Today I want to give you four tips on how to make your natural landscape photos attractive and vibrant. First of all, it is good to make some considerations on the gender difference.
In the portrait, it is the figure/background relationship that gives weight to the photograph, and the difficult part is being able to bring out vitality from what is static. In the photos of natural landscapes, on the other hand, it can be simplified by saying that it is the light / dark ratio that makes the weight of the photograph and its essence lies in capturing what eternal nature manages to convey.
The natural landscape is probably one of the most difficult photographs because you have to understand what struck you about that image and you have to bring it out, which your brain does but the camera alone cannot do. This involves a few more precautions than simply framing and shooting while using all the necessary accessories. You need to transfer into the photo, the feeling you had looking at that scene when you wanted to stop its wonder forever.
DO NOT COMPLICATE THINGS
The first temptation that comes to you is to make a beautiful landscape photo perfect? To do this, you will most likely end up complicating the scene. Post-processing, retouching, application of filters, and other tricks, will make you lose sight of what caught your attention, that something that seemed unrepeatable in the landscape. Sometimes, we think that a beautiful image is sharp and to get it we end up with the opposite effect, making it cold and sterile. Creating a particular photo is a matter of composition and framing angle… but that’s not all.
The simplicity plays a vital role in the success of a photograph: the first aspect is the scene that we face. Objectively, there are simpler landscapes and others more complex, it depends on the spaces and the number of objects in the image.
In the event that we are faced with crowded shots, with a lot of vegetation, for example, focusing on detail can be decisive, as well as choosing the most suitable light effects. In addition to the scene, even different angles of the same photo can have different levels of simplicity: some will be clearer, more readable than others or on the contrary, more structured and complex.
The visual weight that you give to each element of the frame is another factor that leads to the success of a photo. You can simplify the scene, leaving a certain number of details in the shade (which can also be achieved by obscuring some areas in post-production) and highlighting other elements. Doing so eliminates distractions and focuses attention on certain focal points. The whole has the task of telling an emotion.
IN SEARCH OF THE MAGICAL MOMENT
The phrase “it is the light that impresses the plate ” is obsolete for those who use digital tools, but it does not change the concept. At the basis of photography is light and its power to highlight or blur objects, bring them forward or backward on the horizon, sculpt them like a bas-relief or make them evanescent.
This is also true in natural landscapes. You have surely noticed that a clear day deepens the horizon and brings out the contours of the details. Different seasons offer different lights because the inclination of the sun’s rays is different.
In the same way, the sun during the day is never at the same height, thus radiating differently the earth and your natural landscapes in front of you. A good exercise therefore will be to shoot on different days, once you have found the panoramic angle that tells you something special, during different hours of the day and, if possible, at different times of the year.
This means having a collection of shots under different light conditions: a work of patience, but the result may surprise you. Basically, you should know by now that sunlight is diffused by moisture into the atmosphere, and in the presence of clouds, it is possible to obtain excellent images, on days of fog and mist even at different times of the day.
The light can be surprising on stormy days, and the contrast can only be good for the image. On bright days, when the sun is higher in the sky, the blue radiation is greater and the angle of radiation will make the contrasts greater, even blackening some areas.
From a technical point of view, the wavelengths that are good for photography are those of red, orange, and purple. Soft light is obtained when the sun’s rays are not an incident, i.e. at sunrise and sunset. The duration of these moments varies during the seasons, longer during the winter, shorter in the summer.
But what to bring in natural landscape photography? Definitely a tripod: it allows the use of a slower shutter speed without getting blurry images, removes the risks of camera shake, and allows you to carefully optimize composition and perspective. In addition, in many cases it allows you to use low ISO values, thus avoiding the presence of noise in the photo.
Not sure which tripod to use or take? Click here to read a specific article! The long exposures have the merit of emphasizing the difficult colors to see with the naked eye. If you set up your camera to take the long pre-dawn exposures, the amount of color in the photo can be amazing.
For photos of natural landscapes, a polarizing filter is also recommended, to reduce annoying reflections or attenuate an annoying haze perhaps during the so-called ” golden hour “, ie at sunrise and sunset. The use depends on your position with respect to the sun and the degree of humidity. It is important to arrive early on site, certain degrees of illumination do not last long and the effects wear off quickly.
As difficult as the lighting conditions may be, it is always a good image. So, you just need to use the strengths of even the harshest sunlight to your advantage. In the middle of the day, when properly placed shadows can add interest rather than create confusion, especially if they serve to bring detail to the foreground.
Similarly, when the light is too uniform and gray, you can go in search of saturated subjects, which give color to the image.
A LOT OF COMMITMENT, FEW TOOLS?
Even a great landscape is made up of small details and it is their combination that creates a beautiful image. Framing with a wide-angle lens will give the viewer the feeling of being an integral part of the landscape itself while zooming in on the details will give a completely new perspective to the environment.
Using a wide-angle, you can create an interesting image: a low perspective with a stone or other element close to the lens, an uneven, degrading background, and a slow shutter speed. Using a telephoto lens instead, you need to work a little more on the composition. Many elements of the image are eliminated and over time we realize that the eye is trained to work by subtraction.
We will also proceed in the same way when working with the wide-angle. Zooming in, allows you to focus on a small part of the scene and requires much more attention to what falls within the frame: how much sky, what trees, how much undergrowth become fundamental questions. If we photograph only a small section of the surrounding landscape, we have to spend some time analyzing the scene, the “ point and shoot ” technique works little with this type of photo.
Certainly some cameras make the photographer’s job easier, and help him achieve the desired results. In principle, however, it is only a tool and the technology, which is constantly evolving, should at best intrigue you but not having it available should never and in no case be considered a limit to the expression of your potential. .
Especially within the hobbyist community, camera technology takes on less of a role than the art of photographing. In fact, the excellent technical performance of a camera neither finds a professional use nor can it help you make the job you are capable of doing with your SLR enjoyable. That work often means being in the right place, at the right time, judging how to frame the shot, after exercising the eye in search of the ” right ” detail.
A remote shutter release is an accessory worth investing in. Using it avoids the vibrations that inevitably occur when you press the camera’s shutter button. You can also choose a wireless system and the more sophisticated models allow you to use the continuous shooting mode. On long exposures and on very windy days, the strap should be removed from the camera. Then there are a number of smartphone applications that can be used in certain situations and they are those that give us not only weather information on each location but also indicate the time when the sun rises and sets.
GIVE MOVE TO NATURAL LANDSCAPES
Sometimes it can be a very personalized point of view to create a sense of movement for certain elements of the landscape, such as clouds or water. To achieve this, just play a little with the shutter speed and use the lens filters. With ND filters, i.e. neutral density filters, you can limit the amount of light the camera is capturing and you are able to use slower shutter speeds to achieve the desired effect.
With practice, you will get better results because you proceed by trial and error looking for the balance between shutter speed with the aperture to the right, the ISO value, and the strength of the filter necessary to obtain the desired effect. It is a simple but effective trick, which can give tone and character to the photograph, creating pleasant effects, such as the movement or the silky aspect of the water.
The ND filter is neutral gray and only lowers the exposure value. It can be used together with the polarizing filter, essential in the landscape designer’s kit, to avoid water reflections. The polarizing filter requires a certain amount of experience to get results on customizing a landscape. Revealing details hidden under the reflections or, on the contrary, emphasizing them is all a game of rotation of this filter.
Obviously, if you decide to try your hand at using the two filters at the same time, it is better to buy a filter holder system , or use slim filters, that are thin, to avoid annoying vignetting, especially with wide-angle lenses.