I love to shoot landscapes, and from my experience of being a self taught photographer, i learnt a few things the hard way. Here goes my top 7 tips for photographing magical landscapes.
1. Research – The first thing that comes to people’s mind when thinking about landscape photography, is great vistas and shooting them in good light. By good light i mean the “magic hour” (1 hour before sunrise and 1 hour after sunset). Though this is quintessentially the best time to shoot, before even going out for the shoot, one must conduct a thorough research about the place, its weather conditions, the time of sunrise, sunset and also the direction from which the sun is going to rise or set. I always make sure that i do my research up to the tiniest of details. I would go to 500px.com and look at the great images that have been created. Inspiration is a major part of being able to make jaw dropping images. Knowing about the weather is crucial, because we might be standing in front of a great scene, but that morning, the sun, sadly may not show its face, and we would be utterly disappointed to get something of a dab photograph. Doing my research properly, i knew that i would get nice storm clouds up in Assam. That was the way i had planned my trip, and was able to make this image.
2. Getting up early and staying up late – Think of it this way, have we ever looked at the afternoon sky and said to ourselves, ‘wow such a lovely sky’. If we haven’t done that, then chances are that landscape photographs taken in the afternoon will not be as flattering. The best light, or the magical light normally occurs during dawn and dusk and beyond that for an hour or so. So get out of that cozy bed, grab a cup of coffee and get out and make your photograph.
“A good photograph will never come to you, you need to go out and make one”
3. Shoot abstract – Break from the ordinary and shoot the landscape in a unique manner. I always make it a point to create abstract images of the landscape, because, one it helps me grow as a photographer and also it is more pleasing than creating images that have been made to death by billions of other photographers.
In the shot below, i noticed a peculiar similarity between the two sets of clouds, in that they were travelling quite parallel to each other. Zooming in on the hill i got this abstract image, even though i had a vista waiting just in front of me to be shot.
Another shot which i loved creating is the abstract cloud shot, Instead of the whole cloudscape, i concentrated on a particular part, just beyond which the sun was hidden.
4.Include foreground – Foreground objects in an image gives us a sense of scale, and makes the image all the more dynamic. It helps us to travel through the image. Foregrounds can vary from from flowers, to rocks on the banks of a river. Getting down low, will help us to use the foreground elements in our images in a much stronger way.
The tree gives the viewer a good place to rest his eyes and wander around the photograph.
5. Adding a human element – I have always been of the group of people who think that adding a human element to the landscape enhances the photograph and add’s an extra bit of life, and dimension to the image.
Walking All Alone
The human touch brings life to the photograph.
6. Shooting in raw – This for me has been my mantra for getting the details back from parts of the images which otherwise would have been unusable. The amount of recovery that we can do using this format is unbelievable and one needs to try this to believe it. “Raw for me”
All the details in the sky was brought out in post production and it would not have been possible if shot in JPEG. So set your camera’s image capture to raw, and never touch it.
7. Post Processing – If anybody said that digital photography is being ruined by post production then certainly that person does not know how to perform good post processing. It is something which like our camera techniques will come to us gradually and is an essential part of creating the final image. From the days of film to todays age, post processing is the only way we can get our vision of the image we captured to an actual print.
This image taken during sunrise in Jatinga, Assam has gone through a fair bit of post processing to be able to get to this final result. Do not be afraid of playing with the digital pixels, after all if we do not enjoy ourselves can we ever make good photographs!!
8. A few additional tips – Apart from the above few tips, i would like to list down a few more tricks. Always try and carry a tripod. I know it is heavy and it is a botheration to be carried around, but this is a life saver. It will help you capture images in low light, avoiding high iso and thus during the time of processing less noise to think about. Also apart from the star light effect there is really no need to stop down the lens to f/22. f/8 or a f/11 will give us more than enough depth of field. Use the live view function to scan all the corners of the frame properly before taking the photograph, try using the self timer, to avoid any camera shake whatsoever when on a tripod. Last but may be one of the most important is that our photographs are made up of light. Try to find contrast in a scene. That is what makes or breaks an image. Refer to one of my previous blog posts about light to get more about this http://debduttobanerjeephotography.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/its-about-light/
Hope that, few of my tips are helpful to you guys. What is your favourite trick or tip for shooting landscapes. Leave your answer in the comments section, would love to know your take on this.
Until next time :) :D