Love Those Landscapes

Photographer Bruce Kirkby blogs about tips and tools to capture professional-looking landscape photos

My blog so far as covered tips that have been simple and generic, aimed at casual digital camera users. This month I am going to delve into some slightly more technical aspects and, in the process, give you all the tools you need to capture professional-looking landscape images.

Tripod: If you want to shoot great landscapes, buy and use a tripod. More than anything, this will slow you down and force you to consider composition and camera settings. It will also allow for slower shutter speeds, which provide far greater depths-of-field.

Composition: Consider foreground as well as background. The tendency is to think of only the spectacular and distant wilderness scene. While foreground clutter should be removed by careful positioning, a few nearby wildflowers at the bottom of the frame, or a weathered tree, will add dramatically to the image.

Time of day: Landscapes will look better just after sunrise, or just before sunset. If you are serious, return and shoot then.

F-Stop: If possible, shoot your landscape images on the camera’s “Manual” setting. Set the aperture to the smallest opening possible (biggest number, usually f/22), then balance the meter by adjusting shutter speed. This will give the greatest depth-of-field.

Focus on the foreground: Your “cranked-up” depth-of-field will help capture the background clearly.

Graduated neutral density filters: These filters—which selectively alter exposure over parts of the frame—are the key to capturing truly stunning landscapes, balancing both foreground and background exposure. International photographer Galen Rowell was the champion of their use, so learn the tricks of using them on his website.

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