Landscape Photography Primer

Lenses

The optics that sit in front of your camera are of vital importance in landscape photography. And while you don't want to skimp on image quality or sharpness, it's important to remember that you'll be shooting with a tripod and often stopping down the aperture for increased depth of field. Your priority then is not necessarily on 'fast' lenses with wide maximum apertures.

For landscape photographers shooting with full-frame DSLRs, the 70-200mm zoom lens is often a popular choice. And one that is available from many manufacturers.

One of the biggest decisions for DSLR or mirrorless interchangeable lens camera shooters is whether to outfit a kit with prime (fixed focal length) lenses, zooms, or a combination of both. Prime lenses used to offer significantly superior output than zoom lenses, with greater sharpness and fewer lens flaws such as chromatic aberration. The image quality of zoom lenses, however, has increased substantially in recent decades, with the high-end offerings providing very good image quality and of course the ability to access several focal lengths with a single piece of gear.

In practice this means that composing an image can be done more quickly and with greater precision. And when carrying only two lenses - say a 24-70mm and 70-200mm - you are covered for almost any situation you'll encounter in the field. In my experience, the best prime lenses still have a discernible edge over zooms in terms of sharpness and rendition of detail. But the difference generally comes into play only when producing large prints.

So what is the best camera system for landscape photography? There is no single correct answer. It all depends on several factors that you must take into account before heading to your camera shop.

  • Are you building a system exclusively for landscape photography? Or will you shoot things like wildlife, macro, portraiture or architecture as well?
  • Will you be displaying your finished images exclusively online? Making small prints for friends and family? Or do you plan to sell large prints to the public?
  • Do you prefer day or week-long treks into the wilderness or will you be working close to your vehicle?
  • And last but not least…how does your monthly bank statement look? Buying a photographic kit is a considerable long-term investment of which the camera is merely the first expense.

Here's the camera and lens kit I've settled on for landscape shooting:

This system allows me the flexibility to do a good amount of wildlife and macro work as well. With a resolution of 22MP I am very well covered to make large prints, the tilt/shift lenses give me some perspective control (though not as much as a view camera would) and the overall package is just light enough for me to carry over long distances. This system represents a significant investment, but as a working photographer, it gives me the ability to produce both editorial and fine art work of professional quality. Your needs, and of course budget, may differ.

Filters

While I make use of digital image editing tools, I still find some filters to be indispensable. With a polarizer I can increase contrast and saturation in-camera as well as reduce reflections on bodies of water. Solid ND (neutral density) filters, which reduce incoming light to the lens, allow me to increase exposure time, and graduated ND filters let me selectively darken an area of the scene so that both bright and dark elements can be exposed with visible detail in a single exposure.

Graduated ND filters are dark on one end and clear on the other with either a soft or hard graduation in the middle. Placed in front of the lens these filters can darken a portion of the scene (usually by anywhere from 1 to 3 stops EV) for a balanced exposure.

When choosing filters I recommend a filter system by Cokin (shown here) or Lee. In contrast to screw-on filters, a single drop-in filter can be used on different sized lenses via an adapter ring. Even more importantly, the ND grad filters can be moved up and down in the filter holder, for precise alignment of the exposure adjustment.

You should also be aware of UV, Skylight and clear protection filters. The effect of the first two is to filter out the blue colour cast that you find at high altitudes or by the sea. But these filters, along with the dedicated clear filters, have also become very popular as protection for the front element of the lens. It is easier and cheaper to replace a broken filter than a broken lens.

Tripods

Creating professional quality landscape images is just not possible without a tripod. Landscape photographers are often shooting during the 'magic hours' of dawn and dusk when light levels require exposure times that are measured in full seconds or even minutes. A landscape photographer’s tripod needs to withstand high winds, rain, hail and snow, saltwater and extreme heat and cold. In the long run it pays to invest upfront in a good quality model. 

A tripod needs to be, above all else,
sturdy and reliable. Adding light
weight as a requirement further
increases the price, but will make
even moderate treks easier.
A ball head (shown above) allows for quick
adjustments along multiple axes simultaneously.
A quick-release system makes mounting and
unmounting the camera a very fast process.

Professional-grade tripods are typically constructed primarily of wood, aluminium or carbon fibre. Aluminium tripods are probably the most common and the least expensive. Wooden tripods are rather heavy to carry but absorb vibration like no other material. Carbon fibre tripods, although quite expensive, are on many a photographers' wish list because they weigh significantly less than either wood or aluminium yet are very sturdy.

In addition to all of the gear I've already mentioned, there some more bits and pieces that always have a place in my bag: a waist level finder, bubble level, X-Rite ColorChecker target, spare battery, raincover and/or towel, cleaning cloth and brush, flashlight and a pocket knife.

Click here to continue reading our Landscape Photography primer...

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 96
12
NareshKlick
By NareshKlick (8 months ago)

Thanks Carsten. I would like to see a series of articles on landscapes...each one discussing on various aspects or challenges of landscape photography.

0 upvotes
videojocuri12
By videojocuri12 (11 months ago)

Awesome lenses

0 upvotes
jocuribestcom
By jocuribestcom (Apr 9, 2013)

nice photo

0 upvotes
carsmaniacs
By carsmaniacs (Jan 24, 2013)

While a good article, I am surprised that you say a 24 - 200 or 300mm set of lenses would be great for landscape.
In my experience it is not!

1 upvote
jocurile
By jocurile (Jun 19, 2012)

Cool, I can't even image how far the difference would be between this two cameras, yes how original the picture would look.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 37 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
liveagain
By liveagain (May 28, 2012)

Thank you, Carsten. Another great article on dpreview. Hopefully this article will be kept in an easy-to-find spot as the years pass by. I look forward to learn more from in the next article.

0 upvotes
gevalia
By gevalia (Mar 23, 2012)

1. Back in the days of film - film is not dead. I shoot 4x5 95% of the time. I can get 4x5 film all over the place and developing B&W is cheap. Lenses are plentiful both new and used (ebay). Cameras are cheap to expensive. You can get a used 4x5 for $200 or spend thousands. You do NOT need to spend thousands on a 4x5 camera. Or on a medium format camera. You can get a fantastic 645 medium format camera with a few lenses that shoots 120 film for less than $1000 total. Films and ISO's are plentifull, just check Adorama or B&H or Freestyle.
2. Todays dslr's at the same resolution as medium format - in what world is resolution everything?
3. You bring a dslr, SD cards, 3/4 lenses(primes and teles), tripod, extra batteries into the field and you're probably very close to the weight of my 4x5 kit.
4. With large format film photography, you do everything. There is no autofocus. There is no in-camera metering. You carry a hand held spot meter and do it all yourself. You learn photography.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
PeterFXCassidy
By PeterFXCassidy (Feb 11, 2012)

Nice and all sage advice but what about the Fuji S5 Pro?

0 upvotes
Curt Geiger
By Curt Geiger (Feb 6, 2012)

One important thing you seem to have overlooked is that a successful landscape photograph should have a straight horizon. ;)

1 upvote
roseofsharon
By roseofsharon (Feb 2, 2012)

Has a film-based 35mm camera ever had a digital back? Is there one in the making?

0 upvotes
loveskiing
By loveskiing (Jan 30, 2012)

Carsten, I really enjoyed your article, especially preparing for a location shot. The only thing I wish you would have touched on was focus points. Trying to keep things in focus, front and back, can, sometimes, be a challenge. Thanks again for your article.

3 upvotes
NYC Jim
By NYC Jim (Jan 26, 2012)

Thanks Carsten. This article makes me want to look for your books.

1 upvote
Gman58
By Gman58 (Jan 25, 2012)

Thanks for the great article.

0 upvotes
tomblankenship-dot-com
By tomblankenship-dot-com (Jan 25, 2012)

Hummm, Dvlee. Astute observation, indeed. Personally, I see something else with that same set of 'eyes/nose' ;-))

0 upvotes
Dvlee
By Dvlee (Jan 25, 2012)

While quickly scrolling through the DP main page, as I scrolled past the entry for this article I noticed how in the image of the rocks in the water, the rocks look like a pair of eyes peering out of the water and a big bulbous nose. Now I cannot look at the photo without seeing that. LOL

0 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Jan 24, 2012)

Many thanks for this great primer! I'm more into wildlife tele and macro shooting (+ portrait) but more and more interested in landscape. So this is a great help for me, your pictures are so inspiring! Can't wait for a planned trip to Norway this summer and think already about getting me a set of Cokin filters - so your primer came just in time.

0 upvotes
Greg Short
By Greg Short (Jan 24, 2012)

I love the work you produce. The article is great and very useful for my level of experience, I admire professionals who are prepared to share their knowledge.
Thank You

0 upvotes
Haider
By Haider (Jan 24, 2012)

Hi Carsten,

Thanks for the primer; hopefully there will be a followup article to build on this. I was wondering are there any books in particular you would recommend to a novice?

Thanks
Haider

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 24, 2012)

I was never big into technical books, the only book of that kind I ever owned (some 25 years ago...) was by the late German nature photographer Fritz Poelking.
What helped me a lot however was looking at the work of other photographers, especially Jim Brandenburg and Joe Cornish have been very influential to me.
Joe Cornish's "First Light" is a collection of images with the story behind each image, not very technical though it focuses more on the creative thought process. David Ward has also published two books ("Landscape Within" and "Landscape Beyond") that explore the philosophical side of landscape photography. A very interesting read.
Another favorite of mine is Daryl Benson's book "Canada".

0 upvotes
Haider
By Haider (Jan 24, 2012)

That fine I'm also of the opinion that a photo should talk to you like a Monet or Van Gogh. I'll grab a copy of First Light.

0 upvotes
Andreas-AM
By Andreas-AM (Jan 23, 2012)

While a good article, I am surprised that you say a 24 - 200 or 300mm set of lenses would be great for landscape.
In my experience it is not!

Landscape has often to do with wide angles. I much more use a 16 mm (full frame equ.) than any kind of tele....

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 23, 2012)

You can make striking landscape images with any kind of lens from a fisheye up to a tele. It's up to you if you prefer one or the other.
However what I often encounter during workshops is that the use of wide angle lenses is tempting the photographer to let the impact of the wide view dominate the image instead on focusing on a proper composition.

1 upvote
Dvlee
By Dvlee (Jan 25, 2012)

I like the way a long lens compresses the elements of the scene making them look like they are much closer...orif one backs up and uses a long lens the more disatant objects are larger in proportion to objects in between. This is a good way to make a far away object more proanant in the image.

A panoramic shoot comprised of a series on vertical images shot with a long lens will make the stant object fill more verticle space instead of a pencil thin line with too much foreground or sky as one would get from a full frame wide angle shot.

There are many ways to use long lenses for landscape shots!

0 upvotes
rverdoold
By rverdoold (Jan 22, 2012)

Thanks for bringing back my memories of Northern Ireland. I lived near the Causeway. A brilliant place for landscape photography.

0 upvotes
Db26
By Db26 (Jan 21, 2012)

Thanks, Carsten, for this excellent and very interesting article.

0 upvotes
RadPhoto
By RadPhoto (Jan 21, 2012)

Thanks for the article

0 upvotes
Heru Anggono
By Heru Anggono (Jan 21, 2012)

Carsten mentioned the importance of UV filter. I thought modern digital sensor is less susceptible to UV light and does not benefit much from UV filter. Any comment on this?

0 upvotes
Artak Hambarian
By Artak Hambarian (Jan 21, 2012)

1. To decrease the extra blue cast: while being invisible, UV contributes to the blue channel.
2. Protect your lens.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 57 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Denis of Whidbey Island
By Denis of Whidbey Island (Jan 21, 2012)

1.1. If modern digital sensors are less susceptible to UV light, are they not less sensitive to contribution to the blue channel?
2.1. That's the photographer's job.

1 upvote
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 21, 2012)

1.2 True, but the important word here is "less". So especially at high altitudes and by the sea an UV filter is helpful. On the other hand if you are shooting RAW it is relatively easy to remove any colour cast.
2.2. It is - that's why I leave a filter (UV or clear) in front of the lens. It's much cheaper to replace a broken filter than the front element of a lens.

0 upvotes
blue camera
By blue camera (Jan 21, 2012)

Regarding the ongoing debate about using a UV filter to protect the lens, no one ever seems to mention that you can have it both ways:

* Use it as a see-through lens cap: keep it on if the camera is out of its bag, to keep dust, grit, and moisture off the lens when tramping the outdoors. Easier to give a quick swipe to a cheap filter than careful cleanings, more often, to a delicate lens. (And you're not fumbling with a lens cap, should Bigfoot or a Leprechaun suddenly pop into view.)

* Take it off when you get serious about shooting a frame: removing any chance that an extra piece of glass is going to degrade your image through quality, reflection, or that aforementioned dust and poor cleaning.

If you are expecting to drop your camera and have a UV lens protect it, good luck. A rock can go through more than a single filter.

Thanks for the article, Carsten. I hope the edited content will show up in further installments.

2 upvotes
Denis of Whidbey Island
By Denis of Whidbey Island (Jan 22, 2012)

I suppose I assume that anyone shooting landscapes at a level (double entendre intended) where the UV that is not already filtered has an impact is also shooting raw (why to people treat this as an acroynm?). Am I giving too much credit?

1 upvote
Artak Hambarian
By Artak Hambarian (Jan 21, 2012)

... That is why the view cameras and panoramic stitching are and will long be available...

0 upvotes
Artak Hambarian
By Artak Hambarian (Jan 21, 2012)

Very nice article and nice, well composed photos with interesting lighting! For those who are concerned if MP count matters: sure you can do good photos with low MP count... but please go to a library (or a bookstore), pick a few landscape photography books and try to notice how much the high level of detail matters along with other picture parameters!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
1 upvote
antiobjects
By antiobjects (Jan 21, 2012)

Interesting use of tilt-shift lenses.

0 upvotes
mikeoregon
By mikeoregon (Jan 21, 2012)

Thanks, Carsten, for your excellent primer; hope you will keep going.

I'm curious if you actually pack all your listed cameras, lenses and tripod when you hike? I've been using a Nikon D700 with 24-70mm lens--that plus a carbon fiber tripod is as much weight as I want to carry.

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 21, 2012)

Very much depends where I am going and what I have planned to shoot. My "problem" is that I also shoot wildlife and macro.
I always bring a tripod and the 24mm/45mm/90mm are my standard lenses for landscapes (but I just got 2 Voigtlander pancake lenses, a 20mm and a 40mm, very small and very light, if they live up to their reputation they might replace the TSE lenses on long hikes). I rarely bring the 2.8/70-200 on longer hikes because it's awfully heavy. If there is a chance for wildlife I also bring a 4/300mm and 1.4x converter (if I only shoot wildlife the tripod stays at home).
When I know I will be shooting close to the car (less than 1 hour hike) I usually bring the lot. It's good exercise :-)

0 upvotes
Daniel Lowe
By Daniel Lowe (Jan 20, 2012)

Thanks for this article, these articles are a great addition to the site.
While I am likely to get shot down for this, I would like to mention the enjoyment one can get from using good compact cameras for landscapes. While I would dearly love to buy better gear, the realities of having a large family on a modest income means I simply can't justify the expense.
I live in NZ on the West Coast of the South Island, (a landscape photographers paradise) and as a keen amateur 'landscaper' I make do with a Panasonic LX5 (multi aspect sensor, 24mm wide equivalent) and a Fuji superzoom (22.5-660mm equivalent). I know these small sensor cams can't deliver the results of larger sensor cameras, but if you don't pixel peep or print huge they can still deliver surprisingly good results. I find landscape photography a very therapeutic and enriching experience, thanks for writing this article.

6 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Jan 21, 2012)

same here. unless we're selling our images or print large, a compact camera would do well due to its size and weight for travel. outside image resolution, my Sigma DP is very good for landscapes.

2 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (Jan 20, 2012)

I am an amateur and I like scouting locations around my hometown, snapping planning photos in less than ideal conditions. Sometimes I happen on a great scene at a great time, but need a "re-do" due to lack of tripod.

One piece of kit that I find handy, surprisingly not mentioned in the article, is the lowly L - bracket.

0 upvotes
MikeFreeze
By MikeFreeze (Jan 20, 2012)

Thanks for this very interesting article. However, I can't agree with your assertion that a FF DSLR produces better resolution photos than a MF film camera. Do you have any data or references to back this up? High resolution scans made from film are arguably superior to images from DSLRs, especially when the scan is made from a larger negative than the DSLR sensor. DSLRs are great, but film still rules for the ultimate landscape photos.

1 upvote
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Thank's Mike. Film vs digital is an ongoing discussion among landscape photographers. I have been working with medium format (4.5x6) and large format (4x5) before I switched over to digital and in my experience a high end digital SLR produces "better" (in absence of a more suitable adjective) images than medium format slide film, even when this film is scanned properly at the highest possible resolution. I won't go into pixel peeping here (I leave this to others) but prints from DSLR files look crisper and cleaner and show a greater amount of detail than the same done from medium format slide scans .
Large format film however is a totally different story and here film indeed still rules over DSLR. But then you can bring in digital backs with a resolution of 60 or so megapixels and you can start the argument all over again.
In the end a good image is a good image, no matter if it is shot on film or sensor.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
MikeFreeze
By MikeFreeze (Jan 20, 2012)

Thanks - good reply. I like 'em both myself. It may just be my nostalgia for film, but I find that Fuji Velvia 50 slide film is pretty hard to beat for outstanding landscape scenes. Once again, thanks for a great article.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (Jan 21, 2012)

then again.. your comment is in reference to 6x4.5 medium format. Is 6x7 or 6x9 also medium format?

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 21, 2012)

6x7, 6x9 and 6x6 also falls in the medium format category but as I have never used them I can't really comment. However the sizes are so similar the resolution of these films should be almost identical.

0 upvotes
PicOne
By PicOne (Jan 21, 2012)

wouldn't 6x9 be double the size of 6 x 4.5?

0 upvotes
DrTebi
By DrTebi (Jan 24, 2012)

For your pixel-peeping satisfaction:
http://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2011/12/big-camera-comparison/

It clearly shows that the resolution of film is extremely high, and that medium format film _can_ beat a full frame DSLR. It just depends on many factors like the film, the scanner etc.

Nevertheless, digital sensors have come a long way.

Digital projectors haven't though--"HD" means 2 megapixels. For me landscape photography is just a hobby, I don't sell prints or even print much for myself. I prefer watching slides on a 8x8 foot screen... without the 2 megapixel limit...

1 upvote
Ashley Pomeroy
By Ashley Pomeroy (Jan 20, 2012)

That was really good - especially the emphasis on scouting out the area beforehand. I used to think that it was silly going back to a location, because I'd "done that", but light and climate have infinite variations, and no location remains the same.

Also, a helicopter is very useful.

2 upvotes
JPMontez
By JPMontez (Jan 20, 2012)

Thanks for the nice article. I love landscape photography.

3 upvotes
ecuadordave
By ecuadordave (Jan 20, 2012)

Great article. I hope to see more like this from dpreview. I have to agree with the authors emphasis on patience. I live in the Andes mountains of Ecuador, and some of my shots were literally years in the making waiting for that perfect combination of weather and lighting. My best advice is to always be alert of the weather if you are taking landscapes near your home. Sometimes you can get a sense that it's going to be a great sunset by the look of the clouds in the afternoon. That's the time to start getting your gear ready to head out. Same thing goes for watching the cycles of the moon for night shots.

0 upvotes
RSColo
By RSColo (Jan 20, 2012)

One last comment. Before your history there were some painters that did an excellent job of capturing the landscape. In particular, Albert Bierstadt documented the American west. His goal was to accurately produce images of the landscape. In other words, photography before the camera. His paining of the Mount of the Holy Cross in Colorado, showing the snow cross in the mountain crevasses, created such a stir in the east that many people came out west to see the "miracle" in the mountains.

Again, great article. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Ross Murphy
By Ross Murphy (Jan 20, 2012)

Nice article Carsten, not overly complicated as a lot of people do, simple and elegant. I really like that first image (page 3),long exposure tele, would like more details on it if you could.

Keep up the nice work.

Ross

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Made with a 70-200mm @ 85mm, f22, 10sec.
Exposure time was the tricky part here. I wanted to slightly blur the fog flowing over the cliffs so I experimented with solid ND filters and different ISO settings to get various exposure times. 10 seconds (ISO100, 1stop ND) produced the best result in the end. A 2/3 stop ND grad was also used to balance sky and foreground.

0 upvotes
RSColo
By RSColo (Jan 20, 2012)

The other technique I use is HDR. The range of light, from brightest to darkest, that a camera sensor can capture is far more limited than the human eye. HDR, or high dynamic range, overcomes this limitation. Multiple shots are taken of the same frame, some over exposed and some underexposed. the shots are then combined in the computer later into an image that can more accurately reflect the scene observed by the photographer. I say "can" in the previous sentence because HDR can easily be over done, resulting in artificial looking images. For this reason, many photographers shy away from HDR calling it "artificial". Yet these same photographers are often willing to make black and white photos. Because history favors B&W, thanks to Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, etc., that technique is more acceptable to many.

Today is not the mid-1900s and the tools at our disposal are not the same. Panorama stitching and HDR are modern techniques that greatly expand what we can do with a camera.

3 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

I do both panoramic stitching and HDR but to include these techniques would have been way beyond a primer.
The limitations of both techniques unfortunately are when you are working with long exposure times or when there are moving subjects in the frame. Producing a convincing final image then is very difficult.
I am still hoping for a digital XPAN sometime... :-)

0 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (Jan 21, 2012)

On the other hand, I have had a laugh at myself when noting a moving subject in multiple locations on an autostitch....possibly this could be a feature, not an occasion for cloning out, in certain situations.

0 upvotes
RSColo
By RSColo (Jan 20, 2012)

Great overview. You hit many of the suggestions that I give on my site:

http://www.sawatchpub.com/HowToTakeFineArtPhotos.html

I just say things a little differently.

Two areas I would add are the use of panorama and HDR techniques. I have a 12mg pixel camera which offers a lot less large printing ability than I am used to from my 4x5 days. To make up for this limitation I use multi-frame panoramas. The idea is to take multiple shots in multiple rows and then stitch them together into a much larger image.

0 upvotes
SterlingBjorndahl
By SterlingBjorndahl (Jan 20, 2012)

> recreate a three-dimensional world without borders inside a one-dimensional rectangular frame

That's poetic but inaccurate. A rectangle is two-dimensional, not one-dimensional.

Great article, though.

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Ups, you're right of course. Bad mistake.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Jan 20, 2012)

Fixed. Thanks.

0 upvotes
Bossons
By Bossons (Jan 20, 2012)

I must agree with other contributors that the article covers a number of pertinent topics for a reader that may be new to this area of photography.

However, all but one of the sample landscape photos completely failed to "convey an emotional sense of place" to this viewer. In particular the first photo which was underscored by the statement "A successful landscape photograph conveys an emotional sense of place to the viewer." Surely a professional landscape photographer based on one of the most photogenic islands in north western Europe would be capable of producing a selection of breathtaking shots to illustrate this statement in action.
A number of strong photos would also have added a degree of authority to this article.

Bossons.

0 upvotes
brettmeikle
By brettmeikle (Jan 20, 2012)

Far too subjective there Bossons - much is right in the photographs used to illustrate the article - light, compostion, technical approach are all strong. The salient qualities of British Isle landscapes are subtle, and this is conveyed well (the first one is less compelling, I agree).
I'd be interested to know what one you did 'like' though.

0 upvotes
paddy tubbritt
By paddy tubbritt (Jan 20, 2012)

thanks for a very interesting article is the lighthouse in the picture hook head in wexford ireland

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

It is indeed.

0 upvotes
Snaaks
By Snaaks (Jan 20, 2012)

Thanks for this very interesting article.

0 upvotes
matreshka
By matreshka (Jan 20, 2012)

Great article, Carsten! I did not find DoF technique discussion (hyper focal distance and etc), in my mind it is also essential in landscape photography.

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Again the whole topic of focusing, which would have involved hyper focal distance, lens tilt, MF vs AF, etc.) became a victim of the limited space for the article.
However I have to admit I rarely bother too much when it comes to focusing: f22 as standard and focus point about 1/3 into the frame or work with lens tilt and check DOF on the live view - that's how I work.

0 upvotes
matreshka
By matreshka (Jan 21, 2012)

Got it, thanks. I usually follow the same approach - some 1/3 into the frame and narrow diaphragm.

0 upvotes
roseofsharon
By roseofsharon (Feb 3, 2012)

What is an L-plate?

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Thank's for all your comments.

@ oldfox1: yes it is :-) Headlands protruding from the edges of the frame however can lead to the illusion that the horizon isn't level.

@ GregVdB: I basically agree with you, the kind of equipment you use is secondary to the skill and imagination of the photographer. But you have to start somewhere and it seems common practice to start with the gear...

@ luben solev: there is always a space limit to articles like this (the original version was almost three times as long as the one published) so some things have to give. On the heads, yes geared heads are more accurate but with enough practice you can get equally good results with ball heads. And a big 'yes' to L-plates, they should be part of every landscape photographer's outfit.

0 upvotes
Footski
By Footski (Jan 20, 2012)

An excellent article with sound advise..

0 upvotes
bamsan
By bamsan (Jan 20, 2012)

"Landscape photography is an immensely time consuming endeavor. It can take weeks, months or even years before the picture is eventually made"

Now I understand why I very rarely grab stunning landscape photo.

1 upvote
oldfox1
By oldfox1 (Jan 20, 2012)

Nice photo, but the horizon is not level ;-)

1 upvote
cfh25
By cfh25 (Jan 20, 2012)

Agree - appears to have the classic Nikon 0.3 degree slope

0 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Yes it is level :-) Headlands protruding from the edges of the frame however can lead to the illusion that the horizon isn't level. And if it wouldn't be level it would be a 0.3 degree Canon slope...

1 upvote
oldfox1
By oldfox1 (Jan 20, 2012)

It is not. Make a rectangular selection along the horizon line.

This is strange because you seem to be a good outdoor photographer. And even more strange it is that you deny something that is very easy to check.

0 upvotes
Greg VdB
By Greg VdB (Jan 20, 2012)

Personally, I find the sentence "Light plays an essential role in conveying emotion in a landscape picture" the most important one in this article, and would have put it right at the beginning.

In fact, I would have put the entire last page of the article before the equipment part. Established landscape photographers can take stunning pictures with P&S cameras, whereas having all the most expensive gear does not make one a great landscape photographer. But this is DPR of course, so I can understand that most of the attention in this article went to the gear used...

Now don't get me wrong, I think this is an interesting article, I just don't like how it could lead beginners to think that the gear is the most important prerequisit to landscape (or any type of) photography. For them it is much more important to go out shooting with whatever gear they have than to sit at home counting coins until they can afford all the equipment listed in this article!

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
iudex
By iudex (Jan 20, 2012)

I definitely agree. You can have a medium format SLR and shoot crap. And another thing is the intro emphasizing expensive equipment may be discouraging to some amateur photographers, making them think they can never shoot a nice landscape with their amateur APCS camera.

1 upvote
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Jan 20, 2012)

I agree SORT OF. You don't want to give the impression that you have to use a 24mp Nikon D3x or 40mp medium-format digital camera backs to do landscapes. Once we started hitting 10-12mp in d-SLRs (some might even argue 6mp) and the dynamic range became good, then even cameras like the Nikon D3000 or D5000 that I own (to say nothing of a D7000) can definitely make great landscapes even at the 20x30 size.

That said, there is something to be said for having at least something like that as equipment, as opposed to a smartphone or a Coolplix. By all means, use what you have, even if just for PRACTICE, but if you want good landscapes "on the regular" you at least need to get in APS-C d-SLR or mirrorless territory.

1 upvote
luben solev
By luben solev (Jan 20, 2012)

I would have thought that any serious article about landscape photography that mentions tripods would mention geared heads, as they are the only way to accurately frame a photo and get a level horizon. The ball head (although the most popular due to its size and weight) is actually the least accurate for both framing and horizon leveling.

Also there is no mention of LPlates from the likes if RRS, which help keep the centre of gravity in the middle of a tripod. Yes, they are more specialised, but then I bet that many more landscape photographers employ LPlates than use LF cameras, which this article spends a lot of time on.

3 upvotes
Klarno
By Klarno (Feb 25, 2012)

Ball heads are favored in nature photography (all kinds, not just landscapes) for being fast and brain-dead simple to use.

I find that accurately level horizons, even with ultrawide lenses, may be achieved easily with a hot shoe spirit level that can be purchased for $1.50 from eBay. Assuming your hotshoe is level relative to the sensor and the bubble level is also level with respect to the hotshoe, of course.

Alternatively you can eyeball the level by using live view and a grid on the screen, or a gridded focusing screen if available for your camera.

0 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Jan 20, 2012)

Now THIS is an article I can relate to. It is amazing the leg-work and "grunt work" one has to do (researching & scouting the area) in order to be consistently excellent in this field. I can't help but laugh when I see people show up using snapshot cameras with the BUILT-IN FLASH TURNED ON for huge landscapes. Yet, at the same time, I'm nowhere near as serious or accomplished as some of the people described in this article sound.

What I like about landscape shots--you aren't dealing with fickle people. I get impatient photographing kids when they won't smile or look at the camera, or their faces are dirty YET AGAIN. It's all I can do to not yell "would you stay the [blank] still & stop squirming?!" Landscapes don't move, they're MUCH more cooperative subjects in my view.

3 upvotes
photo nuts
By photo nuts (Jan 20, 2012)

That's pretty funny. LOL

0 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Jan 20, 2012)

Yes (photo nuts), that's me. As I said in another reply, the non-photography aspects of photography don't interest me. To me, where it regards photographing children, if it comes a point that they have to be persuaded to cooperate, my motto: "that's not my job." My "job" is to know f-stops, ISO, that a 50mm 1.8 lens makes a great lens, composition, lighting, etc. Having to be a child psychologist, a salesperson, client brown-noser, hours in meetings--no thank you. I'm interested in taking & showing off the photos I've taken. That is IT. I've been known to get good photos of kids, in fact, but they are kids I KNOW & they LOVE to have their photo taken. Show me some uncooperative bratty kids, and I'm gone. That's why I've never seriously tried to earn money from this, even though people say I could. I have to ENJOY it or I want no part of it.

0 upvotes
Kitamura
By Kitamura (Jan 20, 2012)

Can't wait to get out there and start shooting. My biggest limitation is time. With a full-time job, wife, kids and dog the time just flies past. I'm sure most non-professional photographers will agree.

4 upvotes
CarstenKriegerPhotography
By CarstenKriegerPhotography (Jan 20, 2012)

Unfortunately it is a myth that if you are a pro you can go out shooting whenever you like. If you have to make a living from photography you get tied in the business side very quickly, dealing with clients, going to meetings, editing, writing, putting together portfolios and proposals, ... Sometimes weeks go by without getting a chance to even touch a camera.

3 upvotes
mseawell
By mseawell (Jan 20, 2012)

Amen! We have 3 children and although 2 are out the house trying to keep everyone happy and not neglect them while trying to get my business going is damn near impossilbe. Very frustrating sometimes for me and my wife I would suppose! Oh well!

0 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Jan 20, 2012)

What (CarstenKriegerPhotography) stated is why I've never tried to make a living of this. I want to take photos and show them off. PERIOD. That's IT. Anything else I have no interest in. I often-times even stop photographing children if they don't cooperate, maybe from the customer's standpoint working with kids to get them to smile is "part of the job," but to me--knowing f-stops, lighting, composition--THAT'S the job. Nothing else, period.

People see my photos & say to me all the time "you're good, why don't you do this for a living?" Simple: because I ENJOY it, and the minute I don't enjoy it, I'm gone. As John Mellencamp said regarding his new & VERY "radio-UNfriendly" CD "No Better Than This": "I want to do it this way, and if I can't do what I want at this point, I'm not going to do it. If it's not fun, I'm not going to do it. I'm through digging a ditch."

Exactly. (Granted, he's 60 & long-ago a millionaire, but still.) I'm a camera-guy, not a butt-kisser or child pscyhologist.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Toddles
By Toddles (Jan 20, 2012)

Same thing as a graphic artist, I don't do what i want but what the client wants. Hopefully I can add my style to it at least. Same with photography, client first. "Kitamura", maybe you can't shoot landscape but how 'bout your kids. With patience you can do real artistic photos. Landscape stuff when you can or later

0 upvotes
JPMontez
By JPMontez (Jan 20, 2012)

"With a full-time job, wife, kids and dog the time just flies past."

That's why I'm specialising in night photography! It's easier to sacrifice my sleep...;-)

0 upvotes
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