When you earn a living behind a camera people often assume you want to get away from it during your downtime, but I couldn't imagine a day without creating something and my camera is my favorite tool.
Over the last few years I have really gotten serious with my landscape photography - and I want to share some of the things that I wish someone had reminded me of when I was first starting out.
- Scouting. Rarely is it that I will happen upon a picturesque location. I like explore locations in person so that I can look into unique angles, observe where the sun will rise and set and checking for other things that will impact the scenery (like tide charts). One of my little secrets is the Sun Trajectory app to see exactly where the sun will be and when it will be there.
- Set your alarm. Most of the time I am getting up an hour or two before the sun to reach my destination and be setup when the lighting is right. The point here is epic light won't wait for you, get there early and stay late.
- Use a Tripod. To get the sharpest images possible I usually stop my aperture down to f/11 or f/16 which can push my shutter speed into the seconds, having a steady tripod makes it possible to capture longer exposures without sacrificing sharpness. It also gives you a very accurate way to adjust your composition if you are shooting in the dark, and it also doubles as a weapon if you are shooting in a sketchy part of the world.
- Shutter release cable. Not only does this allow you to trigger your camera without physically touching the shutter (which can cause slight movement on the camera) it will also let you keep your camera shutter open for longer than the internal shutter limit (usually 30 seconds).
- Lee filters. Another tool in my bag is a set of Lee Filters use to reduce the amount of light coming into my camera allowing me to use smaller apertures and slow down the shutter. My favorite is the Lee Big Stopper which reduces the amount of light coming into your camera by 10 stops.
- Lens hood. I always use a lens hood for landscape photography! This helps keep unwanted light from reflecting off of your lens but also protects your glass from getting wet if you are working in soggy conditions.
- Color correction. A questions I get asked often is "how do you fix the colors in your landscape photos?". I have read a lot of books on color - what it means, how to adjust it, how to mix it. For me, the natural color of a landscape is usually best, I try to stay out of a naturals scenes way and let that natural color show.
- Mix it up. I have friends that don't go to the same location... the more times you visit the same location the more creative you get to be. You get to mix it up and play with different weather patterns or lighting. Give yourself time to play outside of the lines, go back to a spot that you like, make it a spot that you love.