What is landscape photography?
Landscape photography allows you to capture the majesty and grandeur of nature. It is a form of art that depicts the beauty of our world. It is that kind of photography where you can explore, take your time, find peace and observe the nature around you, feel the emotions that it conveys and have new experiences to translate as unique creations.
Snowy peaks, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, beaches, deserts, and endless fields. The choices are endless and you will find your path, you can be attracted to rural or urban areas. You might prefer cityscapes and skyscrapers or seaports, parks.
To practice landscaping photography, keep in mind that any type of camera, even the most professional, has a much lower yield than the human eye. That is why it’s difficult, especially for beginners, to reproduce what’s in front of you. But do not get discouraged by the first difficulties, there are technical and compositional strategies that will help you capture incredible landscape photos.
To achieve amazing results in landscape photography, you need to understand different aspects of this art. First and foremost you need to know what the necessary equipment is. Also, you need to have guidelines and in-camera settings to create good photos. Remember though, after you’ve learned and studied the theory, you can only master it by practicing.
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Camera Equipment and Gear:
You will find a vast offer of camera equipment and gear. The choices you’ll make will most likely be determined by various factors such as your level of expertise, your needs in terms of functionality, price and the style you prefer.
Camera. The partner in your adventures.
The size of the sensor is the element that affects the performance of a digital camera the most.
As the size of the sensor increases, the cost of the camera increases. Remember though, larger sensors allow a wider dynamic range producing cleaner and less noise photographs than cameras with smaller sensors. Sensors are divided into three main formats:
Full-frame: the largest sensor (36x24mm)
APS-C: about 30% smaller (24x16mm)
Micro 4/3: the smallest with about half the size of a full-frame (17.3x13mm)
The first question you might ask is: “is it better to choose a Reflex or a Mirrorless”?
So let’s take a look at the major differences.
For a long time Reflex or DSLR were considered the type of camera intended for professional use or for amateur photographers who wanted to take high quality photos. Nowadays the situation is very different because of the strong technological innovation of Mirrorless cameras.
Mirrorless do not have the complex and quality lens system that DSLR cameras have. However, they are generally smaller, lighter and easier to use.
The main advantage of DSLRs is image quality
Reduced size and weight are the main advantages of mirrorless.
The high prices, the heaviness and bulk are the main disadvantages of DSLR’s.
Both Mirrorless and DSLRs allow you to change lenses and in some cases the lens is much more important than the camera itself. The choice of the lens is fundamental for the type of photography you want to practice, so if you have a good camera with a lens that is not suitable for landscape photography it may not produce appreciable results.
Lenses for Landscape Photography.
It’s recommendable for this kind of photography to have a variety of lenses in your arsenal as one lens is not the solution for all the situations that you will be facing while enjoying your landscaping photography excursions. There are some features that you need to look for when buying a landscaping photography lens. Aperture size is important. This controls the amount of light and the depth of the field, and focal length.
The first lens to have necessarily could be an 18-55 mm or an all-rounder like the 18-105 mm.
The wide angle is the most desired desired by landscape photographers. These lenses have a focal lengths below 24 ~ 28 mm that allow you to include a large area of the visual field in a single shot. One of the most appreciated features of landscape photography is the sense of space and openness that can be transmitted thanks to one’s own photographs and a wide-angle lens allows you to achieve precisely this result.
In addition to a superzoom, which covers in part or all the focal lengths of a telephoto lens, having a lens dedicated to lengths from 70 mm upwards offers new photo opportunities. A good choice is a 70-200 mm f2.8, possibly stabilized. Don’t save on stabilization, you will avoid many blurry photos.
To shoot in low light situations you may need a bright lens. That is a lens that has a large maximum aperture (below f2.8), as it is able to capture more light.
There is no landscape photography without a tripod. Not only it allows you to stabilize your camera it forces you to study your chosen landscape carefully. You will be shooting at dawns at sunset, you may want to create awesome long-exposure effects, like silky water, you need to have a tripod in order to do all that. It may seem old-fashioned or bulky and cumbersome, it doesn’t matter. You need to have a good quality tripod for your landscape photography.
When choosing one, consider these basic functionalities: weight, reliability, movement, grip, and stability. Buy the best you can afford and you won’t regret it.
Exposure times may easily exceed one second and in these conditions only a tripod can offer you the necessary stability to guarantee a perfectly clear picture.
The shutter release allows you to take a photo without touching your camera, it helps to reduce camera shake. You can get it in two different formats a cable or an electronic wireless remote. The cable is a very accessible accessory that can help you.
Filters help you take better photos by allowing you to alter the available light. Light is key. Remember that to photograph is to paint with light.
Some filters are particularly useful for landscape photos. Let’s take a look at them.
Polarizing filters to reduce or eliminate unwanted reflections.
Neutral density (ND) filters to reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor without altering the look of the image. ND filters are particularly useful when you want to take a long exposure in bright light conditions or when you want to shoot at maximum aperture for example.
Graduated ND filters. These have a lighter and a darker area. These filters are widely used in landscape photography because they compensate for the contrast that may exist between the foreground and the background. If you calculate the exposure on a dark foreground you could risk reducing the brightness of the sky, while if you expose based on the bright sky the foreground may turn out to be too dark. By covering the bright sky with the dark part of the filter you can reduce the contrast of the scene and get an optimal result.
Colored graduated filters can be used to add a warmer or a cooler hue to the sky.
There are definitely some other essential items to consider such as memory cards (at least two), camera bag or a good quality backpack, torches, extra batteries, first aid kit, light sticks.
Images that are raw have much more information for you to play with afterwards that’s why it is the quality option preferred by professional landscape photographers. Raw lets you produce high-quality pictures, it gives you correct exposure, the ability to play with the image in post-production. It allows you to change white balance and has more colors. However, RAW has a bigger file size than your normal JPG and also is necessary to use special software for the postproduction or editing of photos.
The histogram is the distribution of the color tones of the image. In other words, is a graph of old exposure values in a scene. For a landscape photographer histogram is a guide to judge your camera settings and if you need to adjust them or not when photographing. It is always a good idea to check it out if you don’t like the results.
Have you ever asked yourself why does the picture that you took has different colors from the ones that you are seeing at that moment? It is because of the white balance, take this idea, if the camera reads the white color correctly it will see the rest of the colors correctly as well. A basic understanding of white balance setting will help you to achieve better results.
Landscape photography is a way for you to express your personal view of the world that surrounds you. To achieve amazing results you want to study and practice but first you want to observe and understand light and how it works. How it changes everything as the hours of the day go by. The same landscape seen in a different moment – or in different weather conditions – can look completely transformed.
Take your time, be patient and enjoy the learning process!