Landscape photography is challenging to put it mildly.
Ansel Adams said; “ Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.”
Getting depth and life in landscape photography is extremely difficult. There are a number of components involved in instilling the perception of life in a scene where there is no motion.
I am not going to get too deeply into composition of pictures here. I will do that a little more on the rule of thirds page. The Rule of Thirds definitely applies to landscape photography.
Much of that information is also applicable to still subjects and especially landscapes. But, for landscapes and certain other types of pictures there are more considerations.
You want more of what you see in your view finder to be in perfect focus. And you want more of what you see in your view finder to be properly exposed.
This is due to multiple subjects in a single shot. Here I have a foreground subject and a background subject. There may be more than just two.
This is actually a landscape picture. I have two subjects. The man in the foreground and the harbor in the background. For this picture I chose to have the man slightly out of focus and the harbor in focus. I also chose to have the man almost silhouetted.
On the other hand, when you have only one subject you want that subject crisp and clear while the rest of the picture is blurred out. This keeps the background from becoming a distraction in the picture.
So - - -landscapes are different.
They typically have multiple subjects. Some of those subjects will be in the foreground, others further back. This means you want a longer depth of field than when you have just one subject.
You can click on the above blue lettering for a complete explanation of depth of field or you can just know that a higher f-stop number will keep foreground objects in focus as well as background objects. You will have the over all focus you need for a good landscape shot.
In order to get a higher f-stop, on your camera, find the setting called "Aperture Priority." It will generally be designated with the letter "A" in your settings. Now turn the wheel and set it to f-8 or higher.
The camera will automatically make the other necessary adjustments to maintain the right exposure. With a higher f-stop you will, by default, have a slower shutter speed.
You can increase your film speed to help compensate but that lowers the quality of the finish picture. Nope, the answer I found for shooting pictures like this is - - - It’s time to mount your camera on a tripod.
Near and far this had to be in focus. You accomplish that with a high f-stop which in turn necessitates a slow shutter speed. All that adds up to the need for a tripod.
Always remember to have something in the foreground as a subject. A foreground subject, like a tree branch or a person.
The contrast between the foreground subject and the background gives depth and dimension to your photograph. It is also a major contributor to showing the immense size of mountains and the like.
The foreground subject is a major way of adding the perception of life to photos that have no motion.
This road on the right comes to a vanishing point in the distance. It helps show how far the mountains are away from us. As does the shrub, relative to the buildings in the center of the photo.
In this picture there are several "layers." The closest is the greenery in the foreground. The shorter shrubs and then the field of crops comprise the first layer.
Behind the crops lies the mud wall and the buildings. Then foliage free cliffs. Finally the mountain peaks reach all the way up into the clouds.
With how clear the air is up at that altitude the photo prints very nicely. This would make a nice addition to a vacation album or framed and placed in your gallery.
With a tripod you can use a high f-stop, a slow film speed and a slow shutter speed. This way you will get maximum quality in the final print. The other variable to consider is your picture’s composition.
More times than with other types of pictures, it seems, people want to enlarge landscape shots. By using a tripod and all the proper settings for the best quality possible you can achieve this goal.
One more thing the tripod does is it allows you to compose your picture exactly as you choose. You can level the camera and zoom to the exact composition you want.
You can shoot a picture, then slightly change the composition, like zoom in or zoom out, and do it all again. You can do this as many times as you like.
Mounted on a tripod you can turn the camera side to side and end up with a panoramic set of shots or even a complete 360 degree series from one place.
You can also take shots of the same composition with different exposures. This helps when you are deciding which exposure you like best. It is called bracketing. You will normally do this in manual mode.
It is hard to get great landscape shots because of all the components contained in the photograph. Take some notes or print out this page.
Then pull out and dust off the old tripod. Go out into the field and get some landscape shots. I just bet you can find one you want to frame.
One final thought on landscapes; if you are considering becoming a genuine landscape photographer don't even consider any of the cameras I have spoken of on my site. At minimum you will need a medium format camera. They get quite expensive. A large format is much better and can be extremely expensive; never the less, a necessary tool.
On the bright side of it all, an older camera will be a very wise investment. The older cameras perform just as well for crystal clear large photos as the new digital cameras. If you are considering that route visit Ken Rockwell's site. He has good information on 4X5 cameras here.
Go to my Home Page. My sitemap is here.