How to Capture Scenic Vistas with the Canon Rebel T5/1200D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

Providing specific camera settings for landscape photography using the Canon Rebel T5/1200D is tricky because there’s no single best approach to capturing a beautiful stretch of countryside, a city skyline, or another vast subject.

Depth of field is an example: One person’s idea of a super cityscape might be to keep all buildings in the scene sharply focused. Another photographer might prefer to shoot the same scene so that a foreground building is sharply focused while the others are less so, thus drawing the eye to that first building.

Here are a few tips to help you photograph a landscape the way you see it:

  • 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, as shown in the figure below. Select a high f-stop value. An aperture of f/22 worked for this shot.

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  • If the exposure requires a slow shutter, use a tripod to avoid blurring. The downside to a high f-stop is that you need a slower shutter speed to produce a good exposure. If the shutter speed is slower than you can comfortably handhold, use a tripod to avoid picture-blurring camera shake.

  • No tripod handy? Look for any solid surface on which to steady the camera. Using a remote-control to trigger the shutter release can also help avoid camera shake caused by the mere motion of pressing the shutter button.

    You can always increase the ISO setting to increase light sensitivity, which in turn allows a faster shutter speed, too, but that option brings with it the chance of increased image noise. Also enable Image Stabilization, if your lens offers it; this feature can help you take sharper handheld shots at slow shutter speeds.

  • For dramatic waterfall and fountain shots, consider using a slow shutter to create that “misty” look. The slow shutter blurs the water, giving it a soft, romantic appearance, as shown in the figure below. Shutter speed for this shot was 1/15 second. Again, use a tripod to ensure that camera shake doesn’t blur the rest of the scene.

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    In bright light, using a slow shutter speed may overexpose the image even if you stop the aperture all the way down and select the camera’s lowest ISO setting. As a solution, consider investing in a neutral-density filter for your lens.

    This type of filter works something like sunglasses for your camera: It simply reduces the amount of light that passes through the lens, without affecting image colors, so that you can use a slower shutter than would otherwise be possible.

  • 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 easily fix after the fact.

    You can also invest in a graduated neutral-density filter, which is a filter that’s dark on top and clear on the bottom. You orient the filter so that the dark half falls over the sky and the clear side over the dimly lit portion of the scene. This setup enables you to better expose the foreground without blowing out the sky colors.

    Enabling Highlight Tone Priority can also improve your results, so take some test shots using that option, too.

  • For cool nighttime city pics, experiment with a slow shutter. Assuming that cars or other vehicles are moving through the scene, the result is neon trails of light, like those you see in the figure below. Shutter speed for this image was 10 seconds. The longer your shutter speed, the blurrier the motion trails.

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