Landscape Tips by Jim Fenemore
Don’t take photos, make them
Think carefully about the foreground; create lines and shapes that lead the eye into the image.
Don’t necessarily restrict photography to sunny days. Many images taken at dusk and dawn or on days you would not normally venture out can end up being your most creative. Morning and evening light during fine weather is usually the best time of day for bringing out texture and form to a landscape.
Try closing one eye in an attempt to visualise the scene as the lens does.
Perhaps include people in the scene to create a focal point and scale. At the same time be aware of privacy considerations when photographing people. You may need to ask their permission. Having said that, if they are some distance away and they are not easily recognisable then that should not be a problem.
Take fewer photos, don’t get snap happy, thinking that a ‘blanket’ coverage will achieve results. Most of the effort should be in visualising and planning a shot before you take it.
A tripod is almost a necessity. Consider using a cable release, timer with mirror lock, or a wireless system. Apart from insuring sharp images you will have a better chance of getting the horizon straight and not wasting detail by having to crop when editing. A tripod will also allow you to maintain the lowest ISO setting that sometimes result in long exposures. Lock in the focus manually, moving the camera if necessary to place the focus point precisely over the area selected, then re-compose the scene.
Experiment with slow shutter speeds, creating movement in water or long grass for example. A polarising or neutral density filter may assist when there is ample light.
Use P for program initially if in a hurry to capture a transient scene such as moving clouds and resulting shadows, they could be important parts of the composition. Get a few shots in the bag and then settle down to a little more thought regarding image controls.
Consider if an ordinary scene will benefit from being cropped as a panorama.
Bracket your exposures by at least one stop either side if there is any doubt.
Learn to use the camera histogram effectively.
Find a focal point in middle ground or foreground to create depth and to avoid the shot looking empty. Consider the rule of thirds in relation to where you place a focal point and the horizon line.
Change the relationship of foreground to the background by moving ‘camera to foreground’ subject distance and/or the height of the camera. This would alter the importance of foreground subjects with virtually no apparent change to the distant scene.
HDR? If you are familiar with this process use with caution as the results can sometimes look a little too contrived (or fake).