Here is a quick review of some of the landscape photography tips and techniques you will need if you want to start winning photo contests. It isn’t that hard!
Light – with a portrait, we have total control. We can adjust the light levels, we can place our light where we want, we can put modifiers in front of it – like umbrellas, scrims, diffusion material, gobos and so on… We can do pretty much anything we want to get the image our mind has conjured up!
With landscape and cityscape photography, we are pretty much stuck with what nature provides us. There’s not much we can do.
Or is there? With some pre-planning, we can almost guarantee a stunning shot!
In an outdoor, landscape setting, there isn’t much we can do to modify or adjust the light, but we can become hyper aware of what light does at various times of day – and in various weather conditions.
First and foremost to be successful as a landscape or cityscape photographer – you have to have a desire to lose sleep.
What am I talking about? Glad you asked! If you want to start capturing those dramatic landscape photos with all the stunning colors, there’s really only two times of day to shoot – at dawn and at dusk.
But for a photographer, dawn and dusk are a bit more expanded than you may think. About twenty minutes before the sun first peeks over the horizon in the morning there is a “false” dawn. This time of day will give you those intense cobalt blue colors you see in contest winners, but haven’t been able to see in nature!
As the sun gets closer and closer to the horizon, the colors will start to get pinker. The colors you see at dawn are NOT the same as the colors you see at sunset. (They are more red and orange.)
So, drag yourself out of bed a couple hours before dawn so that you will have enough time to grab a cup of coffee (so you are awake enough to focus) and make your way to your predetermined spot, get set up and start shooting during the false dawn.
See what I mean about needing a desire to lose sleep? Here’s the good thing, most of your friends and camera club competition will be snoring away while you “get the shot!”
By the way, there is a false sunset about 20 minutes after the sun goes down. You aren’t spending that time watching TV are you?
In addition to the terrific colors, you also get great light angles!
Think of the last photo you saw of a body builder… Where was the light? I’d venture to guess that it was to the side. Actually about 90 degrees to the camera – model axis.
This glancing side light causes heavy shadowing around the muscles making them look more defined and actually larger. The light causes some specular highlights too – which makes the difference between highlight and shadow even more striking.
Now think of your landscape or your cityscape as a muscle bound model. The shadows caused by the glancing sunlight will help define and emphasize the shapes.
Next look for an interesting scene! Use foreground elements to draw the eye into the photo. Use the rule of thirds, leading lines, diagonals and other compositional techniques to draw the viewer’s eye to the “star” of your photo. (Be sure you have a well defined “star!”)
Finally, throw in a few clouds to reflect the sun’s colors and add some visual interest to the sky and you will be well on your way to winning photo contests!
Do all of this at dawn – then do a shot of the same scene at noon. Finally, do it again at sunset and compare all your results. I think you will quickly start to realize just how important all the photo tips, techniques and rules we’ve been discussing actually are!
Make a note of these landscape photography tips and techniques, and make it a goal to USE THEM this weekend! Check back tomorrow for more…