Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

Started Jun 8, 2009 | Discussions
RaffiNYC Regular Member • Posts: 129
Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

I just picked up my first DSLR (Canon Rebel 450D EOS Xsi). I understand the basics of shutter speed, aperture, etc, but I am missing the skills on how to put it all together. I can't find any good websites with good info on how to take landscape photos.

Please let me know if you know of any sites that have good info on this subject. Thanks
SAF

123Michael321 Regular Member • Posts: 176
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

Not a recommendation to a website, but I can provide a few tips that might help you get started, particularly as you indicate you already have a good understanding of the fundamentals of proper shutter speed, aperture, etc. -

Tip #1 - When photographing landscapes, resist the temptation to zoom down as wide as your lens will go, for a shot that will "include everything." By getting everything in the picture, each detail is so small as to be insignificant. Fact is, while such all encompassing photos have their place, much of the time you're better off choosing one or two points of specific interest, and concentrating on them.

Tip #2 - Landscapes needn't be shot as horizontals. Try framing a few shots as verticals. (I particularly like shooting verticals if I'm going to be stitching together multiple shots into a panorama.)

Tip #3 - The tripod is your friend. Even if you could shoot handheld at high enough speed for razor sharp results, a tripod can still be a highly useful aid to careful composition, getting horizons level, keeping the camera aimed at precisely the same place while you vary shutter speed, aperture, etc. Also, it's easier on the arms than holding a camera up to your eye for half an hour.

Tip #4 - I don't care if you don't live in a pristine valley between majestic snow-capped mountains - No matter where you are, there are opportunities for landscape photography.

Tip #5 - It's not cheating to study what the masters have done, and adapt some of their techniques, preferences, tools, etc., to your own vision. Students of painting study how Rembrandt did things. Students of the piano study how Bach did things. Similarly, students of photography would be wise to study how the great photographers did things. But most don't.

Tip #6 - Midday light is often the worst light. Early morning and early evening light is often the best light.

Tip #7 - Equipment matters. It can even matter a lot. But it seldom matters as much as all too many people seem to think it does. I'd like to own the finest cameras and tens of thousands of dollars of top quality lenses, but if all I've got is an $89 p&s, I know I can still get outstanding results. (Michael's Corollary to Rule #7 - Owning a $6000 camera and a dozen expensive lenses doesn't mean someone's a great photographer, nor does the absence of impressive gear mean someone lacks talent as a photographer. Don't go judging people by the contents of their camera bags.)

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Michael

Craig Gillette Forum Pro • Posts: 11,379
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

These may help:

http://digital-photography-school.com/4-rules-of-composition-for-landscape-photography

http://www.chicagonature.com/article-a-sense-of-depth.shtml

A search on Google on terms like landscape composition or similar terms should bring up more.

JudyTee Contributing Member • Posts: 564
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

Michael, You gave really good, sound, well thought out advice. That is rare on most forums where many people just toss off a few quick opinions. You obviously know your stuff. Do you teach art or photography?
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Judy

enikkor Regular Member • Posts: 116
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...
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A lot of patience

--look at different angles for a shot

--enjoy yourself.

--know where the light is coming from.

iMac, therefore iAm Veteran Member • Posts: 8,471
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

123Michael321 wrote:

Tip #6 - Midday light is often the worst light. Early morning and
early evening light is often the best light.

Some great advice, but I would like to elaborate on this. Every setting has one particular time of day that it is best shot at. Usually that is early morning or early evening, but depending on the subject it can be pretty much any time - ie a spot deep in a valley that doesn't get morning or evening golden light, might very well be best shot during mid day. And some settings pretty much need cloudy conditions for effective images.

OP RaffiNYC Regular Member • Posts: 129
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...
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Great, thanks for the info,

OP RaffiNYC Regular Member • Posts: 129
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...
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I'm thinking about picking up this book. It looks decent.

The Digital SLR Expert Landscapes...

http://www.amazon.com/Digital-SLR-Expert-Landscapes/dp/0715329405/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1244480619&sr=1-1

123Michael321 Regular Member • Posts: 176
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

Thanks for the praise, JudyTee; with me, flattery will get you wherever you want to go.

I don't teach photography, although a few years ago I did take over the final six weeks of an Into to Photo class, when the instructor (an acquaintance of mine) had to bow out for medical reasons. Mostly, I've just had a keen interest in photography since the days when Windows wasn't even a gleam in Bill Gates' eye, and "digital" meant "using your fingers."

For the most part, I have only limited interest in the gear aspects of photography, and typically care much more about an exhibit of the photographs of Alfred Stieglitz at a local museum, or a new book on Walker Evans work with the WPA Artists Project, than I am about news that Canon may be adopting a new DIGIC engine, or that Nikon is introducing a new lens with 3% higher resolution than its predecessor.

I mean, I follow the hardware issues well enough that I can choose equipment without being completely lost, and I can even use Photoshop CS3 with reasonable skill. It's just that...if I follow the Tour de France, I'm mostly interested in the race, and not so much in the bicycles the athletes are riding.

The forums here are, in many cases, very much hardware-oriented. Which is fine, and a perfectly valid perspective. But it's not my preferred perspective. At least, not all the time it isn't. So maybe that's why sometimes I'll toss out a reply that differs somewhat from most of the others.
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Michael

JudyTee Contributing Member • Posts: 564
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

Michael, Thank you for your kind words. I certainly do not want us to "highjack" this thread, but I must say, openly, that we seem to share a similar philosophy of photography. Yes, there is much too much emphasis upon equipment and technique - all important matters, of course - but too little emphasis upon the much broader aspects of photos that have a broad and lasting appeal. On the other hand, anyone should be free to produce whatever photo they wish without being condemned for using that freedom.

I suspected that you had some experience with teaching photography. I teach art at a small college. About a year ago, I developed a separate course for students interested in entering photography. Entitled "Basic Optics and Fundamentals of Photography," the course provides a firm foundation upon which any well-motivated newcomer may build. Without a firm grounding in the basics, a "newbie" will be condemned to floundering around in a sea of confusion, misinformation and disappointment. Thanks again for your useful input.
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Judy

jchoate Senior Member • Posts: 1,437
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

Let me add a couple things to Michael's list. When using a tripod, it often is helpful to set mirror lockup and use a remote shutter release. Ideally, include a point of interest in the foreground, something to catch the eye in the midground, and something leading toward the background. Such situations are difficult to find. For examples of marvelous landscapes, do a search for photos by Citylights.

Jerry
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http://jchoate.zenfolio.com/

timo Veteran Member • Posts: 5,748
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

RaffiNYC wrote:

I just picked up my first DSLR (Canon Rebel 450D EOS Xsi). I
understand the basics of shutter speed, aperture, etc, but I am
missing the skills on how to put it all together. I can't find any
good websites with good info on how to take landscape photos.

Please let me know if you know of any sites that have good info on
this subject. Thanks
SAF

One tip based on experience - if you are using a wide-angle lens, remember that it will be 'wide' vertically as well as horizontally. While being very excited about getting so much of a broad landscape into the frame, it's easy to forget the foreground, and many wide-angle shots suffer from a compositional vacuum in the lower and central part of the shot. Wide-angle lenses place emphasis on the foreground, which can be a bit counter-intuitive at first. Many people grab a wide-angle lens for landscape photography, but they are quite tricky to use effectively.
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tim

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mike703 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,708
Re: Looking for info on taking great landscape photos...

I saw a stunning series of landscapes on the 'samples and galleries' forum a while back and asked the poster how he got his pix to look so good. The laconic answer came back: 'good glass and a tripod'.

Landscapes are particularly unforgiving of minor lack of sharpness as they are the sort of picture that people like to peer at close up to see the distant detail. So a tiny degree of camera shake might be the limiting factor in image quality. Hence, as good a lens as possible and a tripod.

Best wishes
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Mike

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