Monday, 3 September 2012

Landscape Photography

by Diane

While I was researching Landscape Photography, I started to notice that, while photographers agreed on certain elements that make a good landscape image, they all had slightly different ideas about what gives impact to an image. I will share some of these ideas and then you can experiment using these ideas to create your own personal style of landscape photography.
NZ photographer, Todd Sisson, tells how to shoot ‘Dynamic Landscapes’.

The term ‘Dynamic Landscapes’ was coined by the well known photographer, Galen Rowell to show how his work differed from everyday landscapes.
Sisson says that composition is the backbone of all great photos but it is essential for a strong landscape image. Successful composition draws the eye into the photo and keeps it there for as long as possible.
Personal interpretation must be injected into photography but here are some guidelines:
Leading Lines and Converging Lines.
Shoot converging cliché lines until it hurts until you get used to looking for lines. Look for leading lines in water, hills and the sky.

Composition seems to get better when you are not standing but when you are closer to the ground, mud, snow and cow pats, especially with a wide-angle lens. Leading lines become more powerful.
Go higher too, especially with a zoom lens. Climb on banks, rocks, walls, cars your wife’s/husband’s shoulders.

Strong Foreground
Dynamic landscapes almost always have a strong point of interest in the lower half of the photo. If it has leading lines then all the better. Just having a coloured sky isn’t dynamic. Move around to find a foreground.

Visually Stimulating Background
It is a balancing act. Which element is the main focal point? Ideally it is in the background with the foreground being the secondary one.

Vivid Colour and Incredible Light.
You need to be patient and wait for the light. Morning and afternoon are best. You need balance and not saturate the colour too much.

Vision Locking Control or Vignetting.
The eye is drawn towards the light and is held there by the dark edges.

Suggested Motion
You can use both frozen motion and blurred motion to enhance landscapes.
 All the above photos by Todd Sisson.

Landscapes can be B&W
They rely heavily on strong elements like lines.
Unknown photographer

All landscapes don’t have to have these elements of dynamic landscapes. There are static and two-dimensional landscapes that are very good.
Photographer Declan O’Neill’s Tips on Landscape Photography
Have Something to Say About the Landscape
Declan believes you have to do more than take a shot of a scene because it looks beautiful.  A photographer needs to find a voice through landscape. Take time to stand still and watch how light changes the contour of the land in dramatic ways. Light gives landscapes its own voice. Light creates emotion and mood in landscapes. The land is a huge canvas on which light paints a complex and delicate picture. Landscape photography is about capturing the way in which light transforms the land. When shooting and composing ask , “Does this say something about light and landscape?”

Chase the Light
Both late afternoon and early morning are good times to catch the light but early morning is best it is always surprising. Also remember to look behind you to see what the light is doing.
Morning light

Look behind a sunset

Clouds, rain, fog and mists often present exciting opportunities.

You Don’t Need to go Far
Practice around your own area. What might be ordinary to you can be new and different for others. Go at different times of the day to catch the different light.
Dennis Lake, Daisy Hill. dbohlen

Denis Lake afternoon sun dbohlen

Daisy Hill Forest dbohlen

Keep Going Back
If you find a good place keep returning and get different shots, different light, different weather, different angles, different focal lengths.

Equipment isn’t Important
Every photographer needs equipment but it is only a vehicle to transmit what is in your brain. You need a point of view and then you can use anything from a smart phone to the top of the range DSLR camera.
smart phone
Don’t Try to Paint a Landscape
It is in vogue for heavily processed or filtered photos. Heavily photoshopped or idealised versions of landscapes leave us cold. Silky water, orange skies and super saturated green grass don’t speak with their own voice. Let nature speak for itself and have its own voice.
Don’t Listen to All the Advice You Get
Finding your own voice as a photographer means choosing carefully what advice to take.
For example ‘Have a point of interest in the foreground.’ This presumably is based on the idea that landscapes are too boring without a gazing human or a grazing cow to grab your attention. If you do use a foreground element it should tell a story not just be there for the sake of it.

Decide what interests you and compose and edit your shots in a way that allows the land to speak with its own voice.
Photographer Rick Berk ‘s Tips on Landscape Photography.
It is very easy to get lost in the grandiosity of the overall view. Rick uses an ultra wide lens to emphasize the foreground and use the beautiful expanse as a background.
Rick Berk

Keep it Sharp
The foreground should be sharp but everything you want in the photo should be sharp. You need to figure out the hyper-focal distance (where you should focus) There are maths equations, charts or a smart phone app that will help you do this. You should use manual focus and a tripod.
Rick Berk
Use a Neutral Density filter to deal with high contrast scenes.
Framing with trees or buildings helps give context to where you are.

Expose for the sky by letting less light in. Use the exposure compensation setting and dial down a few negative stops. This stops the sky burning out and keeps the rich colours.
Negative Space
This is the area where there isn’t anything interesting. The point of interest should contrast with the negative space and point to or face into it.
Rick Berk 

Rule of Thirds and Leading Lines
Remember these for placing the point of interest.
Photographer Elliot Hook’s Tips on Landscape Photography
How to make Landscapes Sharp
Take three photos of the scene from a tripod. Using your sharpest aperture usually f8 focus on the foreground. Then in the next shot focus on the midground and take another shot focusing on the background.
Then at home:
Open the two images in Photoshop and create a new file that contains both images as different layers, in the one file (to make life easier, name the layers accordingly, e.g. near, far).
Select both layers and go to Edit > Auto-Align Layers to ensure both images overlay perfectly.  Select the ‘Auto’ option, and deselect the ‘Vignette Removal’ and ‘Geometric Distortion’ options.
Then select Edit > Auto-Blend Layers, and choose ‘Stack Images’, ensuring ’Seamless Tones and Colours’ is selected.


Extra Tips
Camera Modes
Use SCN to choose a variety of types of scenes snow/sand, foliage, night, sunset  etc
Go into menu and set vivid colour
For panoramic shots use the Stitch function.
bill bohlen

Focal Lengths
Use a zoom as against prime lens. Zoom offers a range of focal lengths whereas a prime lens is fixed.
Little zoom/short focal length  dbohlen

used zoom with wide aperture  dbohlen

Short focal length will give you a wide field of view. A long focal length will give a narrow field of view isolating a small area of the scene.
hort focal length/wide field of view  dbohlen

Long focal length/ narrow field of view  dbohlen

Change perspective. dbohlen

Make Shots Personal
Add family members, car or other personal objects. 

Photogorapher Linde Waidhofer’s View of Landscape Photography
Landscape photography is a personal or poetic expression rather than just a copy of everything that is out there.
Search for unusual perspectives, unique light, strong composition, geometric forms and a have a ruthless elimination of clutter.
Linde Waidhofer

We appreciate a photograph not for the ways they precisely render reality but ways in which they transcend it. We respond to images that show expression of something other than a replication of the world.
Final words by Eric Leslie
If you struggle with creating dull and insignificant images, the recurring theme through all of these tips is simply to do something new that you aren’t doing now. Growing your craft is not a checklist, it’s a process that takes time. Get out of your computer chair and experiment, keep making mistakes, and don’t forget to have fun! For me each new image is the thrill of the hunt. I love to seek the unknown and share it with the world. Images created by overcoming the biggest hurdles with the most blood, sweat and tears always move people the most.