I want to start back talking about tips and techniques in photography, and I know a lot of you enjoy photographing nature and the world around you . . . so let’s start there . . .
This is the first of a 3-part mini-series of blog posts. In this segment I will talk about Landscape photography in general, in the second segment I’ll focus more on the kit you might use depending on what you want to photograph and in the third segment I’ll list some of my favourite links to resources and people who you might like to look up and follow.
What Is Landscape Photography?
Seems like a good place to start!
In simple terms it’s the photographing of nature and the World around you. In reality this is very broad topic – the World is a massive place after all.
A great British tradition, the capturing of images from the countryside around us (and beyond).
These shots are usually taken with a wide angle lens (less than 40mm) to maximise the field of view, small aperture (f/11 or smaller) to give good depth of field and low ISO to keep noise to a minimum.
With these settings, shutter speeds are typically too long for hand-holding and so a tripod is almost always used.
Usually the image is ‘landscape’ format – meaning it is wider than it is tall – but in certain situations you can get some really nice compositions changing to portrait orientation. This is especially true when you have lots of close foreground interest as well as mid-range and far-off features and an interesting sky.
As with most photography, light is key here
A dull flat grey day isn’t usually conducive to a nice landscape image, but if that’s what you find when you’re out then you can look at creating some low contrast, moody scenes – perhaps in black and white.
I got up early one morning hoping to get a nice sunrise shot over some local lakes and found that rather than golden sun it was very foggy. Instead of going back to bed I persevered and took this image during blue hour (the hour before sunrise) which has been widely exhibited and even featured as the Facebook Page header image on The Photographic Angle.
Harsh midday light with the sun high in the sky is also not the best. The best time for Landscape shots tends to be when the sun is lower in the sky – after sunrise and before sunset – when you get softer golden light providing nice areas of light and shade.
As a result there can be a bit of waiting for that perfect light – but the view more than makes up for the wait!
Breaking the rules
While conventional Landscape photos are made in colour, and ‘landscape’ format, rules are there to be broken and it’s certainly possible to take awesome shots in black and white. I like the effect that my Infrared camera has on the landscape as in this shot that I took in Scotland last summer;
And, as I mentioned above, there’s no reason why you can’t make a vertical landscape image. This is a crop from a recent outing with my drone;
As well as Landscapes, being an island nation, we’re blessed with stunning sea views too – so don’t forget seascapes. These range from tranquil mill-pond views, to stormy waves crashing on rocks, they might include foreground rocks or beaches or concentrate on sea and sky.
Another technique here that looks stunning is long exposure. By adding a neutral density filter to the front of the lens you can limit the amount of light coming in. This enables you to set exposure times of tens of seconds or even minutes. This, in turn, makes moving water and clouds look milky and smooth, while the static elements remain unchanged – I’ll link to some examples of this in the third part of this series.
Where To Go To Shoot Landscapes
There are countless places around the UK to take great landscape (and seascape) photos – the Lake District in the north, Pennines and Yorkshire Dales, Brecon in mid-wales, the Gower coast in south Wales, rugged coastlines along the south coast. Even where I am in suburban Surrey we’re only a short drive from rolling fields, South downs, Surrey Hills and Newlands corner (where this photo was taken).
For inspiration, take a look at your local Wildlife Trust website, National Trust, Tourist Information or get yourself an Ordnance Survey Map and look for the Viewpoint symbol (some SatNav systems have this feature too);
Of course, in order to get into nature there can be some walking involved to get to a nice vantage point. If you’re away from your car or home make sure you take a phone and tell people where you are going – if you get into difficulty (even something as simple as tripping and twisting an ankle) people need to know where you are.
If you’re going to be out for a while make sure you take appropriate clothing and protection – in the UK that usually means something to keep the rain off. There’s nothing worse than standing around when you’re wet and cold.
If you have any more tips and tricks, leave them in the comments section below.
In Part 2, next week, we’ll get a bit more technical and look at some of the kit you might need for Landscape photography.