Landscape Photography - Going Beyond the Snapshot
Landscape photography is often seen as one of the most challenging kinds of photography. Probably because it deals with the most unpredictability as well as a lot of physical work. Success in landscape photography is often affected by so many factors, some of which are weather, tide, visibility, and many other logistical factors. However, most landscape photographers would tell you that these obstacles, once you overcome them, make the craft all the more rewarding.
Most landscape photography tips would tell you that the craft is great about being at the right place at the right time. Of course, it is also about taking the right shot, with the right settings, with the right composition, with the best camera for landscape photography that you have. The process of landscape photography starts days, weeks, or even months prior to taking the actual shot. It begins with the inspiration to see a new place and see what it offers. It is then followed by planning every single step towards that particular vantage point. It may mean a long walk, a long drive, a plane trip, or a mix of all of them. It involves finding out the best time to be shooting a place, the best day that would improve your chances of getting good light, and ultimately the best spot to stand on.
Through all the logistical challenges and the legwork behind landscape photography, the actual execution of the shot remains crucial. Being able to put yourself in the right spot to take the shot at the perfect time is half of the ballgame. What you do with that shot as you take it, and afterward will dictate the success of the pursuit of amazing photographs.
Landscape photography has evolved greatly. Thanks to advances in technology and the innovation of amazing landscape photographers, there are so many available approaches to taking the perfect landscape photograph. Landscape photographers aim to capture the essence of the location that they see and interpret it in the most artistic way that they can. While most landscape photographers differ in style, approach, and preferences, it is never harmful to know as many methods as you can. In this article, let’s take a look at these varying approaches that might suit your preferences and landscape photography tips that will help you adapt to the demands of the photograph you have envisioned.
Long exposure is perhaps one of the most common tricks in the book of landscape photographers. Mastering the methods of long exposure not only makes a multitude of aesthetic effects but actually solves many of the challenges encountered in photographing the outdoors. Nature landscape photography seems easy when you’re looking at the final output but not when you’re actually taking it. Long exposure is an effective way to surpass challenges in lighting but to more experienced landscape photographers, it is also a visual design tool.
With the use of the right filters, long exposure landscapes can create visually enhancing effects that produce cleaner images with interesting textures and contrast. Depending on the length of exposure and the movement in the frame, long exposures can give you painterly textures on even the roughest seascapes, smooth brushed skies on a windy day, or minimalist surfaces for black and white landscape photography. The reason why long exposure is one of the most used techniques in landscape photography is that it doesn’t only help our cameras see in the dark but actually allows the photographer to transform the place into what their vision dictates.
High Dynamic Range workflows are truly the epitome of overcoming the obstacles of landscape photography. A common challenge encountered in landscape photography is the limitation of what the camera can record in detail in very diverse lighting situations. From backlit mountain landscape photography, glistening waterfalls, and even bright glowing cities in front of a vibrant sunset, the limitations of the camera can often hinder the photographer from showing what they intend to illustrate. HDR photography makes use of multiple exposures of varying luminosity to overcome this challenge. High dynamic range situations lose detail in shadows and highlights if taken with just one exposure. HDR workflows make use of multiple shots to get the best detail out of each one to come up with a balanced and detailed exposure.
Clearly one of the most impactful ways of capturing landscape scenes is catching an electrifying phenomenon such as the elusive lightning strike. Nature landscape photography is not just about blue skies and sunny weather, it’s about the vast conditions of nature and the environment. Photographing lightning is challenging because of the fact that it only happens in fractions of a second and can often be difficult to predict. However, with the use of predictive tools, forecasts, and the proper gear, it can be done.
The evolution of landscape photography truly goes beyond what we can capture in a single frame. These innovations have allowed us to show images of phenomena that either happened way too quickly or way too slow for our eyes to comprehend. It takes a set of eyes to see something happening at one moment but it requires a wider imagination to comprehend and understand long processes enough to be able to illustrate them.
Time-lapse photography deals with exactly that. Using hundreds or even thousands of images taken at precise intervals, time-lapse photography allows us to see and illustrate how the environment changes, how large crowds move, how small seedlings grow, and everything else that the naked eye can’t. Through meticulous skillful processes, these images, the details, and textures that they create in the still canvass can be combined into a single image that becomes an embodiment of an astounding phenomenon.
Alternatively, the hundreds or thousands of images taken in a time-lapse sequence can be turned into video clips. After all, video is in fact taken with the same principle of capturing multiple frames in sequences. The only difference is that they are often 25, 30, even 120 or 240 frames per second when time-lapse often comes in seconds-per-frame. Following this, time-lapse photos assembled into videos are able to speed up the usually slow and progressive changes in the frame into a few seconds with much more dynamism. Timelapse clips create the most eye-catching, dynamic, and encompassing videos that either enlighten us about such phenomena or make us turn our heads and keep our eyes peeled for what comes next.
Advanced Landscape Photography Kit Essentials
Any camera can be used for landscape photography, of course. However, having the best camera for landscape photography is to assure you of the best image quality, the most flexible raw files for large prints, and versatility for the challenges of any location, higher resolution, higher dynamic range, and efficient ergonomics are important. In the same way, a sufficient set of lenses that cover most focal ranges allow you to adjust to any angle of view that your envisioned shot would require. The best lens for landscape photography is basically the one that can give you the range that you need. For this, a trinity of zoom lenses is the most popular recipe. A set consisting of an ultra-wide-angle lens such as a 16-35mm (10-18mm for APS-c cameras) for wide vistas and substantial foreground composition, a standard zoom lens such as a 24-70mm (18-55mm for APS-c cameras) for utmost flexibility in shooting diverse scenes, and a telephoto zoom lens such as a 70-200mm is the best lens for landscape photography when photographing intimate scenes and distant mountain landscape photography. This is perhaps the most reliable combination you can bring on any shooting trip.
Filters are often tricky to use but when you’ve mastered how to determine which filters to use to achieve the effect you envision and solve the problems you need to solve, these tools can transform the location and the environmental condition to suit the outcome that you aim to create. Filters allow you to achieve a better balance of luminosity in situations when the sky out-glows your foreground. They can help intensify blue skies and control reflections to improve contrast and symmetry that look best in black and white landscape photography. Of course, neutral density filters allow you to shoot long exposures even in extremely bright situations to be able to achieve attractive motion blur and smooth textures.
Tripods are essential in making sure that any advanced landscape photography workflow is successful. Long exposures require sturdy tripods that would resist any shake against strong winds or water currents. Shooting HDR would mean having to maintain framing consistently as you shoot the consecutive bracketed exposures. Shooting time-lapse and star trails require the same maintained angle for very long hours of shooting. Needless to say that the reliability of your tripod dictates the assurance that your shots are kept sharp, in-focus, and consistent throughout the shoot.
To make you ready for any creative endeavor on location and to make processes much easier and secure, a smart camera trigger makes all the difference. From setting precise exposures no matter how long they may be, to shooting in exact intervals for time-lapse and astrophotography, camera triggers make the creative process less mechanical so you can focus on composition and visual design.
Meet FLEX, a smart camera gadget for creative photography.
Meet FLEX, a smart camera gadget for creative photography.
Above the standards of camera triggers, the MIOPS Flex takes your workflow to a whole new level of automation and intuition. With the convenient use of a smartphone as your remote, the MIOPS Flex enables you to shoot long exposures from a safe distance. It features standard intervalometer functions for an easy time-lapse shooting process as well. The MIOPS Flex also packs a light sensor that detects flashes of lightning to trigger the exposure automatically to increase your chances of catching the split-second strikes. This smart camera trigger also eases your worries with its built-in automated processes for HDR and Timelapse. The MIOPS Flex allows you to see the result of your combined bracketed HDR exposures as you shoot and shows you a preview of your time-lapse sequence in real-time. On top of that, the built-in memory backs up your images without the need for a computer which is perfect for when you’re on the go. The MIOPS Flex is a perfect companion for shooting that offers you not just automation and efficiency but also security with your images.
Blog Credit: Nicco Valenzuela
Nicco started his photographic journey in 2007 practicing the craft as a hobby. Currently, he shoots for various local and international architectural firms and construction companies. Out of his love for sharing his knowledge, Nicco began writing about photography and various pieces of gear.