Landscape Photography - 5 Essentials

There are numerous articles of this nature, as one of my main passions is landscape photography I thought I would post my thoughts on landscape photography essentials.With some quick hints and tips.

Tripod

Probably the number one item that you must use during any landscape photography. Everyone says it, and it is very true, you must also ensure that you are using a decent quality tripod. If the tripod is flimsy it will catch the wind and any slight vibration or movement will ultimately spoil your image. If the adjustments are fiddly and awkward it is going to put you off recomposing your shot to get the perfect composition.

There really is nothing worse than looking at the back of your camera and thinking that you have a great photograph only to get home look at it on the computer and release the image is soft all over due to camera movement.

I use a Manfrotto tripod, with a Manfrotto basic pan and tilt head whilst both of these are excellent sturdy pieces of kit. Combined it is a heavy item to be carrying around. This is the price you have to pay. I also think that the adjustment is a bit tricky on this and I regularly curse because whilst trying to make a minor adjustment I completely loose my framing. However it always holds true once it is set. In future I will probably look at the geared head such as this one this allows much more precise adjustment.

Shutter Release (Remote or Wired)

I have used a very simple remote shutter release for 4/5 years. It is probably my most useful item that I have, and cost very little (less than £10.00). Nikon ML-L3.

You can get some very advanced variations of this that will allow you to do exact time captures, and timed interval shots but this has done me fine.

Again just to ensure that you have the best possibility of capturing a sharp image it should be used almost all the time. Its simple, and reliable.

Its so good... I have just ordered myself a spare (God Damn you Amazon Prime)

Filters

You will read lots about how filters used to be used extensively to change the colour of an image, and of course that is no longer necessary, tones can be changed quickly and easily in any photo editing software. There are still some very justified uses for filters though.

  • Graduated Filter - I use this to ensure that I can get some movement in the skies, or water without overexposing any of the foreground. I haven't really used anything more advanced than the Cokin Filter range for this they are relatively cheap but you do tend to get a bit of a colour cast from then that needs correcting afterwards.

  • ND Filter - Easily my favourite. This will allow long exposures in the day. This can turn grey dull days into great photo opportunities. There are varying qualities of ND filter, and of course strengths. The one that I purchased was an ND10 B&W (57mm) and the only place I could find it was New York. My inspiration for any of these shots is a master of B&W landscape Ian Bramham please take a look at his site to see what is possible with these. Truly outstanding!

  • Circular Polariser -  This will bring out the definition/contrast within your skies, clouds will really pop out against a blue sky. Reflections in water will be reduced allowing you to see details in river beds that you wouldn't have otherwise seen. The best way to get an idea what a CP will do for you is to put on a decent pair of sunglasses (Oakley, RayBan) look at what this does to the sky and the clouds. A circular polariser will do the same (to a lesser degree).

Apps

PhotoCalc - Quite a simple application that will tell you the time of Twighlight, Sunrise, Sunset, and even the current phase of the moon. Punch in your location and it'll give you the exact timings for today.

I have used this for some time, and I am sure that there are now better. It was cheap and has done the job for me. Perhaps its time to start looking at something a bit more advanced. For example Photofocus have an article about another application called Sunseeker, this uses augmented reality to overlay sun locations etc

Research

Finally, research... Before going anywhere new I will spend at least a couple of hours looking at images on Flickr, 500px, Google etc to get an idea of what I want and where I can go to get it. Lots of the photographs posted on these site now contain geotagging information. This is extremely useful and using this you can then take a look around Google Maps to identify how you can shoot from a similar, but different viewpoint.

Recently I have also stumbled across a useful site called shot hotspot this looks as though it could come in very handy and I am sure that I will refer to it in future. Input your location and it will come back with some photogenic locations or interesting locations nearby.

Conclusion

This is quick post of the things I think are important. I could go on and on.

The main thing to remember about outdoor photography is even if you come back with a memory card that has nothing useable on there. You have been outdoors getting fresh air, and relaxing. I find this one of my best ways to wind down after  busy week, and it is made even better when you come back with a  good image.

Please feel free to comment below or ask any questions. See you out there!