Landscapes are a popular photographic subject as the subject matter is easily accessible and it's also enjoyable to get outdoors (unless it's raining of course!). However, it can be a little tricky to master but with a little practice and a few helpful tips your landscape work will be improved in no-time.
Photo by Peter Bargh.
90 second exposure using the Lee Filters Big Stopper and the Olympus OM-D in LIVETIME mode.
When you stand and look at a scene you may think it looks amazing but capturing this feeling in a two-dimensional shot can be tricky. However, one of the easiest ways to convey a three-dimensional feeling is to include foreground, middle and background interest. This will create depth in the image and also give the eye something to follow through the length of the shot.
If you often shoot images with the White Balance setting on Auto have a look around your Olympus camera
for the white balance controls and see how the other settings change the look of your landscape shot. Other white balance settings include Cloudy which can give shots a little more warmth and Tungsten which will add blue tones so landscapes appear cooler, perfect for emphasising a cool feeling in shots taken on colder days.
Check The Weather
Avoid grey, overcast days as your shots won't have any interest in the sky and the landscape will lack texture. A bright, blue sky in the middle of the day isn't really ideal either but a little cloud cover will create shadows that break up the flat light.
A good time to head out is at the start or end of the day when light has more warmth to it. These times are known as the 'golden hours' but at this time of year you have to get up rather early if you want to capture this warmer light before you start work. During winter the golden hours are later on, at a more reasonable time of the day but there is a higher chance that the weather won't be playing ball.
Shoot All Year
Rapeseed fields are springing up across the country at the moment and now is a good time to shoot them, as many fields still have a mix of green and yellow hues. As rapeseed tends to be often at waist height a camera where the monitor tilts, such as the PEN Lite E-PL5, will save you having to bend or kneel down. Take advantage of LiveView too so you can stay stood up.
Later in the year the picture-perfect Autumn colours decorate the landscape and when we come back around to Spring, the land bursts with shades of green. If you want to add some 'pop' to your shots try using one of the Art Filters found on Olympus cameras or pop a filter on your DLSR.
Landscapes don't always have to be shot in the landscape orientation. In fact you may find your shot has more impact by simply switching the position of your camera.
If a field of crops or flowers is your focus get down low to give the foreground more prominence in the frame. Then, with a small aperture and slower shutter speed, capture the entire field.
Another technique to try when near a rapeseed field or at a tree line is a drag landscape. This technique blurs scenes into blocks / lines of colour and it's achieved by you moving the camera in one direction during a longer exposure. Switching to shutter-priority mode will make this easier as you can just concentrate on picking a shutter speed rather than worrying about apertures, ISO etc. too.
As well as dragging the camera why not have a go at a zoom burst where you twist your zoom lens during the exposure to create a shot that has a more abstract feel. They're also good for creating a sense of pace in action shots.
Cloud formations are another way to add another level of interest to an image. You just need to make sure you're ready to shoot as soon as you see a formation you want to capture as the shapes will change quickly. Keep an eye on your histogram to ensure the clouds aren't appearing too bright and try using slower shutter speeds to streak the cloud's movement into long lines.
Horizons need to be straight as if they're not, it's very obvious and can spoil what would be a great shot. Also, it's important that the horizon doesn't run through the middle of your shot as it tends to look boring. However, there are times when this does work so don't dismiss it completely but generally, if the sky is the most interesting part of your shot, move the horizon's position down and do the opposite if the land is your focus.
Again, a camera with a tilting screen makes shooting landscapes with higher horizons easier as even if you extend your tripod above head-height, you'll still be able to preview the shot.