when the light cast by the sun is soft and warm, giving everything that beautiful, gently warmed look.

  • In tricky light, bracket exposures. Bracketing simply means to take the same picture at several different exposures to increase the odds that at least one of them will capture the scene the way you envision. Bracketing is especially a good idea in difficult lighting situations such as sunrise and sunset.

    Your camera offers automatic exposure bracketing when you shoot in the advanced exposure modes.

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