Black and White · Camera · Landscape Photography · Photography Blog · Productivity · Tips

Landscape Photography: A League of its Own

‘Zigi, Cyprus: a quintessential and a picturesque fishing Village.’ Mono conversion in Photoshop with additional levels and sharpening adjustments were made.

Last post, I discussed the genera of black and white photography and as I was prepping for my next blog I realised, why not continue the thread and share some of my own black and white work and also discuss landscape photography. For many people new to the world of photography, one of the easiest and most accessible area first explored with a new camera is the great outdoors. One doesn’t need a ton of gear or a fancy studio set up ! There is plenty of available natural light, which according to my own experience is the best kind. So put on your best walking shoes and on a beautiful spring morning equipped with your camera, let’s begin our adventure. But before you do, why not take a quick look at our essential photography tips.

Although there is no right or wrong to shooting landscape, there are a few tips that can elevate your shot and have them stand out against the general background noise of countless dull photos.Landscape are an excellent subject to convert into black and white. Look at the work of Ansel Adams and his iconic black-and-white landscape images which helped establish photography among the fine arts.

Landscape Photography Tips

  1. Research your location
Photo by Vojta Kovau0159u00edk on Pexels.com

Take time to research your shooting location if you have not been there. Google Earth and google street view are good options. Not all information that comes up may be useful but some images of other photographers may pop up and that will give you a heads~up as to whether it is an easy or difficult place to reach. There may be tips concerning local regulations and best places to photograph~ so do your research before you hit the rubber !

2. Use appropriate app

Image courtsey Sunset Magazine

There are apps available that can tell you where the sun will be at any point on a given day. These apps can overlay information on a map of your given destination, showing where the sun will rise and set. This is good to know information as you can work out the best time to shoot . Shooting near sunset is a good idea especially black and white photography as shadows are long and contrasts are high. There is also the possibility of dramatic silhouette. Sun Seekers for IOS and Sun Surveyor for Android are a good options.

3. Always be prepared

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Make sure you dress for the condition you are shooting in. Travel light as possible, and a purchase of a good quality rucksack or a rough terrain camera bag will stand you in good stead for your journey. Make sure to carry extra batteries and back up camera in case you are planning a long day trip, not to forget that you tell someone you’r out there and have a phone with you all times.

4. Visualise the shots

Photo by jasmin chew on Pexels.com

Take time to actually look around the landscape you are in, before taking any photos. Scan your surrounding and try and visualise where the best shots can be taken from. Sometimes it is a good idea to scout the location a day before you shoot, just walking through the landscape, taking note of the best positions, angles and viewpoint for future reference. Keep in mind the key requirement that the image needs to be converted to black and white. Form, composition, light and texture will define your shot when seen in black and white.

5. The Magic hour

Zigi Village, Cyprus at the time of sunset. Removing the color gives you the chance to absorb the details in the sky and rock.
Nikon D7200~35mm~f:2.8 ISO 100

In photography the golden hour is a common terminology. For gorgeous landscape shoot at sunrise and for an hour or so after that, or at sunset and a hour or so before it sets.The light has luminous quality and the shadows are long and shows off the counters of the land, which is ideal for black and white images. The sky is bright with various hues and if you catch a sunrise or subset with an interesting set of cloud formation, and more texture and details, the better the mono image. Watch your local weather forecast for a better shoot.

6. The Blue hour light

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

People also refer to the “Blue Hour”, which is the twilight period you experience at the end of the day when the sun is below the horizon, but its influence can be seen in the sky.This light is idle for cityscape where you can capture the city lights against a deep blue, inky sky. You need to be aware, though, the window of opportunity is relatively small before the sun sinks and renders the sky black.It usually last 45 minutes after sunset and before sunrise.

7. Stable with a Tripod

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

A tripod is a must for a landscape photography. You may be working in low light conditions and a handheld shots are not going to be sharp. You may also want long exposure time to render water soft and misty, or show clouds moving for added drama.An effect that works very well in black and white images. there are plenty of strong, lightweight tripod to choose from, and is a good investment.Couple a cable release with it and you are taking big step in reducing any unwanted camera shake and vibration.

8. Shoot RAW

Salt Lake~ Cyprus

Try and shoot RAW and get out of the habit of shooting jpeg.If you want the best from your shots, you need to switch to RAW format. As the name suggests, is the uncompressed, unprocessed image data straight from the camera sensor. The files are much bigger than jpeg, but give you much latitude when it comes to processing the final image. Details lost in the shadows in the original shot can be revealed through processing. You can also enhance the image contrast, tonal quality and exposure.

9. Use Filters

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Think about investing in filters. A circular polarised is a useful one. It can boost the contrast in a blue sky and white clouds which is useful when converting to mono. Just be aware that polarisers work best when the sun is behind you, or at least over your shoulder. If you are serious about landscape photography, probably the single best one you could purchase is a natural density graduated filter. If you are shooting a scene that has a lot of variation in the tonal values between the land and the bright sky, the ND grads will help stop the sky from burning up.

10. Long Distance Shot

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Landscape does not always have to be the widest lens. Some time a long focal length is great at picking up distance detail which a wide~angel lens cannot. Zoom lenses are also a great way to zoom in and out, allowing you to crop your shot and alter the composition without having to move long distance. Lenses in the 24mm~105mm range are a good intermediate wide~angle zooms which gives you lot of framing choice. It is not uncommon to use 70mm~200mm lens as well. Don’t forget to shoot in portrait orientation too~experiment.

11. Framing and composition

Zigi Village ~ Cyprus. The curve of the line along the boats and the sky make for an interesting composition.

Composition is a very subjective thing. What looks good to one eye may not be same for another.If nothing else, keep the “rule of third”as your main composition tool, along with leading lines to draw you into the shot.Imagine that your frame is split into lines of third, both vertical and horizontal.Placing an object of interest in one of the points where these lines intersect means you are creating interest and also balance to your shot.Not to say, that rules can’t be broken. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

12. Mirror Lock up

When you are set up and ready to shoot, consider the stability of the tripod.Even the sturdiest tripod can shake in the wind or soft soil. In addition, the movement of the camera’s mirror flipping up and down with each shot can also create vibration that can effect the shot’s sharpness.If you set your camera for mirror lock~up, it will flip the mirror out of the way long before the shutter opens up to take the shot, giving time for any vibration to cease. Couple this with cable realise or a remote trigger to fire the camera without you needing to touch it.

13. Don’t fear the Histogram

Image Courtesy Purple 11

Most cameras today have the option to display the histogram of the image you capture. A histogram is the graphic representation of the total value in the shot and how they are distributed. If the graph is bunched at the far left, then your shot is underexposed and you risk the loss of lot of details to shadow area. If it is sliding to the right hand side, then your image is over exposed and the details will be lost in highlight area. The more dynamic range you can capture in colour, the more scope you have when you do the conversion in black and white.

Final thoughts

Always review your shots after you take them. It can be very disheartening to take what you think is a wonderful shot, only to get home , process the shot and see that it is out of focus or badly framed. Use the camera LCD screen to zoom into the shot and check them for sharpness and detail, and confirm the composition is looking as you had imagined. Bear in mind that not all cameras show you 100% of the frame in the optical or electronic view~finder, so reviewing the image on the LCD screen or on~screen is very important.

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