In this day and age, it’s never been easier to take your own fantastic photographs. Most of us spend our lives walking around with a high quality camera in our pocket and – though most of us use our smartphones for selfies, food pics and Snapchats of our pets – it’s given us the ability to document our lives in stunning clarity.
If you own a good quality mirrorless or DSLR camera, and you’re keen to take your photography skills to the next level, there are a huge number of online guides you can take advantage of. This week, the EasyFrame team have been taking a look back at some of our favourite landscape photographs, and, with the hope of helping those budding Ansel Adamses out there master their art, we’ve put together a guide of our own. With these tips in mind you’ll be able to take some great photos, hang them in a custom-made EasyFrame picture frame, and get them up on your wall.
Find that Perfect Location
When starting out with landscape photography, you’ll want to spend some time locating the perfect spot. As you get more skilled you’ll be able to master shots on the fly, but when you’re a beginner it helps to do some planning in advance. Bear in mind that one location will look different depending upon the angle it is approached from – so don’t be afraid to pull on your walking shoes and do some wandering until you find that sweet spot.
If you’re out in the countryside, make sure you have a map of some form so that you don’t get stranded! It can be particularly helpful to have a paper map where you can mark your favourite locations and take notes about angles.
When you’ve found a location you want to photograph, spend some time working out which time of day to take your shot. If it’s a busy area and you’d rather your photo didn’t include human subjects, consider getting up early and taking it at first light. If you want your landscape to include a beautiful setting sun, be prepared to visit the spot every day until you get the perfect weather conditions. And remember, while you are waiting around you can take some practice shots to help nail your composition.
Make Sure You’re Properly Equipped
You may have a fantastic, professional camera but that’s not all you need to take a great landscape shot. For beginners, the most essential piece of equipment is the tripod. This is particularly necessary if you’re in a windswept location, or if you’re taking a shot that requires a long shutter speed.
You may also consider getting equipped with a remote shutter release; this enables you to set off the shutter without pressing the button on your camera. In some cases, pressing the camera button can cause a minor amount of shake which can blur the image; with a remote shutter release any shake is minimised.
Other key pieces of equipment include a waterproof camera case, spare camera batteries or a wireless charger, a fully charged mobile phone – and a thermos of hot tea. You could be standing around for a while…
Find your Focal Point
All photos need a focal point, even landscapes. Finding yours will help you figure out the composition of the photo. Yours might be a rock formation, mountain, tree, building, or even the setting sun – it doesn’t necessarily matter what it is, but it does matter where you place it within the frame.
To help finalise the composition of your shot it can be helpful to refer to the rule of thirds. This is essentially where you divide the image into nine squares of equal size. Instead of automatically centring your focal point in the middle square, aim to arrange it along the lines surrounding that middle square. The optimal areas to place focal points are the intersections between lines in the middle.
When taking a shot of the sea, for instance, it is best to line up the horizon with the top third or bottom third line – instead of having it cut directly through the centre.
Increase Depth of Field
Time to get technical! If you’ve spent some time playing around with your camera you’ll know that you can capture more of the scene if you increase depth of field. You can do this by decreasing your aperture setting; the smaller the aperture, the greater depth of field you can achieve.
In decreasing your aperture size, you are limiting the amount of light that hits your image sensor. To make up for this, you’ll need to increase your ISO or your shutter speed – or both. If you’re increasing your shutter speed, that tripod we mentioned earlier is going to be vital!
Be Prepared for Changes in Light
Your camera can quickly get confused by changes in the light, and may then make decisions that don’t result in a great photo. If it’s very sunny, your camera will tend to underexpose everything in the frame. You can use a wide angle lens to ensure that the sun takes up less room, lower your ISO setting to decrease your camera’s sensitivity to light, use fill flash to compensate for the underexposure, or even make use of a neutral density or polarising filter.
If you’re working in low light, you’ll typically want to do the opposite. Increase your ISO setting, use a larger aperture, slow down shutter speed and utilise your camera’s exposure compensation settings.
Printing and Hanging those Finished Shots
Once you’ve nailed that dream landscape shot, make sure you do something with it! At EasyFrame you can order a custom-made picture frame that has been constructed to your precise dimensions. Of course, if you’ve taken a number of different shots, each of which is excellent in its own way, you can also order a bespoke multi-aperture frame.
Order your picture frame from us and it’ll be dispatched in just three days. To find out more, and to start choosing your frame style, visit our Picture Frames & Mounts page.