Landscape Photography by John Campos

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LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY by John Campos

There are many definitions of Landscape Photography. Typically as defined by Wikipedia, many landscape photographs show “little or no human activity and are created in the pursuit of a pure, unsullied depiction of nature devoid of human influence, instead featuring subjects such as strongly defined landforms, weather, and ambient light.” As with most forms of art, the definition of a landscape photograph is broad, and may include urban settings, industrial areas, and nature photography.

For me, it is photography that focuses on the amazing beauty of the natural world and hence I share my learning’s and experience on this aspect.

Some important aspects to consider about this genre of photography:

1. It tells a story: In a good landscape picture you will find different interesting details in the photo every time you look at it. It can remind you of a certain location, a certain point in time, or a period of your life.
2. It shares your feelings: It gives you an opportunity to share the joy or excitement that you felt when you saw those amazing sights.
3. It reminds us of Mother Nature’s beauty: A stunning sunrise, majestic mountains, rushing rivers – nature can be awe-inspiring, and photography is an excellent medium through which to capture and store its beauty.

Tools: In addition to your camera and lens, the next most important piece of equipment is a good tripod. Invariably, because of maximum DOF (Depth of Field) requirements, small apertures and low light situations you will end up with slow shutter speeds and hence the need for a tripod. Desirable but not a necessity, is a wide angle lens. However a regular kit lens at 18 mm focal length can give you excellent results.

Techniques: a few of the lessons I have learnt – 

1. DOF: Maximise depth of field by selecting a smaller aperture to ensure everything is in focus. Typically F11 to F22 will give you maximum DOF.

2. Focus: As rule of thumb, you should focus roughly one-third up from the bottom of the frame in order to achieve maximum sharpness & depth of field throughout.

3. Composition: use the ‘Rule of Thirds’ – horizon can be placed at the lower or upper third depending on what you want to highlight, sky or land. Most landscapes will either have a dominant fore ground or sky. The focal point can be placed at the left or right third. Where possible use ‘leading lines’ to draw the viewer towards the focal point.

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4. Light: The best time is early morning or late evening, when the light is soft. This is known as the magic or golden hour. Sunrise and sunsets make for dramatic landscape photographs.

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5. Water: This can be an interesting focal point. Flowing water can be highlighted by using a slower shutter speed which will produce a blurred effect to show the speed of the water.

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Still water can be used as a mirror to obtain a reflection of your focal point.

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6. Sky/Clouds: These can add dramatic effect to the photograph.

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7. Perspective: Try to include details of interest in the foreground.

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8. Shoot RAW and use low ISO: RAW preserves all the data, including data that is not possible to record in JPG format. When needed, in post processing, all the stored data can be used to get the best possible output. Keep ISO settings low (100 – 200) to retain detail and avoid noise.

9. HDR: Landscapes are ideal to experiment with HDR since there is generally no movement and the technique makes it possible to capture the whole range of light in a single shot.

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10. Portrait style: Sometimes shooting in portrait style (camera held vertical) is better than landscape style and helps keep those elements that you wish to highlight in focus.

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Camera Settings: These are my preferred settings

1. RAW format
2. Aperture Priority: F11 to F18
3. ISO : 100 to 200
4. Focus : Auto Focus
5. Metering : Matrix
6. White Balance: Auto

I use a Canon 550D / Canon 40D with a Canon 18-135 mm & a Sigma 10-20 mm lens and a Vanguard ball head tripod.

Post processing: The amount of post-processing done is a personal choice. Generally parameters like sharpening and minor changes to contrast, curves, and saturation can enhance the photographs.

Conclusion: Remember to tell a story! People who look at pictures will enjoy looking at a story rather than just a snapshot any day. Telling stories with your camera forces you to slow down and think about what you are doing. What is it about this scene that makes you want to capture it as a photograph? What moves you or attracts your eye? Is there a theme, a phrase or a point of view that you want to capture and preserve? Where is the beginning, the middle and the end? That is the joy of landscape photography.

Reading/reference:

Beginners’ guide to Landscape Photography – Tips, Settings, Composition & How to Tutorials


http://digital-photography-school.com/?s=landscape
http://photography.nationalgeographic.co.in/photography/photo-tips/landscape-photography-tips/

john

An engineer by profession, an entrepreneur by choice. A traveler by passion and a photographer by persuasion. I guess that sums me up. Being passionate about travelling, visiting new places and enjoying nature and the outdoors, I was persuaded to take up photography seriously. Having done so, the opportunity to photograph now decides where I travel!

Saurabh’s guidance and the amazing SIA fraternity have had a huge influence on my abilities and skills. Thanks Saurabh – your enthusiasm and desire to excel has rubbed off on me.

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About Saurabh Chatterjee

About Saurabh Chatterjee’s photography classes

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