The Five Habits of a Successful Landscape Photographer
- Always use a tripod. Invest in a sturdy tripod, preferably a carbon fiber one that is built for the elements. At times it might seem easier to handhold your camera, but trust me, your images will be sharper and more level when using a tripod. Turn off image stabilization (Canon) or vibration reduction (Nikon) when you use a tripod. This might seem counter-intuitive but according to B&H photo, it is important for sharper photos.
- Carry two filters for each lens. The first filter I recommend is the polarizing filter. This filter will increase saturation, increase the contrast between the white clouds and the blue sky and reduce reflections. The other filter I recommend is a neutral density filter. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I love this filter. An ND filter will reduce the amount of light reaching the sensor in order to increase exposure times, without affecting the color of the image. The result is a surreal image, one that cannot be captured by the eye. If you want to creative one-of-a-kind images, this is a great tool. There are way too many types of these filters to mention in this blog. They are measured in stops: from 3-10 stops. Typically I use a 3-stop ND filter with my polarizing filter (which also reduces light) for a combined 5-6 stop loss of light.
- Shoot in Manual Mode. This is the camera mode that will give you the most control and allow you to use a ‘creative exposure’ vs. a ‘correct exposure’. Although I do not teach manual mode in my beginner-level course, I have an entire online course dedicated to this topic. If you are not familiar with this camera mode, you need to learn the exposure triangle first.
- Follow the light. The best times of the day for landscapes are early morning or late evening. Known as the ‘sweet light’ this is the time when there are no harsh shadows and the colors are the most vibrant. Download a phone app that will tell you the sunrise and sunset times for your area, and wait for the sweet light. You will know when you see it, and it doesn’t last long. Photographs in the sweet light will set your photographs apart from amateurs.
- Use a wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens. Nothing in between matters. Your story can either be the whole picture or an intimate part of nature. I love to use a zoom lens that provides both options, so I do not have to change lenses. You can use both methods but should always decide who or what your subject is before you take a photo. It will help you in your composition of the image. A lens that I love to work with is the new Tamron 16-300 mm zoom lens.
Spring is almost here. I don’t know about you, but I am going to be heading out to many of the landmarks in my home state of Georgia to photograph the landscapes.
Tripod, check; filters, check; manual mode, check; light, check; lens, check. I am all set to go.
For more information on DSLR photography check out the online course.
To view my portrait photography site visit Lightscapes Portrait Studio.
To view my fine art photography site visit Mary Buck Photography.