Top 5 Advanced Landscape Photography Tips
I am a landscape photographer from Adelaide, South Australia and below I'll list some of my more advanced landscape photography tips. Learning and experimenting with these tips have helped me take my photography to the next level. If you are beginner photographer I suggest you read my Top 10 Landscape Photography Tips first.
What is bracketing or also known as exposure compensation? Bracketing is basically over exposing and under exposing your current exposure setting. Where to find this setting? Read your camera manual or google it. Now the real question is why bracket? I personally use bracketing most times a shoot. Bracketing is great for exposing for environments with high light and shadows. For example, if you are photographing a cave, to expose the shadows correctly you will blow out the light coming from the entrance. But by taking multiple exposures you can correct this later in Photoshop by under exposing the cave entrance and over exposing the shadows. Another example is at the beach shooting directly into the sunset. Without bracketing or gradual neutral density filters, your foreground is going to be underexposed or your background will be overexposed. Using bracketing you can balance your scene by compensating with multiple exposures. You can change how much stops you want to expose for in the settings depending on your situation at the time. Below I'll show you an example of bracketed raw files.
Bracketing is over and under exposing your original exposure setting to compensate for highlights and shadows.
Change how many stops you want to expose for depending on the scene
Bracketing is great, if you do not have a gradual neutral density filter
2. Taking Panoramic Photos
You will need a good tripod, Photoshop or Lightroom to effectively create a panorama. I will run you through the steps I take to create a panoramic photograph. Basically, a panoramic photograph is multiple images stitched together using computer software. First, you need to get the tripod perfectly level on the ground, there should be a level gauge on your tripod. Now you need to get your camera perfectly level on your tripod. Your camera should have a display setting that shows its level, usually a green line indicates that it is perfectly level. If you do not have any of the above features, you can use the horizon as a guideline to hopefully compose a perfectly straight panorama. Now once everything is level you are ready to take your shots. You want to overlap each photo that you take, the more of the scene you overlap with each photo, the more information Photoshop has to create a perfect composite. I suggest taking multiple shots to make sure you have the perfect images once returning home. You can take panoramic shots in landscape or portrait orientations, depending on your subject. The same rules apply for either, make sure everything is level and you overlap each photograph. Once in Photoshop, click file, automate & photo merge, automatic and let Photoshop do the rest. Below are the RAW files and final panoramic image examples I have taken.
Make sure you tripod and camera are completely level
Use the horizon as a guideline if you can’t get perfectly level
Overlap each shot, more data the better for Photoshop
Shot in landscape or portrait orientation depending on your subject
Composition is completely subjective and is how photographers develop their personal style. There are certain elements you can add to your photos to make them stand out and catch the attention of people. My number one rule is to have an interesting foreground before a beautiful background. A lot of time people get distracted by the amazing sunset or sunrise in the background and completely forget about the interest in the foreground. A complete image is an interesting foreground and amazing background. So what makes an interesting foreground? This question really depends on your location, but you must keep it simple and only focus on one interest. For example, a single rock at the beach, a structure leading into the water, a river flowing through the frame. Basically, anything that leads your eye through the scene that you are composing. I’m sure you are aware of the rule of thirds, this is used to balance out your composition, however I see it more of a guideline and rules are made to be broken. Get creative, don’t worry about what others are doing, photography is an art and you should always be experimenting with your creative side. Below are leading line examples.
Find an interesting foreground before worrying about the background
Keep it simple, don’t over complicate an image
Use leading lines or a point of interest that holds your eye within the scene
Use the rule of thirds more as a guide than a strict rule
Get out of your comfort zone and get creative
4. Focus Stacking
Focus stacking is simple, you focus on the foreground and then focus on the background. This allows for a completely in-focus and sharp image. Once you have your two images, you will need to blend the in-focus background and foreground together in Photoshop. Below is an example of when I used this technique, I really wanted the waterfall and vegetation to be just as sharpe as the foreground.
5. Manual Mode
When shooting in manual mode you only need to worry about 3 things, ISO, aperture (f), and shutter speed (s). I’m only going to talk about this briefly and tell you the standard settings. I would advise you to keep your ISO on 100 or your lowest setting. This is for maintaining the highest quality image possible. Your aperture should be between 8 – 14 (f), to have the sharpest and largest depth of field images. Your shutter speed will depend on how much light the camera sensor is picking up. So, your shutter speed should be used to expose your image correctly. You can use your aperture and ISO to influence your shutter speed time. For example, you can lower your aperture from f /14 to f/20 to let less light in and increase your shutter speed. The same rule applies vice versa, a higher f number will let more light in, for example f/4.
Keep ISO low to maintain quality
Aperture range for landscape photography 8 -14 (f)
Shutter speed can be influenced by aperture and ISO
I hope you have learnt a thing or two and if you have any questions or want to know more in detailed please feel free to contact me. If you like this blog I'd love for you to share it or comment below.