Cannock Chase during the ‘golden hour’.

Whether we consider ourselves a seasoned professional photographer or not, most of us at some time are faced with a situation where we want to capture the beauty of our immediate environment. These tips will help you to capture the landscape (or cityscape) shots that you want. Additional tips on improving your photography in can be found here.

1) Times?

Victoria Square Clocktower. (Sunrise)

Photos look their best when they are captured in good light. When is the best time to find that light? These times are popular with many seasoned photographers:

Sunrise – When light gently enters the atmosphere and is not too harsh.

Sunset – This time is good due to both the gentle light and for capturing the sun along with some beautiful sunbeams. Here’s what I managed to capture while in Cannock Chase two weeks ago.

‘The Golden Hour’ – This is generally viewed as the hour either just after sunrise, or just before sunset. Many view this as the absolute perfect time for landscape photos.

Night (Cityscapes)

Many like myself love taking photos of the city lit up at night. There’s also the opportunity to get creative by capturing the movement of light. (Light trails).

Birmingham City Centre at night. Great for light trails.
Gloucester Docks. Very pretty when lit up at night.

2) Use a wide angle lens

On a full-frame camera, wide angle lenses are typically considered to start from 35mm and lower. Below 24mm is considered to be a ‘super wide’ angle lens. These lenses will help you to capture the breadth of your landscape or cityscape. Keep in mind that if your sensor is cropped (APSC or Micro four thirds) You will need to find the equivalent wide-angled lens for your lens mount.

Aperture?

The correct aperture for Landscapes can vary depending​ on many different factors. Apertures recommended by many generally vary between f8 and f11 (which is typically when a lens is at its sharpest). Practice by taking your camera out and shooting at different apertures. Examine the sharpness and level of detail until you are satisfied that your photo is at the sharpness you need. Make sure that everyrhing from the foreground to the background is in sharp focus.

Look for interesting angles

The urge for many when taking a photo is to focus the subject that they like directly in the centre of the frame. This may work sometimes, but doesn’t always make for an interesting picture. Use a guide like the ‘rule of thirds’ and photograph your subject off centre at various positions of the frame. (For more info on the rule of thirds click here) Don’t just take one shot and leave, try shots of the same area from lots of different angles. Look for things like lines that will draw a person’s eye into observing the whole picture rather than just one object. (these are called ‘leading lines) There should be a good balance between the main subject you want to highlight and the rest of the scene.

Use Layers

For this photo, The rocks have been used to make up the foreground, the water for the middle-ground while the hills and sky make up the background.
One way of achieving good composition is having something to fill your foreground, your middle-ground and your background​. Why? This will give you a nice balanced photograph that will be appealing to the viewer. Your foreground could be something as simple as a leaf, or some rocks. Middle ground could range from hills, trees, sand or water, and your background could involve sky, interesting clouds or the sun or moon. These are just some examples. Use your imagination and get creative!

 Use a graduated filter (Landscapes)

This is more of a personal preference. Some landscape photographers love these and others don’t. For me, graduated filters have helped to balance out scenes that have a mix between bright skies and dark ground areas. They have also helped me to pull out details in the sky, especially when there has been harsh light or very grey skies. On that note, Don’t always let a cloudy day put you off going on a photo shoot as you can still get some good shots if you put the effort in.

Use black and white

Whether you’re shooting landscapes or cityscapes. There will be times when you like the composition of a photo, but not the colours. What happens when changing saturation, contrast and ambience hasn’t worked? This is where black and white can come in handy. A monotone setting can balance out bad colours and make a dull picture come to life. 

Explore

Finally, don’t be afraid to go out and explore different areas. Cant go far? Try somewhere local. Parks, reservoirs, gardens and town centres can make for some great photos if you’re willing to explore them.

Those are my tips for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading! If you like these posts, don’t forget to comment and follow my Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates. Bye for now! 👍

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