A Beginners Guide to Landscape Photography

Local photographer Dave Dodge gives us some expert advice on landscape photography.

Now that Christmas has been and gone, if you got a new camera as a present, here are some useful tips for getting the best results…….

Alcove and headland

You’re out for a walk in the New Forest and discover an amazing scene. You get your new camera out and take a few pictures to capture some stunning landscape photography. However, when you get home and open the images on your computer, the magic is has disappeared. The scene that took your breath away is lacklustre in pixels.

How come ? How do the pros manage to get images that are as stunning as being there ? Capturing beautiful images isn’t simple. But with a tips, you can help bring some of that view home with you.

Using Natural Light

The human eye has an amazing ability to adapt to different levels of light, to take in an entire scene, even when this is lots of contrast. A camera can’t to do this. While there are many ways to fight tough light, the easiest way that also gets the some of the best results, is to wait for the right light. A bright sunny day creates
lots of contrast in a scene, causing bright highlights and dark shadows. Early morning and late afternoon have less contrast and a beautiful warm glow. If it’s cloudy, you probably won’t have to wait as the clouds will filter out the sunlight for soft, even light.

Try using a Tripod

A tripod is an essential tool for getting sharp shots, and that’s a important in landscape photography. A good tripod will eliminate camera shake for sharper shots than shooting handheld, even at faster shutter speeds. Many great landscape photos utilise longer shutter speeds to blur waves and clouds. A tripod is essential for long shutter speed to get such images as light trails and milky river water. Choose a sturdy tripod that’s lightweight for carrying out to all those spectacular landscapes.

Pier shot

Choose Where to Place the Horizon

Often beginners will just point the camera at the part of a scene that inspiresthem the most. There’s nothing wrong with photographing what inspires you, but try and make your composition a little more deliberate. Think about where to place the horizon in the image, instead of automatically putting it dead centre. What is the most interesting part of the scene ? If it’s the landscape, try putting the horizon on the upper third. If it’s the an amazing sky, then try placing the horizon on the lower third to capture more of the sky in the shot.

Use Lens Filters

Don’t shoot naked, adding a filter to your camera makes a big difference in landscape photography. Filters are inexpensive accessories that can make a massive difference in landscape photos.

A polarizing filter will allow you to control just how blue the sky appears.

A graduated neutral density filter will prevent you from overexposing the sky, keeping all the details intact instead of blowing a beautiful sky out to a white blob.

Neutral Density Filters enable you to take long exposures without overexposing images, even during the day. These are particularly good for blurring moving clouds and milky water.

Shoot in RAW

Changing to RAW is a simple change inside the image quality options in your camera menu. However simple, it makes a big difference. RAW files give you more flexibility when editing. It can make a dramatic difference in your final images. By using RAW editor, you can use a graduated digital filter or even brush adjustments over just a part of a photo. RAW files are larger, but that’s because they give you more data to work with when editing.

Abstract Landscape

Try a Long Exposure

Using a long shutter speed is a great for capturing many landscape scenes. With a long shutter speed, the waves and rivers will turn to a smooth white and moving clouds will turn blurry and wispy. Long exposures help to create a sense of motion, even in a still scene. It’s also a very effective tool for landscapes. To shoot a long exposure, set your camera up on a tripod. Use shutter priority mode or manual mode to choose a longer shutter speed. Just how long will depend on your subject. Start with a 30 second exposure and then experiment with lengths of time. If your image is too bright, you’ll need to add a neutral density filter.

Lastly, enjoy exploring new places to try out these techniques……….

To find out more about Dave and his business Dave Dodge Photography, head over to his website or follow him on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.