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Best-ever landscape, portrait photography tips

Landscape

From identifying great light to playing with aspect ratios, we offer some advice for land lovers.

What makes great light?

There is no magic solution for knowing when and exactly where a magnificent sunrise or sunset will happen; however to up your odds there are certain conditions to look out for. Clouds are good but not so many that they are too – between 30-70% is ideal. Rain about two to six hours before sunset can be good as it can clear the atmosphere but remember it’s best not to have too much wind. It’s still a bit of a game of chance so keep trying and getting out there with your camera.

Go high

There are many ways to get an serial shot but the easiest these days is to take to with a drone. The midday light is perfect for serial shots as it illuminates everything evenly from above, making colors pop.

Patterns and shapes

The landscape is full of patterns and shapes (both natural and man-made) and in the landscape genre searching for these will help you to get great results. By converting your image to black & white you can highlight the pattern formation to a further degree.

Person in the landscape

There are times when the inclusion of a person can better your landscape shot. People can be used in the landscape genre to gain a better perspective of the scale of the land or simply to create an ambiance. You could even include yourself in the distance as a landscape/self-portrait mixture to create an interesting frame.

Dull days

The glorious sunsets skies are an excellent opportunity don’t forget you can still get great results with clouds and dull misty days. Go for a minimal approach and try converting your image to black & white to enhance the textures in the land, which adds another element to the scene.

Go slow

During the middle of the day in bright light it’s still possible to slow down time and achieve a long exposure time by attaching an ND filter. ND filters come in a variety of strengths that measure in stops. A 10-stop filter is considered strong; however if that doesn’t reduce your shutter speed enough, you can stack filters together. Soften moving clouds and turn water into soft silk. 

Change the aspect ratio

Although it’s tempting to shoot in a 2:3 ratio mix it up a bit from time to time. The landscape genre works well in a square format or as a long panorama so keep that in mind. 

Textured skies

A landscape photographer’s nightmare is clear blue skies. Look for textured clouds to bring another element into the scene. This image (left), taken on Dartmoor, shows where textured clouds add that touch of magic and hold the eye.

Lens choice

Often a wide angle lens for a landscape shoot will be the first port of call and for good reason. However don’t forget to take your telephoto zoom lens for a different approach to the genre. Telephoto lenses work really well from high vantage points and to compress the scene where the main focal point may get lost with a wide angle lens.

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