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Old 26-09-2007, 20:51   #1 (permalink)
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Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Oh wise Pixalo people I am after your knowledge, help and advice (again!)

I am soon to spend some time in Cornwall (one of my favourites places) and I am after some hints and tips on landscape photography. Whenever I have tried my hand at landscapes before it's tended to be a bit 'point, shoot and hope'. I don't seem to be able to capture what I see (does that make sense?) - but on the other hand I've not really tried hard to apply any theory - as I said, pretty much point/shoot.

I've been looking through the shots of my last trip to Cornwall and although I was/am bascially pleased with them (my first trip with the 20D) they all seem to lack 'something'. I'll have the beautiful Cornish coast and the varied Bodmin Moor at my disposal - I'd like to make the most of it and try my hand at practising landscapes.

Would I be right in thinking from my small selection of lenses, the 18-55mm (kit) and the 28-105mm are to be the most suitable (the 3rd being 70-300 IS) - and the tripod is a must?

Any thoughts on kit, composition, settings, light - bascially anything you can think of to help me get a decent shot - would be most appreciated.

Thank you!

Last edited by Ali; 26-09-2007 at 20:52. Reason: I always get advise and advice mixed up! Can't change the title though. Doh!
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Old 26-09-2007, 20:58   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Well, Markulous is definitely your man for landscapes, but plenty of others will be able to help too, I'm sure!

As a suggestion, why don't you put up some of your last Cornwall shots for us to see!?
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Old 26-09-2007, 21:04   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angela View Post
Well, Markulous is definitely your man for landscapes, but plenty of others will be able to help too, I'm sure!

As a suggestion, why don't you put up some of your last Cornwall shots for us to see!?
Good plan - the bit about putting up pics (the bit about me and Landscapes I'm not so sure about!)
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Old 26-09-2007, 21:49   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Oh, um! Righty ho. Will resize and load a few (they will be as taken, no twiddling!)

Watch this space (Chicken Fajitas call at the moment...)

And thank you to the kindly person who corrected my title typo!
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Old 26-09-2007, 22:02   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

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And thank you to the kindly person who corrected my title typo!
You're welcome
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Old 26-09-2007, 22:48   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

I'd recommend.....

Amazon.co.uk: The Making of Landscape Photographs: A Practical Guide to the Art and Techniques: Books: Charlie Waite

Amazon.co.uk: First Light: A Landscape Photographer's Art: Books: Joe Cornish,Charlie Waite

The first one is interesting partly because all the photos are taken with a medium format camera and are therefore square, which means you have to think a lot more about the foreground. He goes in for foreground rocks quite a lot.
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Old 26-09-2007, 23:01   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Here is selection of some taken from the last trip to Cornwall as suggested.
Having seen some of the landscape work posted by Pixalo members, I think these all lack 'something'. I like them and they all mean something to me, but I'd like to be able produce an image with that 'something'!



















Thanking you all muchly for you valued input!
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Old 26-09-2007, 23:03   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Thanks for the recommendations Silkstone
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Old 26-09-2007, 23:20   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

*Angela wanders off and considers taking up knitting*

Ali, there's not a lot wrong with those really is there!? My only comments would be

3 - possibly improved by having the whole rock in the shot

5 - could possiby lose a little of the foreground

I've come to realise that a lot of the "something" in landscapes comes from post-processing - something I am definitely no expert on!
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Old 27-09-2007, 07:59   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

My general advice is to always remember the rule of thirds when shooting landscapes. It is guaranteed to give you the best results 99% of the time and for the other 1% when it would have better to ignore it...lets put it this way I would be happy with a 99 out of 100 keeper rate

Your above shots are all of interesting locations and scenes but most of them have not made use of the rule of thirds, you have horizons or subjects cutting the shots right in the center on several, and and on one or two you have foreground subject matter that adds nothing to the shot (1,5,6).

We have a nice article on rule of thirds here

Remember also that landscape is as much about texture and layers as it is about subject. To show that you need soft light that is low to bring out the shadows etc, that usually means early morning or late afternoon evening is the best times to shoot.

Use interesting angles, get low in relation to subjects or move them of to the sides of the frame, use lead in lines from fences, houses, walls, cliffs etc..anything at all that will help the composition but don't include those items just for the sake of it. A fence leading into a shot is fine as long as it fits the rest of the scene

That's about all I can think of for now, hopefully some of the suggestions you'll; find useful. If I think of any more I will add them to this thread for you

One last thing, holidays and photography are both meant to be fun, don't let either ruin the other
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Old 27-09-2007, 08:22   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angela View Post
I've come to realise that a lot of the "something" in landscapes comes from post-processing - something I am definitely no expert on!
Think you still need that 'something' in the original shot - just that you can emphasise and bring it out with PP

Below is an example of how I might compose one of the shots. Entirely personal and I make no claims as to whether it's the right way to do it - others might see it differently. If I had the definitive answer I'd be off selling my shots like the proverbial hot cakes!



Buildings possibly not in the 'best' position in the frame but I've 'used' the foreground in the composition and cutting down on that further would 'spoil' it

Worth noting that whilst it's often advantageous to use what's in the scene (anchors, lead-ins, etc), the image may become so governed by rules that it has all the life sucked right out of it (something I tend towards, sadly!)! A pastiche of a scene can be intensely boring!
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Old 27-09-2007, 08:59   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

the other thing i would say is that the colours seem a little flat, there is no "pop" to them, do u shoot in RAW?
i would try an overlay blend layer on some of them see if that makes a difference ( see Robbarrons last layers tutorial) Rob told me about this a long time ago and i find it really works on a lot of pics!

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Old 27-09-2007, 09:47   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Not sure who first said it but the best accessory for a landscape photographer is an alarm clock. However if you make full use of this accessory on holiday then you definitley need the second essential accessory which is an understanding partner. Warm early morning light can add amazing texture to a landscape. I am immediately jealous of you since there is something special about breakfast after an early morning shoot.

I try to steer away from books on photography subjects especially as every few months the magazines will do an "All you need to know about landscapes" feature (Usually in 3 pages!!). So imagine my surprise when 3 months later apparently there was still more to know But if none the less you fancy a read I can recommend "The Photographer's Eye" by Michael Freeman. It has all the well known "rules" and a few dozen that I am sure he just made up.

Plagerism is another undervalued tool, sorry of course I meant look at pictures who's style you like and try to use them as inspiration.

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Old 27-09-2007, 10:08   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Must admit that I've never bought a book, nor even a magazine and generally ignore others' advice! LOL!

I'd argue the alarm clock advice too! Don't get me wrong, I love sunrise and often take them but think landscapes can be taken at any time of day - it's just a question of taking time of day into account. Some views will work better at specific times of day but like all generalisations, take with a pinch of salt. Some of my most interesting shots have been taken at the "wrong" time of day - I'd argue that the art is to use what's there and make the most of it!
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Old 27-09-2007, 10:30   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Thanks all

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angela View Post
I've come to realise that a lot of the "something" in landscapes comes from post-processing - something I am definitely no expert on!
Thank you, I'd had the same thoughts about post-processing (still very much wearing my L plates with pp!), these are as taken. Maybe it'd be worth a session with photoshop to see if they can be turned into something better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Your above shots are all of interesting locations and scenes but most of them have not made use of the rule of thirds, you have horizons or subjects cutting the shots right in the center on several, and and on one or two you have foreground subject matter that adds nothing to the shot (1,5,6).

We have a nice article on rule of thirds here
...
One last thing, holidays and photography are both meant to be fun, don't let either ruin the other
Thanks for the hints and suggestions Steve. I have to admit that when I am taking pictures I am thinking so hard about what settings the camera should be on the rule of thirds just doesn't enter my head. I'll have a good read of the article that you have linked to.

And I really appreciate the last comment too. I do want to take good pictures but am finding myself becoming frustrated at times - especially when it comes to pp. There is never enough time to really get to grips with it all. I want to enjoy taking photographs and not get bogged down in the worry of 'is it good enough'? I must ask must myself 'good enough for who or what' a bit more often

Quote:
Originally Posted by Markulous View Post
Think you still need that 'something' in the original shot - just that you can emphasise and bring it out with PP
...
Worth noting that whilst it's often advantageous to use what's in the scene (anchors, lead-ins, etc), the image may become so governed by rules that it has all the life sucked right out of it (something I tend towards, sadly!)! A pastiche of a scene can be intensely boring!
Thanks Markulous. My preferred method of learning is to see/try and your example really makes it clearer. As I said above I am spending so much time thinking about settings, I forget the compostion itself to some degree. I'll try not to go from one extreme to the other - which I have a tendancy to do!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fionaB View Post
the other thing i would say is that the colours seem a little flat, there is no "pop" to them, do u shoot in RAW?
You've hit it on the head! I was trying to think of a word to describe what they seem to lack - and they really don't have any 'pop'! No, I don't shoot RAW. I've thought about it - very briefly - but admit to be being nervous of doing so. It's my perception (as I've not looked into it) but I think of RAW as something that you need to know what they are doing in Photoshop! I must experiment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyP View Post
Not sure who first said it but the best accessory for a landscape photographer is an alarm clock. However if you make full use of this accessory on holiday then you definitley need the second essential accessory which is an understanding partner. Warm early morning light can add amazing texture to a landscape.
Thanks Vinny - I'll bear that in mind Some of the recent mornings have been beautiful, soft light, low mist - but if I try to capture it through the camera it just appears as a flat, hazy/foggy scene!


So - for landcapes the compostion (and light?) seems to be the key?

Would it be worth forgetting about trying to find the right manual settings, turning my dial to "Auto" or "Landscape" and concentrating on the composition? (or should I wash my mouth out with soap for mentioning Auto? )
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Old 27-09-2007, 10:50   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Unless I am absolutely aiming for a certain look to my finished shot I almost exclusively shoot landscapes in aperture priority and use that to control the depth of field, leaving the camera to work out the required shutter speed. Many times I will not even look at shutter speeds as I will be shooting off a tripod too.

The other thing to watch for with landscapes is that they nearly always include sky and ground...meaning there are big differences between the light required to capture detail in both. Many people will use filters to help with that but if you are shooting in soft (early/late) light the harshness is not nearly as much. Shooting in RAW will also give you +/- 2 stops to play with too, processing the same shot twice, once for sky at -2 stops and once for the foreground at +2 stops then combining them is a very simple process once you have learned the technique. You would be amazed at the difference this can make to a final shot
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Old 27-09-2007, 10:53   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Most cameras will do an excellent job under auto so no need to reach for the carbolic. However I would avoid the "landscape" setting as it probably does nasty things to saturation, in camera sharpening and white balance as well. Lot's of things you can do, if you have the time and editing software, shooting in raw does offer lots of chances to get the best out of an image. Using a tripod means you can slow everything down and also use smaller apertures which often are a help in landscape shots and will get the best out of your lenses. F9-11 is often the sweet spot for a lens. On a tripod aperture priority will be a good place to start but bracket your shot and try to look at what scenes need compensation. Bracketing on a tripod might let you try HDR for some scenes which is an amazing advance for landscape photographers.
If you are handholding shutter priority is often the safest option since that will always give you the maximum shake free DOF.
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Old 27-09-2007, 16:32   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

My tips would mirror a lot of what's been said already above.

I would recommend giving HDR (high dynamic range) a go. This requires taking several frames at different exposures, so you should use a tripod. You should also keep the aperture constant (for constant depth of field) and just adjust the shutter speed to get your +2EV and -2EV shots. I've also used bracketing for HDR successfully without a tripod, using autobracketing, continuous shoot mode and an IS lens... but a tripod is easier!

Here's an HDR of a Leicestershire sunset, snapped on my way home from work last summer. I didn't have a tripod on me but used a gatepost to rest against instead:



Another tip is to try lying down on your belly and using very wide angle (if the ground is suitable, of course). You might have to point the camera at the sky rather than the horizon but you get a lot of foreground interest as well as sky with this technique. I often do this with my 10-22mm, but you could also do it with 18mm in the right circumstances. You might get some funny looks from people and a dirty tshirt, but hey!

Here's one of Stonehenge from almost ground level. It had the nice side-effect of cutting out hundreds of tourists from the other side of the monument which would have been visible if I'd taken the shot from a more normal viewpoint:



Anyway, Steve's tip is probably most useful: make sure you're having fun taking photos on holiday! Don't take so much care over the technical settings and methods that you stop enjoying yourself...
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Old 27-09-2007, 16:51   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Gotta ask...what is aperture priority?
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Old 27-09-2007, 17:28   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Remember also that landscape is as much about texture and layers as it is about subject. To show that you need soft light that is low to bring out the shadows etc, that usually means early morning or late afternoon evening is the best times to shoot.
Note in addition to above that an overcast day is perfect for Mono shooting. The lack of hard shadows, allows the textures to really sing
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Old 27-09-2007, 19:20   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

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Gotta ask...what is aperture priority?
AP or AV is when you set the specific Aperture and the camera will set the shutter speed according to the light reading (taking into account any set compensation)
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Old 27-09-2007, 21:18   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Landscapes; advice, hints and tips please!

Thanks Markulous
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