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Author Topic: Article: 7 Tips for Shooting Great Landscape Photo  (Read 4347 times)
Jonathan Wienke
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« on: May 12, 2005, 12:41:18 PM »
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A few comments:

3: The only filters that are really useful when shooting digital are a polarizer and ND (when you want really slow shutter speeds). ND grads are useless when the transition between the bright and dark areas of the subject is not a straight line, which is almost 100% of the time. You're far better off shooting a bracketed series from a tripod and blending in PS than using an ND grad in the majority of cases.

5: I use the 70-200/2.8L IS as my primary landscape lens. For wide angle subjects, I stitch multiple shots together, and the IS works wonderfully to eliminate vibration from wind.

7: Shooting during midday can yield some rewarding images:



And this one was shot around noon during a rainstorm:
Large Image

If you keep your eyes open, you can find something worth shooting almost any time or anywhere.
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2005, 08:36:34 PM »
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#5 depends on the landscape.    If I'm running around local parks I usually want serious wide angle.  If I'm up on the north shore a telephoto is better.  (The places MR goes in the VJ's are a wee bit more grand than what I get to see.  Damned flat state.)
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Lisa Nikodym
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2005, 12:45:05 PM »
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Becky:

There are several things that could be causing the softness. My best guesses from your limited information are:

(1) Camera motion while you're taking the picture - are you sure you're using a short enough exposure to avoid camera movement, especially at the 300 mm end of your lens?  (Which should be, by the standard rule of thumb, no more than 1/300 sec for a hand-held shot at 300 mm.)

(2)  The lens quality.  The Nikon 70-300 G lens is not a particularly good lens.  If you want to find out if this is the issue, you can try borrowing or renting a more expensive lens, try it on your camera under conditions where you tend to see the undesirable softness, and compare.  Bjorn Rorslett's web site has good concise reviews of Nikon lenses at:
http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html

Neither of these issues (nor any softness-related issues I can think of) will be affected by bracketing; that's not the solution.

I also have a D70, and never use manual focus (except at infinity in very special circumstances, such as IR photography) because the viewfinder is too small and dark for me (with my bad eyes) to feel that I can tell whether it's in focus or not.  If you're seeing softness sometimes but not others, and think the focus might have something to do with it, you can do an experiment where you take one image with auto focus, and one with manual focus; repeat under various conditions (lighting, subject, etc.), keep track of which is which, and compare the results afterward to see if one is clearly better than the other.

Lisa
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gary_hendricks
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2005, 09:03:43 AM »
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Here is an article I published on my website about landscape photography. I hope it'll be useful to some of you in this forum.

Article: 7 Tips for Shooting Great Landscape Photos
by Gary Hendricks


Are you a fan of landscape photos? Landscapes are a lot of fun to take - from pictures of mountains and rivers to peaceful shots of the setting sun. Whenever I’m on vacation, I always try to look for creative ways to shoot the landscape. Better yet, if you have the time and means, landscapes give you an opportunity to stitch pictures together to create a panorama. So let’s take a look at some tips for shooting landscape photos.
 

A landscape photo of waves crashing against the shore

Tip 1: Bring a Tripod
Always bring a tripod if you plan on shooting landscapes. Even if the day is sunny, you may need to use a small aperture to achieve a great depth of field. In such cases, you may be using a low shutter speed – which leads to camera shake if you can’t hold the camera stable in your hands. Hence the need for a tripod. If you need a good travel tripod, I recommend the Vanguard Tourist-2 – I’ve used it for years and it functions very well.
 
Tip 2: Cable Release
One good tip is to carry a cable release. Instead of using the timer function on the camera, use the cable release. This ensures that you can trigger the shutter at precisely the right timing. In turn, this leads to reduced camera shake and a more beautiful photo.

Tip 3: Use the Right Filters
Filters are important when taking landscape photos. There are different types of filters that I use – polarizers, neutral density filters and graduated neutral density filters.

Polarizers are useful for reducing glare from water and other reflective surfaces. These create a more well-balanced and beautiful picture.

Neutral density filters will stop a specified amount of light entering the camera. I tend to use these for shooting waterfalls on a sunny day.

Graduated neutral density filters are a slight variation of this – they are dark on top and clear on the bottom, creating a ‘gradual transition’ from the dark to clear area. These filters are good for blocking out bright parts of a scene (say the sky) to create a more evenly exposed picture.
 
Tip 4: Research the Landscape
One thing to do before taking landscape photos is to do some background research on the landscape. If you’re taking pictures of the Nigara Falls, or the Grand Canyon, try to do some background study on what the most scenic spots are.

It’s also good to check out the weather conditions of the place. Check up the papers – if the weather doesn’t look good, you may want to try shooting another day.
 
Tip 5: Lenses
For shooting landscape photos, it’s usually best to bring wide-angle lenses. I also bring along a telephoto lens in case I want to shot some creative, zoomed-in shots.
 
Tip 6: Composition
Another thing to remember is that composition rules are still important in landscape photos. Make sure you have something in the foreground, mid-ground and background.
 
Tip 7: Shoot at the Right Time
For landscape photography, one thing I realize is that you should avoid shooting during mid-day. There is a lot of harsh lighting and bad shadow effects during that period. Early morning or late afternoon tends to be best.

Conclusion
As you can see, landscape photography poses its own challenges. However, bear the above tips in mind the next time you’re taking these photos, and I’m sure you’ll be much happier with your prints!
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2005, 02:44:00 PM »
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I've considered the merits of cable release vs MLU and timed delay and landed on MLU & 2 sec delay.  I figure if a cable release is going to make a difference then so will MLU... (although I grind my teeth at the buttons I have to push to get all that happening on a 1DII.)  

I suspect that the value you get out of cable release can be closely approximated by a good ballhead/plate combo.  My first digital camera and tripod/head (all cheap) were exceptionally softly connected and pressing the shutter resulted in significant movement - the Markins M10 RRS L and Gitzo 1228 tripod give me a pretty stable mount.
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becwith@verizon.net
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2005, 10:51:00 AM »
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Hi, I am a bit inexperienced with photography. I enjoy capturing landscapes. I am using a Nikon D-70 with an AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6G. I just got my zoom. Some of my landscapes are too soft. There are so many things to be aware of! - and I turn off the automatic focus sometimes. If I use the tripod & turn off my AF, how can I be sure my image is in focus. It always looks in focus through the viewfinder. I am trying bracketing. Is this the answer?
Becky
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akclimber
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2005, 03:19:27 PM »
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A few further thoughts:

1) It's often helpful to have something of interest in the foreground of the shot.

2) Generally try and avoid full on frontal, direct lighting.  Try capturing a scene that's lit by angled lighting.  This creates shadows and textures which bring out the features of the landscape.

3) With my 1.6 crop DSLR, I try and avoid using wide angle lenses for landscapes since I can't capture enough detail to print the images as large as I generally think landscapes deserve.  Aside from times I *need* to go wide (when I'll use a Sigma 20 f/1.8 or 17-35 f/2.8 L), my favorite landscape lenses are my 50, 180, 300 and 500.  I use theses either to produce "intimate" landscapes consisting of one image or to produce highly detailed, stitched images for panos.

Examples:  10D + 500 f/4 IS, single image (will print at 300 dpi at 10 x 15)



10D + 500 , multiple, stitched images (original could be printed at 300dpi at over 3 feet long with great detail)



 10D + 17-35, one image (but can only be printed at 300dpi at about 10-12 inches long)



10D + 20 f/1.8, multiple, stitched images (prints out at 29 x 9 at 300 dpi)



4) Don't forget that it's easy to make multiple exposures of the scene and blend them in order to extend the dynamic range of the image.

CHeers!
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