Breaking bad habits: how to add variety to your landscape photography portfolio

Breaking bad habits: how to add variety to your landscape portfolio

Do you enjoy taking landscape images but find you mostly use similar settings for all of my shots? In our latest Professional Photographer to the Rescue post our technique editor and professional photographer, Chris Rutter, meets our apprentice Jenny Wade to help her experiment with long shutter speeds and shallow depth of field and create images that add variety to here landscape photography portfolio, which she admits is getting a little samey.

Jenny says she has struggled to use these settings and get correctly exposed results. Chris will show her how to do all of this and more with her Sony A700?

Breaking bad habits: how to add variety to your landscape portfolio

Breaking bad habits

Using the same ‘middle of the road’ aperture setting such as f/11 or f/16 for landscape shots is an easy habit to fall into.

But this can mean you end up with simple record shots, rather than interesting photos.

Using wider apertures, and shallow depth of field is more commonly associated with portraits rather than landscapes, but choosing a wide aperture and a longer focal length can be effective when shooting strong foreground subjects, such as rocks or water.

The other option for adding blur to your landscape is to use long shutter speeds. This is easy enough if you shoot in low light at sunrise or sunset.

For brighter conditions though, there is too much light to get correctly exposed results and use long shutter speeds, without reducing the light reaching the camera’s sensor.

How to add variety to your landscape portfolio: technique assessment

Technique assessment

Like many people, Jenny struggles to find the time to get out to shoot landscapes at sunset, let alone sunrise, but still wants to experiment with different shutter speeds and apertures to add a creative element to her shots.

By her own admission, Jenny doesn’t use her tripod very often, which has meant that the 
range of subjects, apertures and shutter speeds she uses is limited by her ability to hold the camera steady.

This is obvious in some of her shots taken in darker lighting conditions, which aren’t sharp due to camera shake.

Shooting during the middle of the day has also limited Jenny’s options, as the bright conditions mean that she has had to use fast shutter speeds, even at the smallest aperture, to get correctly exposed results.

I meet up with Jenny close to Bristol, armed with some neutral density filters, to help her to experiment with different apertures and shutter speeds to add interest to her landscape images.

How to add variety to your landscape portfolio: Jenny's previous attempts  How to add variety to your landscape portfolio: Jenny's previous attempts

Jenny’s previous attempts
The majority of Jenny’s landscapes have been shot during the middle of the day. This inevitably means that she hasn’t been able to experiment with using different shutter speeds to add blur and movement to her shots, so they are rather static and lacking in creativity.

PAGE 1: Breaking bad landscape photography habits
PAGE 2: Getting the right exposure
PAGE 3: Exploring shallow depth of field
PAGE 4: Experiment with shoot long exposures
PAGE 5: Three filters for shooting at slower shutter speeds
PAGE 6: Shot of the Day


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