Beautiful landscapes

From shooting at sunrise or sunset, to the rule of thirds, there are loads of unwritten rules about what makes a good landscape photo. So wecome up with a range of techniques that you can use to breathe new life into your landscapes. The following pages are packed with fresh advice on getting original shots in classic landscape locations, from lowlands and woodlands to mountains and beaches, but many of the techniques will be useful wherever, and whenever, you choose to shoot. LOWLAND LANDSCAPES We don t all have dramatic mountain ranges on our doorstep, so here s how to make the most of lowland landscapes near you Think about classic landscapes and you may have visions of majestic mountains or dramatic coasts, but itlikely that the most accessible locations for you are fields, hedgerows and scruffy common land.

beautiful landscapesThe lack of drama in your locality doesnmean you need to head straight for the hills or travel to the coast though, because there are plenty of ways you can get great results in all sorts of locations.

You just need to work a little harder to make a dramatic or eye-catching image in a lowland location. One of the simplest and quickest ways to transform your landscape shots is to get creative with slow shutter speeds. This will enable you to either blur any movement in the subject, or move the camera itself for even more abstract results. Youneed to use a shutter speed of around 0.5 sec or slower to blur most landscape subjects, which can be hard to achieve in bright conditions. FILTER IT There are a couple of filters that are ideal for images like this: a straight Neutral Density (ND) filter or a polariser. Neutral Density filters are available in various strengths, and a two-or three-stop version is perfect for reducing the light enough to use a 0.5 sec shutter speed in most lighting conditions. A polariser, meanwhile, will increase saturation in your shots, but it will also reduce the light by up to two stops, so can be very useful in bright conditions. TRY INFRARED Itnot exactly a new technique, but shooting infrared images can give you a new view of a familiar landscape. Youneed a sunny day so that thereplenty of infrared light to record, and some fluffy clouds in a blue sky are ideal. To get the full infrared effect youalso need an infrared filter. These are almost completely opaque, and only allow a tiny amount of visible light to pass through them. Gauging the exposure will take a bit of trial and error, as not all metering systems and sensors have the same sensitivity to this type of light. So shoot in Manual exposure mode and use the settings suggested by the meter as a starting point. LIGHT THE FOREGROUND Try using a flash to brighten up the landscape when shooting in dark or overcast conditions Landscape photography is usually all about capturing the best natural light, but you can also add some extra light to help nature along. Try using a separate flashgun or even your camera s built-in flash to light up the foreground of your images. Obviously, the light from your flash can t compete with the brightness of a sunny day, or light up the whole landscape, so you need to find the right conditions for this technique to work successfully. A dark, stormy day, or a sunrise or sunset, are ideal times to try flash in your landscapes, as the lower light levels mean that the light from your flash has a more obvious effect. Even the most powerful flash will only light the foreground of your shot, so choose a scene that has a suitable subject close to the camera. RIVERS, WATERFALLS & LAKES From a flat, calm lake to a surging waterfall, water can dramatically change the character of your landscape images. Here are four ways to capture its different moods. AT WATER LEVEL Weall used to seeing the landscape from normal eye-level, so something as simple as switching to a low or high shooting position can transform the images you take. When shooting water, try to get as close to water level as possible —as well as giving a different perspective on the scene, this will also help to enhance any reflections on the surface of the water. BELOW THE WATER You can go a step further and get below the water for a different view of the landscape. Rather than going completely under the surface, positioning the camera so that you see beneath the surface of the water as well as the landscape above it gives a dramatic and unusual view. Water and expensive cameras donreally mix, though, so youneed a way of waterproofing your kit before you start submerging it (see panel, right). Rather than one of the expensive underwater housings, we used a cheap fish tank for our shots. Although it does take a bit of nerve to place the tank in the water with your camera inside it, as long as you test it for leaks first itpretty safe. For the shot pictured below left, we also attached a two-stop graduated Neutral Density filter to give a more balanced exposure between the water and the land. With the camera in Manual exposure mode, we set the exposure before putting the camera inside the tank, and attached a remote control to make it easier to fire the camera. UPRIGHT PANORAMAS Weall used to seeing horizontal ’panoramic shots, but rivers and waterfalls often donfit this format. However, if the river or waterfall is on a slope, it will work perfectly as an upright panorama. The simplest way to get a shot like this is to shoot in an upright format and then crop your image into the panoramic shape. But if you want to produce very large prints you can get a much higher-resolution file by shooting a series of horizontal images and stitching them together into a panoramic format using the Photomerge feature in Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements. If youstitching images that feature moving water, youneed to do some manual cloning to hide the joins, as the software will struggle to match the different images. TREES AND FORESTS Don t miss these exciting new ways to shoot woodland landscapes, from a single, lone tree to a vast expanse of forest Dark, shady forests and woods are full of detail and shapes. But you donhave to capture this detail for effective woodland images. beautiful landscapesIT S ALL A BLUR The pursuit of sharpness and detail is the holy grail of most landscape photographers, but itnot the only way to shoot scenic images. A little blur can add a sense of mystery and uncertainty to your shots of woods and forests. There are two simple ways to achieve creative blur in-camera —by moving the camera during the exposure or by using a soft-focus filter. When moving the camera, the upright trunks of the trees mean youget the best results by moving the camera up or down. You can buy soft-focus filters, but you can also make your own. Donuse this technique on your best filters though. If you donhave an old one to use, buy a cheap skylight or UV filter, then wipe a tiny amount of Vaseline onto the filter to create the blur. Once youfinished, keep this filter separate from your other kit. For both effects, shoot a sharp frame as well as a blurred one, then combine the two. To do this in Photoshop, start with your sharp image as the Background layer, then copy and paste the blurred image on top. You can adjust the opacity of the blurred layer to around 50% so the sharp image is just visible behind it. SHOOT A SILHOUETTE For ayou would normally try to get detail in both the sky and the foreground, but youalso find that the strong, dominant shapes of trees against the sky work well in silhouette. Exposing for a silhouette is pretty straightforward, although many modern multi-segment metering systems will try to balance the exposure automatically between the sky and foreground. Using this type of metering you may find that you need to set the camera to underexpose —do this by dialling-in-0.5 or-1 EV of Exposure Compensation. LOOK UP The landscape doesnhave to be all about what you can see at ground level. Remember that woods and forests can provide the ideal opportunity to take a look upwards and capture the detail and light of the branches and leaves that are hanging out above your head. When shooting upwards you can also use the tree trunks closest to you to create strong leading lines that draw the eye into the image. MOUNTAINS AND HILLS The grandeur of mountain ranges and hills provides the perfect backdrop for creative landscape shots From sweeping mountain ranges to jagged cliffs, mountains are full of photogenic scenery. Here are four ways to give your mountain shots more impact and individuality. USE A TELEPHOTO LENS Faced with a beautiful landscape, chances are youinstantly reach for a wide-angle lens, or set your standard zoom to its widest setting, to capture as much of the view as possible. Look closer though, and youfind there are loads of amazing details that only the magnification of a telephoto lens can capture. SHOOT AT HALF-LIGHT The eerie half-light before sunrise or after sunset is perfect for giving your mountain images a different look. These conditions are similar to shooting at sunrise and sunset, but because there isnany direct light on the landscape, the mountains and rocks can look even more foreboding. You can use a graduated Neutral Density filter to balance the exposure between the sky and the landscape, but itbest to use an exposure that keeps some of the rocks in shadow to make your shot more dramatic. Remember that mountains can be dangerous places, especially in the dark. At the very least take a torch, plenty of warm clothing and some basic provisions. USE MAN-MADE FEATURES Finding locations without any signs of human life is the classic aim of most landscape photographers, or even going to the extreme of cloning out elements such as telegraph poles or even whole buildings. But in most locations youfind this increasingly hard, so why not use such elements as part of the picture? Wenot talking about the classic picturesque buildings such as a ruined castle or dry-stone wall, but the modern tarmac and concrete that is increasingly encroaching on the landscape. Roads or power lines disappearing off into the distance can give a great sense of scale and depth to your photographs, while you can also use things like barbed wire or gates as a contrast to the beauty of the wider landscape around them.

beautiful landscapesSHOOT A COMPOSITE

Just because your camera is set up to take one shot at a time doesnmean that shooting one image is the only way to capture a landscape. You can always take a whole series of images and then combine them together on a single canvas to give a multi-layered view of the scene. When shooting images for this technique, rather than keeping everything sharp and using a wide-angle lens, try shooting with a focal length of between 40mm to 70mm and pick out individual elements in the scene. Using a wide aperture such as f/4 to give shallow depth of held will help you to isolate foreground features in some of your shots. Itworth shooting more images than you think you might need, and also overlapping them so you have plenty of options when you come to combine them later on. THE COAST AND SEA Shooting at sunrise or sunset and using the classic rules of composition aren t the only ways to capture coastal landscapes The changing nature of the tide and weather can make or break your coastal landscapes. Herehow to capture its differing moods... SHOOT IN THE MIST Shooting by the sea, youoften find the weather doesnalways provide ’fluffy clouds or stunning sunsets. Thick mist or fog can be pretty common in coastal locations, and ittempting to pack up and go home in these conditions. However, itoften worth persevering to get some really atmospheric results. As with shooting snow-covered landscapes, when fog or heavy mist covers a scene, itcommon for the camera to produce under-exposed images, making your shots look even more dark and murky. This is because the fog is mostly white or light grey, so youneed to set your cameraExposure Compensation to around +1 to get the correct exposure. In fog or mist thereoften very little colour in the scene, so itperfect for shooting in black and white to make the most of this monochrome subject. UNUSUAL COMPOSITIONS You can also produce some fantastic images by doing the opposite —almost excluding the sky in the frame. Look for amazing detail or colour in the foreground that you can use to add maximum impact, and frame your shot so that this takes up most, or all, of the frame. This technique is also perfect when shooting bland, uninteresting skies. Even in bright conditions youfind it easier to achieve fast shutter speeds if you set an ISO of 400, although youhave to use higher ISO settings in dull conditions.

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