Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

3/05/2019 3:57 PM

Everyone loves a scenic shot. In Australia, we’re spoiled with some of the most stunning scenery on the planet, from the outback to tropical rainforests and rugged coastlines. With the right gear and a little know-how on your side, you can snap pictures that you’ll want to show off. To help you get there, we’ve put together our top landscape photography tips.


1. Invest in a good camera

The first step is finding the right digital camera. To take professional-looking landscape photos, we suggest a mirrorless camera. These next-gen cameras are lightweight, with electronic viewfinders that allow you to quickly adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

They have wide dynamic ranges to capture clearer landscapes with less noise, and some of them are ‘weather sealed’ - which means you can shoot in windy or rainy weather without worrying about wrecking your camera.

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

2. Choose a wide-angle lens

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

Steer clear of telephoto-length lens – anything more than 50mm won’t fit enough scenery in the frame. Wide-angle lenses open up the scene and give a greater depth of field. They also let in more light, so you can use faster shutter speeds. We recommend using anything between 16mm and 35mm depending on the scene.


Lenses are an investment, so take care of them. If you’re shooting in high humidity, keep a silica gel packet in your camera bag to draw away moisture. If you’re shooting in the snow, try putting your camera gear in a plastic bag before heading inside. Then, store it in the coldest part of the room so it can warm up slowly. And for the love of your glass, don’t change your lenses in inclement weather! If it’s raining or windy, please make sure you’re in a covered area before swapping your lenses. If dirt, sand and water make their way into your camera, that’s not covered by your warranty.

Top Tip: Upgrade your kit with a remote control. It will allow you to release the shutter without touching the camera (and running the risk of blurring the image).


3. Wait for the right light

Landscape photography is all about patience. Take Ansel Adams, for example. The legendary photographer would spend weeks at a time in the Yosemite Valley to get the perfect shot. Before setting off to your location, think about the vision you have for your photos. Would a clear, blue sky work best, or are you picturing a steely-grey sky in the background? If you’re unsure, aim for sunrise or sunset – the ‘golden hours.’

For the first hour after sunrise, and the last hour before the sun sets, the low angle of the sun helps to diffuse light, make colours pop, and create texture. On the other hand, if you shoot in the middle of a sunny day, you may end up with too much contrast in your photos, like bright highlights and dark shadows. The golden hours are short windows, so be prepared to take a bunch of photos.

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

Some locations are better suited to sunrise or sunset, depending on the direction they face. For example, in Melbourne, St Kilda is a great spot to shoot the sunset looking west as it sets over the water, while Williamstown is our go-to spot for sunrise photos. In Sydney, Coogee Beach is most photogenic at sunrise, while the Sydney Harbour Bridge is better for sunset shots.

Top Tip: Use the Lightrac app to find out which direction the sun rises and sets and plan the best possible photos.


4. Take advantage of a tripod

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

sturdy tripod is one of the landscape photography equipment essentials. It ensures your horizon is level and frees up your hands, so you can consider the scene from a few vantage points. Landscapes and light are constantly changing, and a tripod can help you to experiment with shooting from different angles, like up, across or down. It leaves a lot less to chance when it comes to composition.

If you’re chasing the golden hours, you’ll most likely be working in low light. By setting your digital camera on a tripod, you’ll eliminate camera shake to take clear, sharp images – which is harder to do with a handheld camera.


Top Tip: Choose a lightweight tripod that’s easy to carry to your scenes.


5. Experiment with exposure

The key to exposure is letting the right amount of light into the sensor. Overexposed images are too bright, and underexposed images are too dark.

Most of the time, Aperture Priority (A or AV on most cameras) works well for landscape photography. That being said, the beauty of landscape photography lies in experimenting. We suggest shooting in manual mode, so you can control the settings of your camera.

The pillars of landscape photography are ISO, shutter speed and aperture.

- ISO 

Light can make or break your landscape photos. The ISO is a number that adjusts your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive it is to light, and vice versa. For landscape photography, stick with the base ISO – which is between 100 and 200. This will help you to create a cleaner image, with minimal noise or ‘grain.’ Only boost the ISO if you need to increase the shutter speed while you’re handholding the camera.

- Aperture

The aperture impacts the brightness and depth of the image. Also known as the f/stops, it describes the size of the lens opening. For landscape photography, you want a larger depth of field to keep the scene in focus. To achieve this, set the aperture to a larger number, such as f/13, f/16 or f/22.

- Shutter Speed

Finally, the shutter speed refers to the amount of time the lens is open. A slow shutter speed means the lens is open for longer. It’ll capture movement, including any movement made by the photographer. To avoid blurriness, use a tripod. On the other hand, quicker shutter speeds allow you to snap fast-moving subjects. You don’t need a tripod, because the shutter is only open for a short time.

 

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

6. Be careful with composition

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

Composition can be the difference between an interesting, dynamic shot and a run-of-the-mill snap. To compose balanced photos, build your scene around the horizon using the Rule of Thirds. Divide your frame up into thirds horizontally and vertically, so you end up with four lines (or nine squares). Many digital cameras display a grid on the viewfinder and/or back screen, so you can use that – though it’s a good idea to get used to doing it on your own. The eye is drawn to the point where the lines intersect, so that’s where you should place your subject.

With landscapes, the subject could be a fence leading into the distance, a mountain peak, or a house on the hill. By positioning this point of interest on or near the lines, you’ll end up with a better shot than you would if you put it bang in the middle of the frame.

 

Top Tip: Try a vertical orientation! Vertical shots can work just as well, especially if you want to include more of the foreground in your scene.


7. Make the most of photographic filters

Enhance your photos by adding filters to your camera. They’re inexpensive accessories that can take your landscape photos to the next level. Polarising filters bring out the blue in the sky and contrast it to the white of the clouds.

Neutral density (ND) filters prevent too much light from entering the lens, and let you control the shutter speed and exposure time. They’re like a pair of sunglasses for your camera, and are most useful on bright, sunny days when a slow shutter speed won’t work.

Tips For Taking Breathtaking Landscape Photos With A Camera

Want to learn more about landscape photography?

Landscape photography is incredibly popular - and for good reason! The options are endless. You can play around with perspectives, angles and techniques, and capture the same scene in new light for a completely different result. If you’re ready to take your landscape photos to the next level, pop into your local Ted’s Cameras store to chat with our experts. They’ll be happy to answer any questions you have and guide you in choosing the right gear.


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