I often get asked if I have any tips for capturing a great landscape shot. To be honest a lot of it is common sense, thrown in with some decent gear, luck and good light.
I post a lot of shots I am happy with on my online social media platforms but what people don’t see is the many failed shots that are lying dormant on my hard drive computer. Its amazing how shifting a frame a few feet left or right, or the light changing from one second to the next can completely alter how a photograph looks.
Here are some helpful tips I would always recommend for photographers who are looking to capture a good scene.
- Use a tripod. I say this for a few reasons. The first is that it makes the shots sharper, the second being that is slows the process down allowing you to think about the frame of your shot and what you are trying to capture. The other beauty of a tripod is that it allows the user to add filters to the lens and also use a remote shutter release. The tripod I use is a Vanguard ALTA PRO 283CT along with the amazing BBH-300. The alto pro is a carbon fibre tripod which is great when doing landscape as it means Im not carting around heavy gear. Its also super sturdy and along with the BBH-300 ball head it meets all of my needs.
2. Use graduated filters. I currently use a formatt hitech 0.9 firecrest filter. This is great for controlling the exposure of the sky. It allows for a more balanced exposure overall and is a must for any photographers kitbag. There are many brands and gradients of filters out there. They are definitely worth trying. I went with this brand after reading the reviews and they have certainly not disappointed. Be careful to clean the filter regularly as dust and fingerprints can affect the shot (I have found out the hard way)
3. Shoot in good light. Of course a good photograph can be taken in a variety of conditions and light but if you are wanting a colourful sunrise or sunset (which I enjoy the most) then good light and dramatic clouds are essential. I always shoot in the first hour of sunrise or the last hour of light at sunset. This is when I have the best chance of witnessing some great colours bouncing off the clouds. The name given to this period is the golden hour.
4. Leading lines A leading line is something that captures the viewers attention and leads them into the picture. This could be to focus on a particular subject matter. (in my case that is often the sun). Here is an example of a leading line. The water stream in the middle of the buildings is a great leading line to follow which eventually takes the viewers eye to the tower bridge and the sunrise sky.
5. Rule of thirds Most of the great landscape shots out there use the rule of thirds as a good way to base the composition of a shot. It basically means that the Sky or land should portion at least 2/3s of the shot. It it ok to deviate away from this and if you feel a shot benefits from more of a 50/50 ratio then go for it!
6. Experiment A great way to create a different feel to your photographs is to experiment. This could be with the angles, settings or using filters. I love using ND filters to create a different atmosphere to the photo. for example my HOYA ND1000 allows me to expose for longer by limiting the light coming into my lens. This is great for blurring movement of clouds, silking out the water or for eliminating moving objects from a scene.
7. Use a wide angle lens This is not essential for capturing landscapes but in my few years of doing photography my wide angle lens pretty much never leaves my camera. For capturing those sharp shots i use my Tokina 16-28. The lens is super sturdy and really captures the detail of a scene. Alternatively when I am using my filters I switch to my canon 16-35 f4. This allows me to add my graduated filters and ND filters.