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Landscape Photography Techniques

Landscape Photography Techniques - ePHOTOzine member Jim Hellier shares his landscape photography advice.

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Digital Cameras

Article by Jim Hellier.

Landscape taken at f/16

The first thing is planning. Most successful landscape shots take time. Once I have decided where I am going I make sure to look around the area; I use Google Earth as a starting place as it gives me an idea of where I am going to park my car and how far it is to the location. This gives me a reasonable idea of where I am going to take my shot from. Walking is good but not more than I have to, especially if I am carrying heavy gear. I do like to do a recce before I go armed with my cameras. I look at different viewpoints and different angles; I am also looking for foreground, middle ground and distant interest in my picture. I don’t shoot everything from eye level, getting down low can help with foreground interest; I also decide if I want it to be a morning shot or an evening shot. I always carry a compass, so I know where the sun will be rising and setting.

If I am planning a coastal shot, I ask when is the best time to take the shot; high tide, low tide or somewhere in between? The Easy Tide website is worth saving, by using the tide tables you can work out the best time to take your picture. It also provides a safety tip too; you don’t want to get cut off by the rising tide. As you can see there is quite a lot of work to do before I take my camera out of the bag, all this planning also helps me visualize my picture before I take it.

Most of my landscape work is done with a short zoom 17-70mm, this helps with composition and framing the shot.

The second thing in landscape photography I use is depth of field. I find this is one of the most important things to understand. Depth of field can be explained as being what appears to be in focus in pictures. Depth of field is controlled by the cameras aperture; the aperture can be found on the digital cameras LCD screen. The aperture number has an f in front of it (i.e. f/11 or f/16) most reasonable quality zoom lenses start with an aperture of f/2.8 and go up to about f/32. The f stands for focal range. I personally use f/16 or f/22 when taking my landscape pictures, this give me the depth of field that I require.

Take a look at the examples below that illustrate this:

DOF f/2.8, gives a shallow depth of field
100% crop when taken at f/2.8
The above image was taken with the aperture set to f/2.8 and as you can see from the 100% crop, the image isn't sharp.

Taken with an aperture of f/16
100% crop of image taken with an aperture of f/16.
The above shot was taken with an aperture of f/16 and is much sharper.

Taken at f/22
100% crop of image taken at f/22.
This was taken with an aperture of f/22 and is sharper than the f/2.8 image but not quite as sharp as the one taken at f/16.

Article by Jim Hellier.

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