You’re driving down the road when suddenly a breathtaking scene is upon you. You hurriedly pull over feeling it’s your lucky day since your camera happens to be in the back seat. You excitedly photograph the scene thinking how great it will be to capture this beauty to share with others. Then you push play to look at your image. You feel let down. Why doesn’t the image on your screen compare to real life?
Does this sound familiar?
Here are some tips to help you awe and amaze your friends with your awesome and amazing landscape shots:
- Always shoot landscapes around sunset or sunrise. The “Golden Hour” is a strict rule when it comes to landscapes (unless you want flat, lifeless, snapshots). The way the sun hits just before and after sunrise and sunset gives dimension, depth, and contrast to landscapes.
- Always use a tripod. With the low light you’ll be shooting in (sunrise or sunset), the narrow aperture you’ll likely want for depth-of-field, and the low ISO you’ll want (who wants a noisy landscape?), you’ll need a slow shutter speed. Unless you have the ability to turn in to a statue as you hit the shutter release, you’ll want a tripod.
- For landscape pictures, focus one-third of the way into the image and use a high aperture, such as f/22 for a great depth-of-field.
- Put the horizon in the top or bottom third of your image – NOT in the middle. Decide which is more interesting: the sky or the ground. If it’s the sky, then put the horizon in the bottom third. If the ground is more visually appealing than put the horizon in the top third.
- Make sure you have a foreground, middle ground, and background. If you’re taking a picture of the ocean at sunset you could have the beach in the foreground, the water in the middle, and the sunset in the background. If you don’t do this, your shot won’t pack as much punch as it could.
- Change your perspective. Rather than just shooting from the first spot you approach, consider if there is a more interesting view. Walk around a bit.
- Even though it’s a landscape picture, it should still have a subject. You should be able to fill in the blank: “This is a picture of ______.” If you can’t find an identifiable subject, recompose.
- It’s really hard to meter a sunset picture correctly. When taking a sunset picture, aim your camera so the viewfinder is filled with the scene just above the sun and meter for that area.
- Turn on your camera’s highlight alert feature to make sure you don’t blow any clouds or water.
- Use a polarizing filter. It adds richer colors to your image (particularly blues) and it does an awesome job cutting the reflection off the water or other reflective surfaces.