Everyone has an opinion on how to shoot landscapes. But the thing is, there is a secret to producing winning landscape photography with wow factor. Follow the 8 simple steps below and you’ll get a top-notch shot every time you go out.
Perfect this landscape photography technique and then you can start to add your own creative twists to it to start producing really amazing landscapes! Here’s how it’s done…
1 Set quality to Raw+JPEG
Set your camera to shoot in raw and JPEG, if available. If you get the exposure spot-on in camera, a JPEG is fine, but if you need to tweak it in Photoshop a raw file is more forgiving. It also contains more tonal and colour information, especially in wide areas of colour, such as skies.
2 Use ISO 100/200
Set your camera to the lowest ISO setting available in the ISO menu (ie, without having to select the Extended ISO option). For most cameras, this will be ISO 100, but it may be ISO 200. Low ISOs are essential for ensuring rich, noise-free landscapes (find out when to increase ISO).
3 Shoot at f/16 in A/AV
The smaller the aperture (the higher the f-number), the greater the depth of field. That said, avoid going any smaller than f/16, as very small apertures can lead to slightly soft shots. To set it, select Aperture Priority (A/Av) mode, and dial in the aperture (find out more about when to use a small vs wide aperture).
4 Use a sturdy tripod
Once your camera’s all set up, pop it on a tripod (learn how to use a tripod a the right way). Extend the thickest parts of the legs first and make sure the feet are firmly placed. Set Mirror Lock-up to reduce the risk of ‘mirror slap’ shaking the camera; and lastly, attach a remote shutter release (or set the self-timer).
5 Compose off-centre
Some shots work with the subject in the middle of the frame, but usually you’ll get a more balanced shot if the subject is off-centre. When composing images, place key elements on ‘thirds’ in the frame (find out more about how to use – and break – the Rule of Thirds). Also look for leading lines and foreground objects to add depth.
6 Focus a third in
Focus a third of the way into the scene to maximise depth of field (learn more about how to use depth of field). If one of your focus points sits over the edge you want to focus on, use it to autofocus. If not, select the nearest point, autofocus using that point, and then switch your lens to manual to lock the focus.
7 Take a test shot
Take a test shot and then check the histogram graph (learn how to read a histogram). The graph should be roughly in the middle for ‘midtone’ scenes, over to the left for dark scenes, and over to the right for brighter scenes. In all cases it’s important that the graph isn’t cut off or clipped at either end.
8 Adjust the exposure
If you think you need to ‘shift’ the histogram left or right, press and hold the +/- button and use the dial to adjust the Exposure Compensation (check out our free photography cheat sheet on exposure compensation). Set it to -1 to shift it left (ie, darken the exposure) or +1 to shift it right (ie, lighten it). Take another test shot and check it again.
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