|this seems to be getting a lot of positive vibes so best it goes here methinks|
Ever been at one of those parties you didn’t want to go to because you knew it was going to be full of people who think they are (or in your case actually are) better than you? YES OF COURSE YOU HAVE. The sort of party where you’ll ask that person standing next to the hummus “what do you do for a living?” and they reply smugly “I’m a landscape photographer”. Well read this page and be a fucking landscape photographer too. It’s like landscape gardening for those with weak knees.
First things first. What is the most important thing about landscape photography? Have something fucking cool to look at of course. It is NOT landscape photography if you go and take a photo of your back yard. People want to see rivers, trees, mountains. They want to see rolling hills, reflective lakes and dramatic skies. SO GO SOMEWHERE THAT LOOKS NICE. It really is half the battle won.
* Camera – “Check” (don’t say check if it’s not in the bag, dummy)
* Lens – “Check” (something with a wide field of view, for example starting at 10-17mm. You might also want to pack a zoom lens like anything up to 250mm. Sometimes distant landscapes look amazeballs if you shoot them zoomed in without a horizon.)
* Tripod – “Check” (For the purist. You can leave this at home if you are a lazy bastard and want to shoot handheld at f11 or f13)
* Remote shutter release – “Check” (Also for the purist. You don’t need this if you don’t bring the tripod. Actually bring it out without the tripod so everyone can laugh at you.)
* Filters – “Check” (these might make your photos suck less. See below.)
After scenery this is the other most important thing in making a landscape photograph that doesn’t suck balls. Photography nerds will talk about a lot of different “rules” that you can apply to composition. Idiots like you need these explained –
Rule of Thirds – imagine an Irish man saying it….”Rule o’ Turds”. Now you’ll remember it. Because you were a deprived child you played X and O’s didn’t you? Well imagine that criss cross grid over a scene. Unlike that game where you put things in the boxes, in photography you want to put things on the lines. Put the horizon on the upper third or lower third. NEVER IN THE CENTRE*. Put other points of interest on the vertical thirds – trees, people, rocks…whatever is your focal point.
Focal point – See how I linked that? That’s because everything is linked in composition. Composition is just like playing Tekken – combinations are the key. All good landscape photos i.e. ones that you didn’t make, have something of interest in the foreground. People like to look at things. Then look at another thing and then another thing. So have something of interest in the shot as a focal point. A tree. A big ass rock. A waterfall. SOMETHING. The usual trick is to have the focal point in the foreground and then link it to the background with…..
Leading lines – I am a linking genius, right? A leading line doesn’t have to be a line. I know that might confuse your absent brain. A boat on the shore can lead the eye to a ramp into the lake which leads the eye to the lake which leads the eye to the hills in the background which leads the eye to the clouds in the sky. Use your mind’s eye. What do you look at first in the scene? Then what? And then what? Try not to have a stroke whilst exercising your so called brain so much.
Reflections & symmetry - *remember when I said never to put your horizon in the centre of the image? Well just like when you say you’ll never drink Tequila again….never doesn’t really mean never. Having your horizon line in the centre of the image can work well if you have a mountain above it and the reflection of a mountain in the water below that line. Humans are designed to like symmetry. That’s why people like beautiful people and not you. Beautiful people have symmetrical faces unlike your gargoyle of a mug.
Converging lines – These are connected to leading lines and symmetry. Humans also like converging lines because we see them every day. It’s basically two lines which eventually meet at a point. This point is usually at infinity or the vanishing point. Think of a straight road disappearing into the distance. A tree lined path in the park. A narrow street in the old town of a city. All of those times you find yourself alone in those places because you have no friends – yeah, that’s a good time to shoot them.
Set your aperture to a high f number. Anything above f11 should work. If you are too fucking lazy to have a tripod then you should still be able to shoot landscapes at f11 or f13 handheld…unless you’re shaking too much from alcohol withdrawal. If you have a tripod then you can set the aperture higher to like f16 or f22. A higher f number means a smaller hole for the light to get into your camera sensor. This means you have to have a slower shutter speed to allow more time for light to get in. This means you need your tripod to stop camera shake. ARE YOU GETTING IT YET? Start at 1/60 sec and then increase it up if you need more light or down if you need less. If it is daytime then your ISO should always be 100 and maybe 200 if it is REALLY overcast.
If you brought a tripod and you want to shoot at f16 or higher then you might as well use the remote shutter release. If you don’t touch your shit camera then it won’t shake and if it doesn’t shake then there’s more chance your image will be sharp and that’s another victory on the road to not being a shit photographer. If shooting handheld then try to stand still. That’s usually a good start. Tuck your gammy elbows into your body and have a wide stance for balance. Think “standing like a boss”. Half depress the shutter button to focus the camera and then like a bad ass sniper control your breathing as you fully depress the shutter. People are used to seeing things from head height. Because that’s where your eyes are – duh. Sometimes a scene can become instantly more interesting simply by elevating or lowering your camera to an angle other than head height
Weather – unless you are in a place where it is blue skies and sunny all of the time then generally speaking, landscape photographs look better with cloudy skies. So if you can go out and shoot on that “it looks like it’s going to fucking rain on me” day. Ominous dark rain clouds can add drama to a scene. Landscape photographers call it “dynamic weather” because they are pretentious twats. You can now attend that hummus filled party and name drop that bad boy too. If you can avoid featureless blue skies or even more featureless grey skies then do. Also avoid tornadoes and hurricanes because they cause a little bit of camera shake.
Timing – some knobish landscape photographers only shoot during the golden hours. I.e. they get up really fucking early and photograph in the hour before and during sunrise or they stay out late and photograph the hour before or during sunset. Remember this is ONLY ONE OPTION. Pick “dynamic weather” (see it IS useful) then you can shoot during the daytime too. It is better to shoot during the morning or afternoon and not lunch time though. The sun being lower in the sky creates sexier long shadows and less harsh light so your photos won’t suck so hard.
Filters – these add a whole other dimension to landscape photographs. A UV filter has the main purpose of cutting down UV light but since most cameras do this anyway the reason you will want one is to protect your lens from your clumsy self. A UV filter can protect from scratches and grime from your dirty, sweaty fingers. Want milky looking seas in your waterscape? A Neutral Density (ND) filter reduces the amount of light entering the lens so you can shoot long exposures during daylight. Get one of those STAT. A graduated ND filter does the same but has one half of the filter clear so you can darken a bright sky if you went out at noon like I said not to. Dummy. If you want really blue skies then get a Polarizing filter. Because that is what it does. It also cuts down on reflections in glass and water so if you want reflections in water then…don’t….use….one. Glass filters are best but cost a lot more than plastic ones which can cloud the final image. It depends on how much crack you’ve smoked this week as to which one you end up buying doesn’t it?
Now you should have some sort of idea of how to shoot landscapes you hummus-eating-pretentious-twat-photographer-person.
|I spent my money on birds, booze and fast cars....the rest I squandered.|