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05-17-2019, 04:25 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Landscape photography (getting started)

Goooood morning ladies and gentlemen!

TL;DR -- I would like to try my hand at some landscape photography. I have tried in the past, but let's face it, I'm not good at it. I'm barely mediocre, and I'd like to improve!

The problem is that my images just aren't interesting - sure, I can go for a walk and say "hey, that looks nice!" and grab a shot of it - but it later on when I come to look at it, it just lacks something. Even when I settle down around a specific location and try to capture something, unless there is something really obvious, chances are my scene will lack an interesting focal point.

As an example of what I mean, there is a field near my work.

It's a lovely place - it was earmarked as an industrial plot but never got developed. As a result, it's home to some ankle-high wildgrass, and a row of trees - but it very relaxing - but whenever I try to photography it, it's just... boring. I can't convey the tranquility of the scene, and the field has no real features to distract from my boring picture. The trees are a little more varied - but again, there isn't much to focus on. Sorry, I should be more specific - I can't find anything to focus on - and looking out the window at it now, the best I can see is a tree that's a bit taller than the rest, and the clouds in the background (which today are a pretty featureless collection of fairly smooth clouds with little contrast between them).

It may just be a mostly featureless scene - but at the same time - it may just be me.

See, on one hand, I like that there isn't nothing going on there - as I said, it's tranquil - but I just can't seem to capture it's serenity - and I suspect that's all on me, rather than the scene.

I find this a common theme when I am trying to do landscape photography - not necessarily in conveying tranquility, but in conveying anything! Unless there is an obvious focal point (like an interesting rock, or rock outcropping, lone tree, animal, etc) then my scene will just feel featureless. Obviously, this is where things like leading lines and diagonals could come into their own - but Im finding it hard either to find them in the first place, or to emphasise them once I find them.

Any tips would be appreciated! In the meantime, I'm going to have a good read-up on the DPS website, and I seem to recall I have a few ebooks/pdfs on composition and "inspiration" that I'd like to take a gander at!

05-17-2019, 05:09 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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We all started out exactly where you are now, and anyone who says he just happened to pick up a camera one day and immediately knew how to do it all is lying. Getting better at it is just a matter of practice, some merciless self-criticism, more practice, looking at photos that you admire taken by others, then more practice, more merciless self-criticism, and then some more practice.

Posting some shots of the field in this thread would be a great place to start, and it might produce some ideas about composition and light that could suit the scene. Even the most superficially boring landscape can look amazing in the right light, and even the most amazing landscape can look dull in boring light.

And no, buying more gear is not the solution.
05-17-2019, 05:36 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
Any tips would be appreciated!
+1 to what Dave just said. A new lens won't help you until you have exhausted the possibilities with what you have already.

Here are some things to try:

As Dave pointed out photography is ALL about the light. Go to your field at sunrise and sunset, and see the difference, not just with the colour of the light but the way low raking sunlight changes textures, form, and shadows.

Use the widest end of your lens (I am presuming a zoom), and get in close to an object like a rock or perhaps the wild grass, focus on that and have that be your foreground interest. Experiment with narrow depth of field and wide depth of field and see which you like best. Get down low for the shot. Present your viewer with a scene that they would not see from normal height.

take a tripod with you and do some shots using a slow shutter speed. If there is a little wind you can have the trees as the background, and the grasses closest to you performing a dance as they get blurred by your slow speed.

Last edited by pschlute; 05-17-2019 at 05:44 AM.
05-17-2019, 05:39 AM   #4
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Oh, Boy, Am I there and doing *That!!*.. I've heard landscape is one of the hardest forms of photography...

Signed up with "Light" for advice and critique. It's helping.

There are some well seasoned photographers there that can point out things I totally miss.
Good Luck )

05-17-2019, 05:51 AM   #5
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My boring field photo when I was getting started. Not a great photo but the light fog and sun changes the mood. I see with checking various times of day for different lighting. I think light fog adds drama.

05-17-2019, 06:01 AM - 5 Likes   #6
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Here are three images of the same view. The first does no more than record the scene. The second adds foreground interest. The third meant getting up early.
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05-17-2019, 06:33 AM - 1 Like   #7
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There are many, maybe too many, You Tube videos about landscape photography. Most will have a promo about their "course" and/or workshops but will have a lot of info/opinion about composition, lighting, and a kit. I would not take anything on faith but rather use the ideas to test technique and as components to build your own way of getting it done.
05-17-2019, 06:40 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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Lots of great comments above. I would add that there are lots of great YouTube videos on doing landscape photography to help get you up to speed faster. You don't need all the gear they have except for maybe a tripod. Nor do you need to go to the places they do. Most of my landscape photography is done within an hour from home or a slight detour on my commute.

Some YouTubers i like to watch:
Thomas Heaton
James Popsys

05-17-2019, 11:39 AM - 1 Like   #9
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My advise:
Find some landscape pictures that you think are good. Study them. Analise how they were made. Ask yourself: what is the camera position, where is the light source, what is the quality of light, what is the angle of view?

Some hints:
Bad weather makes for good pictures--clear blue skies are boring.

Many photographers use a near/far compositional approach. The foreground grabs immediate attention, then the eye is led to the center of focus.

Lens choice:
Most people see with the 'normal' angle of view ie 35mm or so on a crop, 50mm on FF. If you want to dramatize a scene, use something that gives an other than normal angle of view, either wide angle or telephoto.
05-17-2019, 01:46 PM - 5 Likes   #10

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I guess to me, it starts with the light, followed by the subject and then the composition. Others have said it here, but sunrise and sunset will give you better light. If there are a few clouds, it will tend to give even more color and interest to the scene.

Then, you have to decide on what you are taking a photo of. Are there some interesting stones? Is there a log or a tree or anything with a leading line?

Finally, there is composition. You probably know this, but probably it is best to generally not center things. If you have a tree that you are capturing, put it to one side. Try not to put your horizon right in the middle of the image (and decide while doing this if the sky is more interesting or the foreground and frame accordingly). I like to use a tripod because it makes me take my time when thinking about composition and allows me to use lower iso than I might at sunrise. I guess the final thing I would mention is that I would try to get higher or lower than you normally stand to take your image. Different perspectives often make for interesting images.

After you come home, try to analyze your images. Think about what works and what doesn't. It seems like you can often learn more from a bad image than from a good one.

05-18-2019, 02:13 AM - 1 Like   #11

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In landscape photography if you want mind blowing landscape shots then where you live matters. If you do not live in place with mind blowing landscape, you have to travel. If you are happy with moderate landscape shots, then you may be able to find wherever you live.

To capture tranquillity, i suggest going there during sunset. There should not be more shades between light and dark. Try doing video once, see if it is able to capture.

Other options are. Use CPL filter, it makes colors pop out. Shoot right after rain. Focus on macro shots, like rock with nice texture, barks etc..

Last edited by pentaxfall; 05-18-2019 at 02:24 AM.
05-18-2019, 04:14 PM   #12
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Maybe what you're trying to do isn't actually "landscape photography". Maybe it's some kind of photography that you're trying to realize for which we have no name yet. It seems to me that it's like being pregnant - there's something in you that wants to burst out, and you're having trouble allowing it to happen because you're pigeon-holing the experience under the "landscape" rubric.

QuoteOriginally posted by cprobertson1 Quote
Goooood morning ladies and gentlemen!

TL;DR -- I would like to try my hand at some landscape photography. I have tried in the past, but let's face it, I'm not good at it. I'm barely mediocre, and I'd like to improve!

05-20-2019, 04:30 AM   #13
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Whoops! Sorry! I thought I had replied already!

It was just a quick message saying that I've read all the comments and will respond properly once I find the time! Plenty of good tips here for me to get my teeth into (particularly anent lighting! I've been neglecting my lighting - especially golden/blue hours! Whoooops.... my bad

Thanks for all the help so far! I'll get back to you all properly soon hopefully!
05-20-2019, 07:03 AM   #14

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My landscape photography learning curve (I'm still learning) was helped by repeated visits to photograph the same lighthouse. I went at sunrise, sunset, night, clear skies, clouds, etc. and figured out how to work with or work around the light and weather.

Learn to use apps such as The Photographers Ephemeris (free website as well as a paid app) and Sun Surveyor. They can help you predict light and shadow lines.
05-20-2019, 10:44 AM - 1 Like   #15

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Being good at landscape shooting is a lot of work and planning. Like what was said above; you must travel to find the best scenes to put in front of your camera. Predicting a scene is essential for being in the right place at the right time. I have been in locations where I though to myself; this would be great with snow.... and would wait for snow cover and return and shoot it. It's always best to shoot a scene that has "wow factor". The scene must have an emotional response from you to be able to have a positive response from viewers of your work.

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