Don’t get stuck in a positional rut, move around to fine-tune your landscape compositions
A good tip for landscapes is not to rush into shooting on arrival at a location. Look closely at the foreground detail available and for potential lead-in lines, to make interesting compositions. By arriving on location with time to spare you can allow yourself the luxury of finding the best angles and details, resulting in much better images.
A good tip for landscapes is not to rush into shooting on arrival at a location
Looking closely at the foreground detail available and for potential lead-in lines will make for an interesting composition, and result in a better image. In the shot below, by shifting position to the left I was able to get an improved angle with the brook showing more cloud reflections while keeping the rock in the foreground.
Arrive early, give yourself time to explore, place your tripod roughly in position and then take time to move around looking through the viewfinder. Try finding a better position, change focal lengths, heights and angles. Once you‘ve found a spot you‘re happy with, place the camera on the tripod and take test shots to fine-tune your position.
For landscape shots, use a tripod and remote release with mirror lock-up enabled to reduce camera shake; use graduated filters to retain sky detail; choose the lowest ISO available to reduce noise; and set white balance manually for consistency.
I find spot or centre-weighted metering works best - I spot meter off a bright part of the image, check the histogram and adjust settings manually to improve tonal range. To maximise depth of field, I use a high F-number. Autofocus /3 into the frame and then switch to manual focus - this prevents the autofocus from hunting in falling light.
Once everything is set up, take numerous shots as the light fades and warms up; be prepared to react to changes in the scene, moving again if needed. Above all, stick around until the light has faded completely.
I recommend anyone to shoot RAW images wherever possible because the increased detail and processing flexibility makes a real difference to the finished image.
RAW isn‘t an excuse for being lazy in the field – RAW images should be as good in-camera as you can make them; RAW‘s main benefit is the increased detail and the option to decide what image processing is undertaken.
Having opened the RAW file and made any adjustments necessary I save as a TIFF file in PSE5, then (in order) I apply contrast between +3 and +6; boost the colour Hue/Saturation, usually in the Red, Green and Blue channels individually; apply any Levels adjustment that boosts the image; and finally reduce noise and sharpen. I save the TIFF file at this point, retaining Layers so that I can go back to it at a later point.