Taking landscape pictures may seem simple when you’re surrounded by so much natural beauty in the outdoors. But to really take a great photo, one that you want to share with friends or hang on your wall, there’s more to it than just pulling out your camera from Beachcamera.com and snapping a few pics. Here are some tips to help you learn how to take landscape photos worthy of sharing.
Select a Mid-Range Aperture
One of the goals when taking landscape pictures is to get an exceptionally sharp, clear image. The exposure settings that you choose have an effect on this, starting with aperture. To get the sharpest, clearest image possible, it’s best to shoot with an f-stop number that’s about two to three stops higher than the lowest possible (a mid-range aperture, like f/8 usually works well). Using an aperture too far toward either end of the spectrum, such as f/2.8 or f/22, can cause a subtle reduction in clarity. However, if your landscape photo includes visual elements in the foreground, mid-ground and background, then you might want to play with the aperture to achieve a certain creative effect. For instance, to create a high depth of field where elements in the foreground and background are in focus, you’ll want to use a high aperture, something like f/11 or f/16. Or, if you intentionally want to blur something in the foreground of the image, you can set your aperture low, such as f/2.8, for a shallow depth of field.
Choose a Low ISO
Another way to ensure the best image quality is to set the ISO as low as you can while still being able to shoot with the aperture and shutter speed that meet your needs. This will help keep the image from getting grainy, which can happen with higher ISO settings. An ISO in the 100 – 400 range usually works well for this. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to miss your shot because you’re determined to shoot with a low ISO in order to maintain image quality. If you need to raise the ISO so you can use a certain aperture and/or shutter speed, then do so.
Shoot During the Golden Hour
Photographers refer to the time periods just after sunrise or before sunset as the golden hour because of the beautiful, diffused light that is created by the sun being low in the sky. To really get a stunning landscape photo, go out during these times and take lots of pictures. With the sun low on the horizon, the scene will take on a warm glow and you might be able to capture long shadows that will add depth and interest to your images.
Aerial Landscape Photography
Drones literally open up a whole world of possibilities with landscape photography. The best time to photograph aerial landscapes is about 30-60 minutes after sunrise and before sunset. It’s not technically “golden hour”, but for drone photography, it’s better. This is when the sun is low in the sky, but still high enough to illuminate the landscape in a way that lights up the whole scene. If you shoot when the sun is right down on the horizon, you’ll often get an image where only the edges of the landscape are illuminated.
Use a Polarizing Filter
Using a polarizing filter can enhance color and contrast and reduce glare in landscape photography. Polarizing filters can be particularly useful when shooting scenes that include water, sky, rich colors and lots of reflections. For example, with a polarizing filter, you can really bring out the vibrant blue of the sky or reduce the shiny glare of water on rocks.
Use a Wide Angle Lens
Landscape photography just wouldn’t be the same without wide-angle lenses from Beachcamera.com. Superbly suited for the classic “near-far” style of composition, wide-angle lenses give you the ability to include generous amounts of foreground, background and sky simultaneously, creating photos with considerable depth and compositional power. While wide angle lenses don’t work perfectly for all scenes and circumstances, going wide nonetheless greatly expands your creative options.
Whether you’re using a point-and-shoot camera or a DSLR, you need to know how to use your equipment before you get out there. Spend some time at home exploring the functions on your camera before you head out to your location.