How to Take Landscape Photographs with a Nikon D90 - dummies

How to Take Landscape Photographs with a Nikon D90

By Julie Adair King

Beautiful landscape photography is not solely the realm of fine artists and professionals. Whether you are a new photographer or have years of experience, landscapes are beautiful. 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 (A) 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. For short depth of field, use a low value.

    In Landscape mode, you have no control over the exact value (or certain other picture-taking settings). And in dim lighting, the camera may be forced to select a low f-stop setting.

  • 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 Sensitivity setting to allow a faster shutter, too, but that option brings with it the chances of increased image noise.

  • For dramatic waterfall shots, consider using a slow 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.

        In very bright light, you may overexpose the image at a very slow shutter, 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.

  • 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.

    Also experiment with different levels of Active D-Lighting adjustment. You can adjust the setting only in the P, S, A, and M exposure modes, however.

    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 bulb mode. 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 standard maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds.

  • 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.

    In P, S, A, and M modes, you can take advantage of automatic bracketing. Unfortunately, you really can’t bracket exposures in the fully automatic exposure modes because you have no way to adjust exposure in those modes.