landscape photography tips
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14 Tips Untuk Memperbaiki Foto Landscape Anda by Yadi Yasin Mungkin tips-tips ini ada yang terkesan kuno, oldies dan kurang "revolutionized" tapi mungkin ini adalah tips-tips dasar yang bisa dipergunakan sepanjang masa, terutama bagi yang ingin memulai mendalami landscape Photography. Dari tips-tips dibawah akan juga menyinggung beberapa hal lain, seperti Rule of Third, Hyperfocal distance, dll yang hanya dijelaskan singkat krn bisa menjadi satu topik sendiri. Semoga berguna.
1. Maksimalkan Depth of Field (DoF) Sebuah pendekatan konsep normal dari sebuah landscape photography adalah "tajam dari ujung kaki sampai ke ujung horizon". Konsep dasar teori "oldies" ini menyatakan bahwa sebuah foto landscape selayaknya sebanyak mungkin semua bagian dari foto adalah focus (tajam). Untuk mendapatkan ketajaman lebar atau dgn kata lain bidang depth of focus (DOF) yang selebar2nya, bisa menggunakan apperture (bukaan diafragma) yang sekecil mungkin (f number besar), misalnya f14, f16, f18, f22, f32, dst.
Tentu saja dgn semakin kecilnya apperture, berarti semakin lamanya exposure. Karena keterbatasan lensa (yang tidak mampu mencapai f32 dan/atau f64) atau posisi spot di mana kita berdiri tidak mendukung, sebuah pendekatan lain bisa kita gunakan, yaitu teori hyper-focal, untuk mendapatkan bidang fokus yang "optimal" sesuai dgn scene yang kita hadapi. Inti dari jarak hyper-focal adalah meletakan titik focus pada posisi yang tepat untuk mendapatkan bidang focus yg seluas-luasnya yg dimungkinkan sehingga akan tajam dari FG hingga ke BG.
Dengan DoF lebar, akibat penggunaan f/20 dan pengaplikasian hyper-focal distance untuk menentukan focus
Masih dgn pengaplikasikan hyper-focal untuk mendapatkan DoF yg seluas2nya 2. Gunakan tripod dan cable release
Dari #1 diatas, akibat dari semakin lebarnya DOF yang berakibat semakin lamanya exposure, dibutuhkan tripod untuk long exposure untuk menjamin agar foto yang dihasilkan tajam. Cable release juga akan sangat membantu. Jika kamera memiliki fasilitas untuk mirror-lock up, maka fasilitas itu bisa juga digunakan untuk menghindari micro-shake akibat dari hentakkan mirror saat awal. 3. Carilah Focal point atau titik focus
Titik focus disini bukanlah titik dimana focus dari kamera diletakkan, tapi lebih merupakan titik dimana mata akan pertama kali tertuju (eye-contact) saat melihat foto. Hampir semua foto yang "baik" mempunyai focal point, atau titik focus atau lebih sering secara salah kaprah disebut POI (Point of Interest). Sebetulnya justru sebuah landscape photography membutuhkan sebuah focal point untuk menarik mata berhenti sesaat sebelum mata mulai mengexplore detail keseluruhan foto. Focal point tidak mesti harus menjadi POI dari sebuah foto.
Sebuah foto yang tanpa focal point, akan membuat mata "wandering" tanpa sempat berhenti, yang mengakibatkan kehilangan ketertarikan pada sebah foto landscape. Sering foto seperti itu disebut datar (bland) saja. Focal point bisa berupa berupa bangunan (yg kecil atau unik diantara dataran kosong), pohon (yg berdiri sendiri), batu (atau sekumpulan batu), orang atau binatang, atau siluet bentuk yg kontrast dgn BG, dst. Peletakan dimana focal point juga kadang sangat berpengaruh, disini aturan "oldies" Rule of Third bermain. Pada contoh foto dibawah, focal point adalah org berpayung yang berbaju merah
Focal point pada contoh foto dibawah adalah pada org berperahu disisi kiri Focal point adalah pada matahari dan pantulannya di sawah.
Focal point adalah petani dan kerbaunya.
4. Carilah Foreground (FG) Foreground bisa menjadi focal point bahkan menjadi POI (Point of Interest) dalam foto landscape anda.
Oleh sebab itu carilah sebuah FG yang kuat. Kadang sebuah FG yang baik menentukan "sukses" tidaknya sebuah foto landscape, terlepas dari bagaimanapun dasyatnya langit saat itu. Sebuah object atau pattern di FG bisa membuat "sense of scale" dr foto landscape kita.
Apapun bisa menjadi object yg kuat di FG, dari boat, rumput hingga batu & bintang laut 5. Pilih langit atau daratan Langit yang berawan bergelora, apalagi pada saat sunset atau sunrise, akan membuat foto kita menarik, tapi kita tetap harus memilih apakah kita akan membuat foto kita sebagian besar terdiri dari langit dgn meletakan horizon sedikit dibawah, atau sebagian besar daratan dgn meletakkan horizon sedikit dibagian atas. Seberapa bagus pun daratan dan langit yang kita temui/hadapi saat memotret, membagi 2 sama bagian antara langit yang dramatis dan daratan/FG yang menarik akan membuat foto landscape menjadi tidak focus, krn kedua bagian tersebut sama bagusnya.
Komposisi dgn menggunakan prisip "oldies" Rule of Third akan sangat membantu. Letakkan garis horizon, di 1/3 bagian atas kalau kita ingin menonjolkan (emphasize) FG nya, atau letakkan horizon di 1/3 bagian bawah, kalau kita ingin menonjolkan langitnya. Tentu saja hukum "Rule of Third" bisa dilanggar, andai pelanggaran itu justru memperkuat focal point dan bukan sebaliknya. Juga tidak selalu dead center adalah jelek
Pelangaran "Rule of Third" yang meletakkan horizon jauh di bawah, tapi justru menguatkan focal point
Pelanggaran Rule of Third yang membagi 2 sama antara langit dan bumi
Foto kiri : Apakah ini masuk dalam Rule of Third... karena 3 elemen, bumi, gunung dan langit atau justru membagi 2 sama bagian 2 sama bagian kalau dianggap hanya bumi dan BG (gunung + langit) ? Foto kanan : Apakan ini masuk dalam Rule of Third ... karena ada pengambilan angle dan komposisi yang memposisikan batu melintang scra horizontal dari ujung atas kiri ke ujung bawah kanan ?
6. Carilah Garis/ Lines/ Pattern Sebuah garis atau pattern bisa membuat/menjadi focal yang akan menggiring mata untuk lebih jauh mengexplore foto landscape anda. Kadang leading lines atau pattern tersebut bahkan bisa menjadi POI dari foto tersebut. Garis-garis, juga bisa memberikan sense of scale atau image depth (kedalaman ruang). Garis atau pattern bisa berupa apa saja, deretan pohon, bayangan, garis jalan,tangga, tepi danau/laut,dst. Hanya dengan seringnya melakukan hunting atau photo trip, kita akan terbiasa melihat lines?shape dan pattern yang terkadang tersamarkan atau berbaur dengan alam atau lingkungannya. Angle dan komposisi dapat memperkuat sebuah leading lines atau shape yang ada. Foto kiri : lines Foto kanan : pattern
Lines and shape
7. Capture moment & movement Sebuah foto Landcsape tidak berarti kita hanya menangkap (capture) langit, bumi atau gunung, tapi semua elemen alam, baik itu diam atau bergerak seperti air terjun, aliran sungai, pohon2 yang bergerak, pergerakan awan, dst, dapat menjadikan sebuah foto landscape yang menarik. Sebuah foto landscape tidak harus mengambarkan sebuah pemandangan luas, seluas luasnya, tapi sebuah isolasi detail, baik object yang statis maupun yg secara dinamis bergerak, bisa menjadi sebuah subject dari sebuah foto landscape. Untuk itu lihat #13.
8. Bekerja sama dengan alam atau cuaca Sebuah scene dapat dengan cepat sekali berubah. Oleh sebab itu menentukan kapan saat terbaik untuk memotret adalah sangat penting. Kadang kesempatan mendapat scene terbaik justru bukan pada saat cuaca cerah langit biru, tapi justru pada saat akan hujan atau badai atau setelah hujan atau badai, dimana langit dan awan akan sangat dramatis. Selain kesabaran dalam "menunggu" moment, kesiapan dalam setting peralatan dan kejelian dalam mencari object dan Focal Point seperti awan, ROL (ray of light), pelangi, kabut, dll.
9. Golden Hours & Blue hours Pada normal colour landscape photography, saat terbaik biasanya adalah saat sekitar (sebelum) matahari terbenam (sunset) atau setelah matahari terbit (sunrise). Golden hours adalah saat, biasanya 1-2 jam sebelum matahari terbenam (sunset) hingga 30 menit sebelum matahari terbenam, dan 1-3 jam sejak matahari terbit, dimana "golden light" atau sinar matahari akan membuat warna keemasaan pada object. Selain itu, saat golden hours juga akan membuat bayangan pada oject, baik itu pohon, atau orang menjadi panjang dan bisa menjadi leading lines spt yg disebutkan pada #6 diatas. Jika kita memotret pada saat golden hours sudah lewat, atau pada saat matahari sudah terik, biasanya hasilnya akan flat atau harsh lightingnya krn matahari sudah jauh diatas. Ini berlawananan dgn IR landscape photography yg tidak mengenal golden hours, dimana saat terbaik justru pada saat tengah teriknya matahari. Blue hours adalah beberapa saat, biasanya hingga 20-30 menit setelah matahari terbenam (sunset), dimana matahari sudah tebenam, tapi langit belum gelap hitam pekat. Pada saat ini langit akan berwarna biru. Jadi adalah kurang tepat, bahwa pada saat matahari sudah terbenam dan langit mulai gelap (oleh mata kita), kita langsung mengemas/beres2 gear/tripod kita. Justru pada saat ini kita bisa mendapatkan sebuah scene yang bagus dimana langit akan berwarna biru dan tidak hitam pekat. Biasanya dgn long exposure, awan pun (walau kalau kita lihat dgn mata telanjang sdh tidak tampak) masih akan terlihat jelas dan memberikan texture pada birunya langit. Sunrise
10. Cek Horizon Walaupun sekarang dgn mudah kesalahan ini dapat di koreksi dgn image editor tapi saya masih berkeyakinan "get it right the first time" akan lebih optimal. Ada 2 hal terakhir saat sebelum kita menekan shutter: - Apakah horizonya sudah lurus, ada beberapa cara untuk bisa mendapatkan horion lurus saat eksekusi di lapangan, lihat #12 - Apakah horizon sdh di komposisikan dgn baik, lihat #5 untuk pengaplikasian Rule of third. Peraturan/rule kadang dibuat untuk dilangar, tapi jika scene yang akan kita buat tidak cukup kuat (strong) elementnya, biasanya Rule of Third akan sangat membantu membuat komposisi menjadi lebih baik. Memang dgn croping nantinya di software pengolah gambar, kita bisa memperbaikinya. Tapi kalau tidak dgn terpaksa, lebih baik pada saat eksekusi kita sudah menempatkan horizon pada posisi yang sebaiknya.
Contoh foto dibawah adalah salah satu dr foto yang saya ambil amannya (save) untuk posisi horizon pada saat eksekusi. Oleh krn itu horizon saya letakkan pas ditengah saja, dgn harapan pada saat itu, saya bisa melakukan cropping nantinya (baik dicrop bagian atas atau pun bagian bawah).
11. Ubah sudut pandang/angle/view anda Kadang kita terpaku dgn sudut pandang atau angle yang umum kita lakukan, atau mungkin kalau kita mengunjungi suatu tempat yang sering kita lihat fotonya baik itu dimajalah atau website seperti di FN ini, kita menjadi "latah" dan memotret dgn angle yang sama. Banyak cara untuk mendapatkan fresh point of view. Tidak selamanya "eye-level angle" (posisi normal saat kita berdiri) dalam memotret itu yang terbaik. Coba dgn high-angle (kamera diangkat diatas kepala), waist-level angle, low level, dst, coba berbagai format horizontal dan/atau vertikal. Atau mencoba mencari spot atau titik berdiri yang berbeda atau tempat yang berbeda, misalnya dari atas pohon (ada memang fotografer senior yang saya kenal yang senang memanjat pohon untuk utk mendapatkan view yg berbeda, dan hasilnya memang berbeda dan unik), atau mencoba berdiri lebih ketepi jurang, atau bahkan tiduran ditanah... tentu saja dgn lebih mengutamakan keselamatan anda sendiri sbg faktor yang lebih utama dan menghitung resiko yang mungkin didapatkan. Satu hal yang harus dipahami, mencoba dengan sudut pandang yang berbeda tidak selalu otomatis gambar kita akan lebih bagus atau lebih baik, tapi begitu sekali anda mendapatkan yang lebih bagus, dijamin pasti berbeda dgn yang lain.
Dengan sering ber-experimen dgn berbagai angle, lama-kelamaan insting anda akan terlatih saat berada di lapangan untuk mendapatkan tidak hanya angle yang bagus, tapi juga berbeda. Jangan memotret berulang2 pada satu titik/spot. Cobalah untuk bergeser beberapa meter kesamping atau kedepan, atau bahkan berjalan jauh. Juga sesekali coba untuk menoleh kebelakang untuk melihat, kadang bisa mendapatkan angle yang menarik dan berbeda. 3-5 exposure/jepretan pada satu titik dan "move on, change spot, change orientation (landscape <-> portrait), look back, change lenses". Terutama jika anda sering travelling, baik itu ke tempat yang sudah umum atau ke tempat yang jarang di kunjungi fotografer. Ada kalanya kita ada pada suatu spot dimana foto dari lokasi itu sudah merupakan lokasi "sejuta umat" dimana ratusan bahkan ribuan fotografer pernah memotret di spot yg sama dan menghasilkan foto yang mirip atau beda-beda tipis. Gunakan foto-foto yang sering anda lihat tersebut sebagai referensi, pelajari dan aplikasikan tekniknya dan coba menemukan sesuatu yang berbeda. Make a difference.
12. Pergunakan peralatan bantu Penggunaan beberapa peralatan bantu dibawah akan sangat membantu untuk mendapatkan foto landscape yang lebih baik. CPL filter : untuk lebih memekatkan/ saturasi warna, memekatkan warna biru pada langit, menghilangkan pantulan, dst.
ND filter : Untuk menurunkan exposure, untuk mendapatkan slow exposure speed. Dari ND2, ND4, ND8. ND400 hingga ND1000 Graduated ND filter :Untuk menyeimbangkan exposure antara bagian atas dan bawah, misalnya antara langit dan daratan. Dari ND 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.6 hingga 1.2
Ada 2 type Graduated ND: Soft Edge & Hard Edge
Graduated color filter, seperti graduated Sunset, Graduated Tobacco, Graduated Blue Fluorescent, dsb, dengan berbagai kepekatan dan type (mirip dgn normal Graduated ND) Bubble level : Untuk mendapatkan horizon yang level/datar sempurna. Bisa juga menggunakan grid pada view finder atau menggunakan focusing screen yang mempunyai grid. Memang dgn semakin mudahnya penggunaan software dan semakin canggihnya feature software pengolah gambar untuk memperbaiki/koreksi kesalahan pada saat eksekusi yang bisa mengatasi kesalahan exposure atau kemiringan horizon, penggunaan alat2 tersebut diatas kadang terasa kurang diperlukan, tapi umumnya "get it right the first time" akan bisa menghasilkan foto yang lebih baik dan natural, dibandingkan kalau foto itu harus dipermak habis-habisan nanti hanya agar bisa tampak "baik". Jika sudah melakukan segalanya dgn baik dan benar, akan lebih terbuka luas lagi kemungkinannya untuk mengolahnya dgn lebih sempurna nantinya. Contoh foto penggunaan grad ND Pada foto kiri, digunakan Grad ND Hard-edge 0.9 dengan posisi batas gelap terang hampir level/ rata, sedangkan pada fotokanan, denganGrad ND soft-edge 0.6, tapi peletakan batas gelap terangnya dimiringkan (titled) sesuai batas2 tebing.
13. Lensa yang dipergunakan Kadang sering ada asumsi bahwa sebuah foto landscape itu harus menggunakan lensa yang selebar mungkin. Tapi dalam membuat sebuah foto landscape, semua lensa dapat dipergunakan, dari lensa super wide (14mm, 16mm, dst), wide (20mm - 35m), medium, (50mm - 85mm), hingga tele/super tele (100mm - 600mm). Semua range lensa bisa dan dapat dipergunakan. Semua itu tergantung atas kebutuhan dan scene yang kita hadapi. Lensa wide/super wide kadang dibutuhkan jika kita ingin merangkum sebuah scene seluas-luasnya dgn memasukan object yang banyak atau yang berjauhan atau ingin mendapatkan perspektif yg unik.Tapi kadang sebuah tele bisa
digunakan untuk mengisolasi scene sehingga lebih un-cluttered, simple dan focus. Jika tiba pada suatu lokasi/spot, usahakan mencoba dgn semua lensa yang anda bawa. Jangan terpaku pada satu lensa dan memotret berulang-ulang. Kadang diperlukan kejelian, untuk melihat dan mencari suatu bentuk unik atau pattern dari luasnya sebuah scene landscape, sehingga kita dapat meng-isolasi dgn menggunakan lensa yang tepat. Hanya dengan sering memotret dan menghadapi berbagai scene di berbagai kondisi yang dapat mengasah insting anda, baik itu object apa yang harus dicari ataupun lensa apa yg harus dipergunakan. Penggunaan lensa yg tidak standard seperti fish-eye (baik itu yang diagonal maupun yang full-circular) bisa juga mendapatkan view yang menarik, tentu dgn pengunaan pada saat yang tepat. Tidak selalu penggunaan fish-eye menghasilkan foto yg "bagus" walau memang berbeda. Contoh foto landscape dgn lensa 200mm
Contoh foto landscape dgn lensa 300mm
Penggunaan lensa fish-eye
14. Persiapkan diri dan sesuaikan peralatan Walau ini tidak berhubungan langsung, tapi kadang sangat menentukan. Sering kali kita membutuhkan research atau tanya dulu kiri kanan, baik itu dgn googling atau bertanya dgn fotografer yang sudah pernah kesana ke satu lokasi sebelumnya, terutama jika mengunjungi tempat yang berbeda jauh iklim maupun cuacanya, krn itu akan menentukan kesiapan kita baik fisik maupun peralatan yang harus dibawa, baik itu peralatan fotografi maupun peralatan penunjang. Cek ulang dan test semua camera dan lensa yang akan dibawa. Akan lebih baik kalau semua perlataan yang akan dibawa dalam keadaan bersih, baik itu lensanya, filter2 maupun kamera (sensor) nya. Membawa semua lensa yang kita punya kadang tidak bijaksana. Mungkin suatu trip hanya membutuhkan satu atau dua lensa saja, atau justru membutuhkan lebih dr itu krn kita sudah mempunyai gambaran atau informasi atau trip tersebut merupakan pengulangan trip yg sudah pernah dilakukan. Mengetahui alam dan lingkungan dan adat (jika ada penduduknya) dari lokasi pemotretan juga akan sangat membantu. Bahkan kadang dgn membawa peta (atau mungkin GPS) akan membantu kita menemukan suatu tempat atau spot, khususnya bila kita hunting di daerah ayng tidak ketahui atau lokasi yang kita tidak hapal. Hal lain yang tidak kalah penting adalah melindung seluruh peralatan yang anda bawa selama photo trip/hunting, baik itu hanya day-trip, overnight trip atau trip berhari-hari bahkan berminggu-minggu. Sebelum berangkat, pastikan anda memilki check-list perlaatan apa saja yg anda bawa. Catat juga semua model dan serial numbernya. Untuk kiat-kiat melindungi peralatan/gear anda: _ Simpanlah peralatan kamera anda dalam tasnya jika tidak dipergunakan. Beli dan pergunakanlah padlock/gembok dgn kualitas yang cukup baik untuk menguncinya. _ Jika anda menginap diasuatu hotel/ motel/ hostel, jangan tinggalkan peralatan anda tergeletak diatas meja atau di atas tempat tidur jika meninggalkan kamar, walau hanya sebentar, misal
untuk keluar makan. Masukkan kembali kedalam tas dan kuncilah. _ Jika anda menginap di suatu cottage (biasanya didaerah pantai) atau hotel dengan kamar dilantai dasar, dengan jendela yang dapat terbuka, jangan meletakkan tas anda dekat jendela, baik saat meninggalkan kamar atau pada saat anda tidur. Tas dapat dengan mudah di “kail/pancing” dari luar. _ Untuk peralatan lain seperti laptop, gunakan pengaman laptop , seperti kabel pengaman laptop (Notebook lock) buatan Kensington, jenis Microsaver, yang dapat di ikatkan/ dilingkarkan ke suatu benda yang fix/ tetap seperti meja kayu, atau tiang besi. _ Pengalaman saya di negara2 dunia ketiga (bukan Indonesia), tidak bijaksana untuk membawa backpack kamera anda untuk memotret. Biasanya yang saya lakuakan adalah saya menggunakan kamera bag hanya untuk media transportasi peralatan saya, missal dari satu kota/tempat ke tempat yang lain. Untuk hunting saya mempergunakan kamer a bag yang lebih kecil atau kamera holder seperti Toploader/Topload. Kadang2 didaerah yang rawan, adanya kamera backpack dipunggung anda hanya mengiklankan dan mengundang orang2 jahat. _ Jika anda terpaksa harus meninggalkan seluruh atau sebagian peralatan anda dalam tas backpack, baik dikamar hotel atau mobil, selain dikunci gembok/padlock, gunakan jaring besi pengaman seperti Pacsafe yang sangat kuat melindungi keseluruhan backpack anda dengan prinsip kerja yang sama seperti pelindung laptop yaitu dengan dikaitkan/lingkarkan kesuatu benda yang fix seperti tiang besi, kursi mobil, kayu tempat tidur atau meja. _ Sangat penting untuk mengetahui informasi tentang keadaan sekitar suatu tempat tujuan dari orang-orang setempat, baik tentang cara menuju kesana, situasi keamanan atau daerah yang harus dihindari, misalnya dari resepsionis, penjaga pintu/doorman, dll. Sering bertanya, sehingga multiple source adalah lebih berguna dari single source. _ Jangan malas-malas, untuk sering-sering melakukan check-count/list atas semua peralatan yang dibawa, misalnya setiap malam sebelum tidur, sambil bersih2 peralatan/lensa. Jadi kalau ada satu item yang hilang dapat diketahui lebih awal… bukannya pada akhir perjalanan setelah tiba dirumah atau meninggalkan tempat tersebut. #### END ####
11 Surefire Landscape Photography Tips by Darren Rowse
Photo by Auto matt
My first love in photography when I first got my trusty old Minolta SLR as a teenager was landscapes. There’s something about getting out in nature with the challenge of capturing some of the amazing beauty that you see. Perhaps it fits with my personality type - but I loved the quietness and stillness of waiting for the perfect moment for the shot, scoping out an area for the best vantage point and then seeing the way that the light changed a scene over a few hours. While I don’t get as much time as I’d like for Landscape Photography these days - I thought I’d jot down a few of the lessons that I learned in my early years of doing it. I’d love to hear your own Landscape Photography tips in comments below. Landscape Photography Tips 1. Maximize your Depth of Field While there may be times that you want to get a little more creative and experiment with narrow depth of fields in your Landscape Photography - the normal approach is to ensure that as much of your scene is in focus as possible. The simplest way to do this is to choose a small Aperture setting (a large number) as the smaller your aperture the greater the depth of field in your shots. Do keep in mind that smaller apertures mean less light is hitting your image sensor at any point in time so they will mean you need to compensate either by increasing your ISO or lengthening your shutter speed (or both). PS: of course there are times when you can get some great results with a very shallow DOF in a landscape setting (see the picture of the double yellow line below).
Photo by hkvam
2. Use a Tripod
As a result of the longer shutter speed that you may need to select to compensate for a small aperture you will need to find a way of ensuring your camera is completely still during the exposure. In fact even if you’re able to shoot at a fast shutter speed the practice of using a tripod can be beneficial to you. Also consider a cable or wireless shutter release mechanism for extra camera stillness. Related Reading - Introduction to Tripods Get more tips and tutorials like this one by subscribing to Digital Photography School via email or RSS 3. Look for a Focal Point All shots need some sort of focal point to them and landscapes are no different - in fact landscape photographs without them end up looking rather empty and will leave your viewers eye wondering through the image with nowhere to rest (and they’ll generally move on quickly). Focal points can take many forms in landscapes and could range from a building or structure, a striking tree, a boulder or rock formation, a silhouette etc. Think not only about what the focal point is but where you place it. The rule of thirds might be useful here. Related Reading - Focal Points in Photography
Photo by OneEighteen
4. Think Foregrounds One element that can set apart your landscape shots is to think carefully about the foreground of your shots and by placing points of interest in them. When you do this you give those viewing the shot a way into the image as well as creating a sense of depth in your shot. Related Reading: Getting Foregrounds right in photography 5. Consider the Sky
Another element to consider is the sky in your landscape. Most landscapes will either have a dominant foreground or sky - unless you have one or the other your shot can end up being fairly boring. If you have a bland, boring sky - don’t let it dominate your shot and place the horizon in the upper third of your shot (however you’ll want to make sure your foreground is interesting). However if the sky is filled with drama and interesting cloud formations and colors - let it shine by placing the horizon lower. Consider enhancing skies either in post production or with the use of filters (for example a polarizing filter can add color and contrast).
Photo by hkvam
6. Lines One of the questions to ask yourself as you take Landscape shots is ‘how am I leading the eye of those viewing this shot’? There are a number of ways of doing this (foregrounds is one) but one of the best ways into a shot is to provide viewers with lines that lead them into an image. Lines give an image depth, scale and can be a point of interest in and of themselves by creating patterns in your shot. Related Reading: lines in photography“>Using Lines in Photography (mini-series) 7. Capture Movement When most people think about landscapes they think of calm, serene and passive environments - however landscapes are rarely completely still and to convey this movement in an image will add drama, mood and create a point of interest. Examples - wind in trees, waves on a beach, water flowing over a waterfall, birds flying over head, moving clouds. Capturing this movement generally means you need to look at a longer shutter speed (sometimes quite a few seconds). Of course this means more light hitting your sensor which will mean you need to either go for a small Aperture, use some sort of a
filter or even shoot at the start or end of the day when there is less light.
Photo by 3amfromkyoto
8. Work with the Weather A scene can change dramatically depending upon the weather at any given moment. As a result, choosing the right time to shoot is of real importance. Many beginner photographers see a sunny day and think that it’s the best time to go out with their camera - however an overcast day that is threatening to rain might present you with a much better opportunity to create an image with real mood and ominous overtones. Look for storms, wind, mist, dramatic clouds, sun shining through dark skies, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises etc and work with these variations in the weather rather than just waiting for the next sunny blue sky day. 9. Work the Golden Hours I chatted with one photographer recently who told me that he never shoots during the day - his only shooting times are around dawn and dusk - because that’s when the light is best and he find that landscapes come alive. These ‘golden’ hours are great for landscapes for a number of reasons - none the least of which is the ‘golden’ light that it often presents us with. The other reason that I love these times is the angle of the light and how it can impact a scene - creating interesting patterns, dimensions and textures. 10. Think about Horizons It’s an old tip but a good one - before you take a landscape shot always consider the horizon on two fronts. Is it straight? - while you can always straighten images later in post production it’s easier if you get it right in camera. Where is it compositionally? - a compositionally natural spot for a horizon is on one of the thirds lines in an image (either the top third or the bottom one) rather than completely in the middle. Of course rules are meant to be broken - but I find that unless it’s a very striking image that the rule of thirds usually works here. Related Reading: Getting Horizons Horizontal
Photo by curious_spider 11. Change your Point of View You drive up to the scenic lookout, get out of the car, grab your camera, turn it on, walk up to the barrier, raise the camera to your eye, rotate left and right a little, zoom a little and take your shot before getting back in the car to go to the next scenic lookout. We’ve all done it - however this process doesn’t generally lead to the ‘wow’ shot that many of us are looking for. Take a little more time with your shots - particularly in finding a more interesting point of view to shoot from. This might start with finding a different spot to shoot from than the scenic look out (wander down paths, look for new angles etc), could mean getting down onto the ground to shot from down low or finding a higher up vantage point to shoot from. Explore the environment and experiment with different view points and you could find something truly unique.
4 Rules of Composition for Landscape Photography by Darren Rowse Photography Monthly Magazine (UK) had a useful feature on landscape photography in their April 2007 edition. As part of it they had a page outlining four basic compositional rules that can be used when framing landscape images. While I’m not always a fan of sticking strictly to the ‘rules’ of photography I think they are well worth knowing and keeping in the back of your mind as you shoot (whether it’s so you can follow them or break them for effect). Here’s the four ‘rules’ that they suggested are worth knowing (with a few of my own thoughts on each): 1. Diagonal Lines
Photo by Feuillu Using diagonal lines can be a very effective way of drawing the eye of those viewing an image into it and to the main focal point. The ‘lines’ need not be actual lines - they could be the shape of a path, a line of trees, a fence, river or any other feature in an image. Converging lines (two or more lines coming from different parts of an image to a single point) can be all the more effective. Read more about using Diagonal Lines in your digital photography. 2. Geometric Shapes Photo by Mattijn
“Positioning key aspects of a landscape on points of a geometric shape hep create a balanced composition.” Perhaps the most common and easiest way to do this is to use a ‘triangle’ shape between objects in an image with three objects in a frame positioned with one to each side and one more central. Using Geographic Shapes in this way isn’t something that I’ve done a lot of - but it is one technique to get balance in a shot and if you’re clever, to lead the eye into it (in a similar way to the diagonal lines rule above). You can see this illustrated (to a point) in the photomontage image to the right. 3. The Rule of Thirds
Photo by james_wicks The Rule of Thirds gets trotted out more often than any other in all types of photography and is one of the first rules of composition taught to most photography students. While sometimes it can feel a little cliche it can also be a very effective technique in landscapes (although keep in mind that breaking this (and other rules) can also produce dramatic and interesting shots). Position key points of interest in a landscape on the intersecting point between imaginary ‘third’ points in an image and you’ll help give your image balance and help those focal points to really capture attention. Read more about using the Rule of Thirds in composing your shots. 4. Framing Images
Photo by Leviathor While adding points of interest to a foreground is an important technique for adding interest to landscape shots - a similar technique is to ‘frame’ the shot by adding interest to other parts of the edges of an image. Perhaps the most common way of framing a landscape shot is to include an overhanging branch in the upper section of a shot. Similarly framing a shot with a bridge might work. Read more about Framing Images Rules are Made to Be Broken? Of course while knowing the rules can be important - knowing when to use them and when to break them is a talent that great photographers generally have.
Practice these techniques - but don’t get so worked up about them that they kill the creativity that you have. Let me finish with a quote about Rules of Photography from Photographer Edward Weston to help give us a little balance on the topic: “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk. Such rules and laws are deduced from the accomplished fact; they are the products of reflection.” Read more from our Composition Tips Category Urban Landscape Photography Tips Urban landscapes are one of my favourite photographic subjects. I just love the excitement and vibrancy of a busy city, and find that they are absolutely packed full of interesting subjects. The fast pace of change also means that there's always something new to photograph. The following tips describe how I go about photographing urban landscapes, and hopefully they'll help you to think more creatively next time you're out and about with your camera. Capture the Vibe
Capture the feel of your subject. Image by Thomas Hawk. Towns and cities often have their own unique 'feel' that makes them different from anywhere else. A successful urban landscape photo should capture this essence, but it isn't always an easy task. The key is to think about what the place means to you, how it makes you feel, and what places are special to you. Then look around for a way to introduce this feeling into your photo. It's the small details that can really add atmosphere to an urban landscape photo, so try to include them alongside the more obvious subjects such as impressive buildings or monuments. Things like an overflowing rubbish bin, a cracked pavement tile, or a traffic jam tell a story in themselves, and help to give your urban landscape shots context. Don't forget that the vibe of a city doesn't always need to be a positive one - sometimes you might
want to show just how dirty and unfriendly a place is. Your photos should always tell a story from your point of view - after all, urban landscape photography is just as much about self-expression as it is about showing off a town or city. Get Off the Beaten Track
The most interesting subjects are often found in the suburbs. Image by DetroitDerek. When photographing urban landscapes it is often our first instinct to head straight for the city's centre, because that's an obvious place of interest. But don't neglect the suburbs, because that's where some of the most intriguing photos can be found. These areas often have a fascinating collection of neglected, run-down buildings which are packed full of character. The suburbs are also the areas where you can find a lot of renovation and new developments as a city expands beyond its current limits. These projects tell a story of change and growth - something which is in stark contrast to the feeling of decay that went before. Photograph the Old and the New
The contrast between old and new makes a fascinating subject in itself. Image by swisscan. Most cities are in a state of constant change, with old buildings being torn down to be replaced with shiny new ones. Whether you see this as necessary
development or a tragic destruction of history, look for a shot that conveys your point of view. Another interesting feature of having old and new buildings next to each other is that you can capture some great photos showing their juxtaposition. For example, you might find an old church nestling in amongst modern skyscrapers. Put a New Spin on an Old Idea
Shoot common subjects in new ways. Image by Owen B. Some urban landscape photos have been shot in exactly the same way so many times that they begin to lose their interest and appeal. This is particularly true of famous landmarks, where people are so used to seeing them photographed in a certain way that they automatically do exactly the same themselves. Rather than getting sucked into the same trap, treat the subject as if you've never seen it photographed before, and spend some time thinking about how you want to capture it, and what features you find interesting. If you want to take this idea a step further you could completely ban yourself from taking the usual cliched shots, forcing yourself to be more creative. Time of Day
Many city streets are deserted early in the morning. Image by moriza. As with any naturally-lit subject, urban landscapes look dramatically different at different times of the day. But these differences extend beyond lighting to things like how much traffic there is and the number and type of people on the streets. For example, you'll find mostly commuters during the rush hour, shoppers in the middle of the day, and revellers at night. Each lends your shot a different feel and atmosphere.
Early morning is a great time for photographing urban landscapes because it's often the only time when the streets are almost empty. An empty city makes for an unusual, almost eerie scene, and allows you to focus your attention on the buildings and structures rather than the people.
Castle Photography Tips Castles make perfect subjects for photography - they're very grand buildings, usually set in stunning landscape, and covered with interesting details. But it is all too easy to come home with a memory card full of images that you've seen a hundred times before. Follow these tips to give your castle photography a bit of a shake up. Show the Surroundings Include surrounding scenery to add context.
Image by ingirogiro. Castles are very grand, lavish buildings, and that sense of grandeur often extends into the surroundings. Perhaps your castle sits overlooking miles of rolling hills, or maybe it is surrounded by an impressive moat. Including some of the surrounding scenery in your castle photography helps to give your castle some context, giving the viewer a better idea of what the area is like, and allowing them to imagine the sort of person who might once have lived there. Look For Interesting Details Castles are full of interesting details.
Image by Hugo*.
Castles are crammed full of fascinating objects which make great photographing subjects in their own right. Common examples are decorative gargoyles, intricate carvings, and rusting cannons. Be on the lookout for these interesting features, as they can add real character to your castle photography. Don't feel that every shot has to show the entire building - sometimes the best castle photos are those that are zoomed right in to show an interesting and easily overlooked detail. Capture the Atmosphere Sunrise and sunset are perfect times for castle photography. The low, directional lighting really brings out the details in the castle walls, and the vivid colours add drama to the scene. Early mornings can be a great time to photograph your castle surrounded by mist. This gives it an eerie, ghost-like feel.
Early morning mist adds a great deal of atmosphere to your castle. Image by Today is a good day. Use Symmetry Symmetry adds interest to your castle photo. Image by mike nl. A symmetrical composition conveys a feeling of power and importance, which is ideally suited to imposing buildings such as castles.
Castles are full of opportunities to photograph a symmetrical composition - archways and entrances are a particular favourite of mine because they invite the viewer to wonder what they might find on the other side. Use a Wide Angle
Wide angle lenses skew your castle's perspective. Image by gari.baldi. Using a wide angle lens for castle photography serves two important purposes: Firstly, from a purely practical side, a wide angle lens makes it easier to fit a large castle into your photograph without having to chop off the tops of towers.
Secondly, from a creative point of view, a wide angle lens skews the perspective, breaking up the rigid square lines, giving your castle a slightly distorted, sinister appearance.
How to Photograph Sculpture Whatever your personal taste, you will find some sculpture that appeals to you, whether it be ancient statues, modern metallic abstracts or anything in between. Regardless of which you prefer, there are certain techniques that you should follow to produce some truly stunning sculpture photographs. Put Your Own Spin on Things
Try to inject some of your own personality into your sculpture photography. Image by Thomas Hawk. An important question to ask yourself when photographing sculpture is whether you should try to show off the artist's vision by photographing the sculpture as accurately as possible, or whether you should capture it in a way that expresses what you see in it. Personally I think that both approaches have their place, but I prefer to put my own spin on things wherever possible - otherwise you can be left with a photo which is little more than a snapshot of somebody else's work.
Next time you're photographing sculpture, first make sure that you actually spend some time taking it in before you get your camera out. Wander all around it and examine it from different angles, and see what features and details stand out and interest you. Then base your composition around that. Don't be afraid to use an unorthodox camera angle, such as lying on the ground looking up, and don't feel you have to capture the entire sculpture - feel free to zoom right in on one particular area and crop everything else out. Lighting
The lighting on this sculpture adds depth to the photo. Image by Lorrie McClanahan. Sculpture is by its very nature a three-dimensional medium, and you should aim to reflect that in your sculpture photography. Lighting plays a key role in adding depth to a photo. Side-front lighting usually works best because it casts long shadows across the sculpture, picking out the contours and details on the sculpture's surface. The best time for this type of lighting is around sunrise and sunset, when the sun is low in the sky. If you don't have the option of choosing your lighting, remember that you still have the freedom to move around the sculpture and choose the most eye-catching angle to photograph from. It is often our first instinct to shoot sculpture front-on, from the most obvious viewpoint, but you might find that you can get much better lighting by shooting from the side, so be prepared to experiment. Background
Choose a composition with an uncluttered background. Image by metrogirl.
When choosing your composition, remember to think about the background - it's very disappointing to take what you think is a fantastic photo only to get home and notice a big distracting sign post in the background. A plain and uncluttered background usually works best for sculpture photography because it keeps the viewer's attention focused on the sculpture itself. If you're having trouble finding a plain background for your photo then try using a shallow depth of field. This will throw the background out of focus, reducing its impact significantly. Alternatively you might want to show your sculpture in the context of its surroundings, for example showing a statue in front of a stately home. This can add great interest to a sculpture photo but remember that the sculpture, not the background, should be the main focus of your shot.
6 Landscape Photography Tips Interesting landscapes can be found all around us, but what looks good in real life can often end up looking bland and flat in a photograph. The key to great landscape photography is photographing your landscape at a time of day that will enhance its natural beauty, and taking the time to choose a viewpoint and composition that convey real depth in your scene. Follow these six tips to shoot stunning landscapes first time.
Choose an Interesting Spot We are surrounded by opportunities for great landscape photography. Image by l'etrusco. We are surrounded by opportunities for great landscape photos, from rolling meadows to imposing mountains to arid desert scenes. Choose a local area of interest and set about fully exploring it, finding new and unusual ways to photograph it. Once you're at your location, and before you even take your camera out of its bag, look around for the best place to shoot from. It is all too easy to just arrive and set up your equipment in the most obvious place, but this is where everyone will photograph from. Instead, try to find a different view of your chosen landscape. You will often find that you can include more foreground interest by moving a few steps to the side, or create a better composition by clambering on top of a rock. Foreground, Middleground and Background
Include interest in the foreground, middleground and background to create depth. A landscape with depth is always more engaging than one which appears flat. Include elements in the foreground, middleground and background to add depth to your photo, and to invite the viewer to explore the scene in their mind. (Also see Creating a Sense of Depth in Your Photos). Use a narrow aperture to maximise the depth of field, so that all areas of your landscape photo are in sharp focus. Of course by narrowing your aperture you increase the required exposure time, so be sure to mount your camera on a sturdy tripod. Using a wide angle exaggerates your landscape's perspective, enhancing the feeling of depth in the photo. It also has the added benefit of increasing your depth of field, bringing more of you landscape into focus. Lead the Eye Compose your landscape photo so that a natural feature leads the viewer's eye into the scene from the foreground. Perfect examples include a meandering stream or a line of trees moving into the distance. Time of Day
Morning and evening provide the most dramatic light for your landscape. Image by christopherdale. The start and end of the day are the best times for landscape photography. The low, directional lighting creates interesting shadows, bringing out the details in the landscape, and the colour of the sky adds atmosphere. Avoid the midday sun if possible. The bright sunlight at this time of day creates a lot of contrast in your photo, making it easy to lose detail in the highlights
or shadows, or both. The harsh overhead light at this time of day also tends to flatten the details in your landscape, making it even more challenging to capture a sense of depth in your photo. Use a Polarising Filter
A polarising filter will enrich the colours in your landscape scene. Image by Lastexit. Many landscape photographers swear by their polarising filter, and for good reason - they really do work wonders on landscape photos, turning the sky a rich blue, bringing out the lush greens in surrounding foliage, and eliminating distracting reflections. As well as a polarising filter, you may consider using a graduated neutral density filter. These filter the light to a varying degree along their length, and are perfect for reducing the contrast between the land and the sky. Bear in mind that any filters you use will increase the required exposure time, making a tripod even more important. Cut Out the Sky If you are faced with a dull, featureless sky, consider cutting it out of your landscape altogether. Doing so creates a more unusual photo (we are used to seeing the sky in landscape photography), and also draws your attention back towards the landscape itself.
A Guide to Architectural Photography Architecture is a broad subject, and one that surrounds us on a daily basis. It comes and no surprise then that it is also a very popular topic in photography. But despite its diversity there are a number of simple rules that apply in most situations, or will at least get you thinking more deeply about how you can best portray a particular piece of architecture. Old Architecture Old architecture looks best with a simple composition
When photographing old architecture, a straightforward and simple composition usually works best, showing the natural beauty and elegance of the building. It usually helps to include some of the surrounding scenery to give context to the architecture and make it feel less cramped. Modern Architecture Use a more abstract style for modern architecture. When photographing modern architecture you can get away with using a much more modern, abstract style. Experiment with wide angle lenses to produce extreme perspective, or photograph the building from unusual angles. Also, because modern buildings are often squeezed in very close to one another, you can crop in tightly on the building without making the photo feel unnatural.
Put Your Architecture in Context... or Don't Include some scenery to put your architecture in context.
The question of whether to show your building's surroundings depends on the situation and the message you want to convey. Ask yourself whether putting your building in context would add to or detract from the photo. If the scenery compliments your building then shoot a wider photo, but if the surroundings don't fit with the message you want to convey, cut them out.
As an example consider an old building in the middle of a modern city. If you wanted to capture this sense of not belonging then it would be important to include some of the surrounding modern buildings. But if you just want to emphasise the beautiful old architecture then the newer buildings would only detract from the photo, so you should crop them out. Lighting
Front-side lit shots bring out detail and depth. Image by Gianni D. Lighting is a crucial part of architectural photography. Of course we have no say over the position and orientation of a building, and lighting the building ourselves is usually out of the question (not to mention expensive!). Instead we have to make do with what nature provides. Side-front lighting usually produces the best architecture photos. It provides plenty of illumination and also casts long, interesting shadows across the face of the building, making its surface details stand out and giving the building a more three-dimensional look. Back lighting is the worst kind for architectural photography because it creates very uniform, dark surfaces. The best way to deal with a backlit building is to either crop out the sky and use a longer exposure to rescue some of the detail, or photograph the building as a silhouette. Alternatively you could wait until it gets dark... Shoot at Night
Some buildings really come to life at night. Image by Stuck in Customs. Even the most boring architecture can come alive at night - in fact many modern buildings and city centres are designed specifically with night time in mind. After dark these buildings are lit by dozens of lights which bring colour and vibrancy, and cast fantastic shadows across the face of the building. When photographing architecture at night be sure to use a tripod and set your camera to its lowest ISO setting to reduce digital noise to a minimum. Reduce Distortion by Using a Longer Lens
Use a telephoto lens to flatten the perspective and eliminate distortion. Image by alvazer. If you photograph a building from too close it can leave the walls looking distorted, as if the whole building is bulging outwards. Although this can be an interesting effect in itself, we usually want to reduce it so that it doesn't become distracting. By using a telephoto lens and photographing your architecture from further away you will find that your building's walls and lines appear acceptably straight. You can also use a telephoto lens to create some great abstract effects. By photographing your architecture from a long way away and using a long focal length lens, you will flatten the perspective, making the lines of the building appear parallel, giving your photo a slightly surreal feel. Pick Out Interesting Details
Look for interesting details on your architecture. Image by Aghman.
Most architecture is covered with small-scale details which make fascinating photos in their own right - from ornate windows to patterns of rivets to decorative cornices. Be on the lookout for these details and crop in tightly on them for a more intimate photograph that conveys the character of the architecture. It's Not Just About Buildings
Architecture covers a lot more than just buildings. Image by Lab2112. When photographing architecture it is easy to get stuck in the mindset that 'architecture equals buildings'. Of course this couldn't be far from the truth, and in fact most man-made structures come under the architecture umbrella - bridges, towers, windmills, monuments, and even lamp posts. Think laterally and see if you can find some interesting photos that most people would miss.
Beach Photography Tips Whenever I go on holiday, one of the things I love to do most is just grab my camera and head out for a day snapping anything and everything in sight. I particularly love beach photography, because there's such a wide range of photos to be had in such a small area. These are the tips I use to help me capture some great beach photos. Find an Interesting Subject
Find a point of interest and base your photo around that. Image by Jim's outside photos. When photographing beaches it can be our first instinct to just point the camera at a large expanse
of sand or sea and shoot away. While this might look great at the time, it usually produces a disappointing, flat-looking photo which lacks an interesting focal point.
Therefore the first thing to do is find something of interest which will act as the main feature in your beach photo, and then base your composition around that. Here are some ideas: Sand - Being a soft substance, beach sand is constantly being pushed by the waves, blown by the wind and trampled under foot, creating an ever-changing array of interesting shapes and textures. Look for eye-catching dunes, or channels where water is flowing back to the sea. Also consider man-made sand structures such as sand castles and sculptures, and find a way to base your beach photo around them. Beaches are full of interesting subjects. Image by fotos_celtes. Rocks - Beaches are full of rocky areas, from craggy cliffs to clusters of rock pools to smooth, wave-worn pebbles. Each has a distinct appearance and a different visual appeal. A personal favourite of mine is taking a close-up photo of some rounded pebbles in the wet sand. Debris - The ocean washes all sorts of interesting debris onto beaches, such as chunks of driftwood or intricate shells. You can photograph them as they lie, or arrange them into a more abstract pattern for a close-up shot. Wildlife - Beaches are packed full of wildlife if you look in the right places. Rock pools are often teeming with creatures, such as starfish, crabs, barnacles and birds, which can make great beach 'character studies'. Water - Of course water is an important part of any beach, and can really add to a photo. Crashing waves, streams and tranquil pools all make perfect focal points.
Man-made objects - Most beaches, particularly in touristy areas, contain some man-made structures, such as beach huts or fishing boats. Because they are constantly exposed to the elements they're often quite battered by the weather, giving them bags of character. Composition
Lead the viewer's eye into your beach scene. Image by BURNBLUE. As with any type of photography, composition is an important part of beach photography. Look for a composition which will lead the viewer's eye into the scene. This can often be best achieved by including some sort of foreground interest, or by using leading lines, such as the curving shore line or a trail of seaweed, to create a path into the photo. When shooting a beach photo which includes the sea and sand, remember the rule of thirds and place the horizon off-centre in the frame. This creates a more balanced, natural looking shot than if you were to place the horizon smack bang in the middle of the frame. Also make sure your horizon is straight. Lighting
Sunrise and sunset give the most dramatic lighting. Image by cuellar. Most people photograph beaches in the middle of the day, when the sun is glaring The problem with this is that it can produce some very harsh lighting, with very bright highlights and very dark shadows. This will give you a photo with lots of contrast,
making it easy to lose detail in either the bright or dark areas. Instead, try shooting around sunrise and sunset for a softer light quality with less contrast. These times of day also produce some fantastic colours, with long shadows that bring out the beach's texture, adding depth. Use a Polarising Filter Polarising filters work wonders in beach photography, enhancing the rich blue of the sky and generally making the colours more bright and vivid. They can also be used to affect the appearance of water - turn the filter one way to reduce reflections, allowing you to see right through the water to the sea bed, or turn it the other way to increase the water's 'sparkle'. Getting the Right Exposure
Exposure can be tricky to get right in a beach photo. Image by phitar. Sand, like snow, is a highly reflective substance, sending a lot of light to your camera's sensor. If you put your camera in auto exposure mode it will often over-compensate for this brightness, underexposing and leaving you with a dark and dull beach photo. Try adding a stop of so of exposure compensation to restore the natural vibrancy of your beach shots. For areas with lots of contrast, such as the border between brightly lit sand and a shadowy area, you probably won't be able to exposure both areas properly. Choose which area you want properly exposed and use spot metering to make sure it comes out right. Shooting your beach photos away from the bright midday sun will also help you to expose the whole scene properly. Protect Your Camera from Sand One of the surest ways to kill your camera is to get sand inside it. Keep this in mind at all times when shooting beach photos and do your best to protect it - always wear the safety strap around your wrist or neck so you don't drop it, put it in its protective bag whenever you aren't shooting, and never, ever put it down in the sand.
Photographing Dramatic Skies
Nature provides us with dramatic skies on a daily basis, making them a popular subject in photography, but it isn't always easy to capture their full potential. With a little thought and some practice you'll be photographing dramatic skies with ease. Use these tips to give you a head start. Time of Day
Sunrise and sunset provide the most dramatic skies. Image by F.j. This is by far the most influential factor when photographing dramatic skies. Nature provides a wide variety of colours and light quality each day, leaving you spoiled for choice. Sunrise and sunset generally give the most dramatic skies - the combination of strong colours and low, directional lighting is perfect for creating a photo with bags of atmosphere. Conditions around these times of day also tend to change rapidly, allowing you to capture a wide range of photos in a short period of time. You can also get some great sky photos around midday, particularly on a sunny day when the sun really brings out the bright, vivid colours in the sky and surrounding landscape. Include Clouds Include clouds and other objects to add interest to your sky scene. Image by kamneed.
When photographing the sky it is often our first instinct to look for a clear patch. But in reality this usually produces a boring photo - just an endless expanse of flat colour. Clouds add interesting shapes and textures to your photo, and help to break up the monotone flatness of the sky with changes in colour. They give the viewer something to actually look at in the scene, rather than just an empty, soulless sky. Interesting Objects
In the same way that clouds add interest to your sky photos, so do other objects, such as buildings, landscapes, mountains, birds, planes and so on.
These additional objects can add depth to your scene, and will also put your sky into some sort of context, so that it is no longer so separate and abstract (Of course, if you're aiming for an abstract shot, feel free to ignore this!). Use a Wide Angle Using a wide angle exaggerates the depth in your scene, adding drama. Image by redmann. Using a wide angle lens, or zooming out, exaggerates the perspective in your scene, giving the impression that the clouds are rushing dramatically overhead. A wide angle will also allow you to capture more variation in light and colour, particularly at sunrise or sunset. White Balance Your camera's white balance setting is critical in determining how the colours of your scene appear in the final photo. Choose the wrong setting and they will look completely different to how they did to you at the time. Most cameras offer white balance presets - try using the sunset or daylight setting as a starting point, but experiment to see which produces the most dramatic and eye-catching result.
Creative Grass Photography We take grass so much for granted that we often overlook it as a potentially fascinating subject in our photography. But its abundance and variation can make it perfect for practicing your creative talent. Types of Grass
Experiment with photographing different types of grass. Image by samk. Grass comes in a huge range of varieties, all with different characteristics - short and regimented, tall and tangled, thin, thick, different shapes, densities and colours, some with heads, some without heads, and so on. Go for a walk and see just how many different types of grass you can find; don't feel you have to limit yourself to photographing the grass growing on your back lawn. Experiment With Angles
See if you can find an interesting angle to shoot from. Image by DRB62. Because grass is so accessible, we usually have full range of motion around it. Experiment with different viewpoints to achieve different effects - low and close to show all the intricate details and textures; peering through the grass, perhaps towards another object; or looking down from above to emphasise the patterns it forms. Zoom in as far as you can to capture the fascinating textures and lines on an individual blade. This usually produces a more interesting photo than one of a large expanse because it offers us a much closer view than we are used to, inviting us to study and explore the photo. Challenge the viewer - play with your camera, turning it at an angle, sideways, or upside down. This gives the grass a more abstract appeal, and engages the viewer more because it isn't immediately obvious what the photo is of. Colour Grass comes in a variety of colours other than green. Image by gemmafactrix.
Colour is very important in photography, and grass has it in spades - from lush greens to fiery reds to pastel yellows and more. Consider the colours you'll be including in your photo. Do you want it to be composed of variations of a single colour or many different ones? Should they complement each other or do you want to use contrasting colours to add a focal point to the image? By shifting your position and reframing the shot you can achieve the desired effect. Texture and Detail
Get up close to capture interesting textures and details. Image by bhermans. One of the most intriguing aspects of grass photography is the variety of interesting textures and details available for you to work with - from the lines on an individual blade, to the way several blades entwine, right up to the patterns formed on a large lawn when it is mowed. Examine your grass at all levels - from far away to very close up - to see what stands out for you. Then base your viewpoint and composition around this interesting feature. Light
You can control the lighting by carefully choosing the time of day and shooting direction. Image by Seymore Sinn. Due to the nature of grass (outside!), you'll most likely be limited to using natural sunlight. But you can still achieve a great deal of control over the lighting by choosing the time of day, and adjusting your viewpoint to control the light's direction. To bring out the detail and texture in your grass, light it from the front or side. If you want to focus on the grass's shape, use back lighting to reduce the prominence of the textures, or even to create a silhouette. A bright, sunny day will give you a photo with vivid colours and high contrast, while a duller, overcast day gives a softer light. Early morning and evening
are both perfect for photographing grass silhouettes. For even more control over your lighting, use a simple piece of plain white paper or card as a reflector. Include Other Objects
Include additional interest to add a focal point to your grass photo. Image by moog. Including objects of additional interest helps to create a focal point in your photo. From dew to insects, from people to the sky, the choice is endless, so pick something that reflects the mood of your scene, and your personality. If you can't find any natural points of interest, feel free to cheat and introduce your own objects into the scene!