Landscape Photography Tips
By Doug Cotton
All the photographs on this site were taken on a single eight day trip just as outlined in the previous eight pages. So you can do the same. Watch for opportunities when the light is good and perhaps struggle out of your motel bed to catch the occasional sunrise. But don't expect to come home with dozens of photos comparable with those you may have seen in the galleries! And don't try to copy their style too rigidly. Some photographers specialise in panoramas, for example, but I prefer to crop each photo to the proportions which suit the particular scene.
Click photos to see larger versions
Most books on landscape photography start by talking about the "Rule of Thirds" which says that horizons should be one third or two thirds of the way down. The rule also says subjects should be located one third in from each edge. Of course rules are made to be broken, and horizons are not always straight lines. Sometimes you have to imagine an average horizon line as in this photo. And, by the way, if you like rich blue skies and lakes, use a polarising filter and rotate it to get the desired effect.
Wherever possible, try to include some foreground to give depth to your image. Framing, as in this photo, can also be quite effective. However, it can be difficult to keep both the foreground and background in focus. This usually requires a small f stop (such as f/11) so you may have to use aperture mode on an automatic camera. You may also need to use manual focus and try several settings. Remember, too, that you will need a longer exposure possibly resulting in camera shake. Such shots may require a tripod, especially if you use shutter speeds around 1/10th of a second to create a blurred effect for a waterfall.
Uncluttered simplicity can create an interesting image.
Look for lines forming a Z shape or flowing S shaped curves such as in a river. Angled lines (even formed by animals) also add interest especially if they lead the eye to the subject.
While speaking of subjects, each of these photos has a subject which, hopefully, you'll agree adds to the overall effect. But resist the temptation to have family members in all your photos and, above all, don't have them smiling at the camera. Yes, I did capture my son in the one at the left, but primarily to add a sense of scale.
Rather than taking views from popular lookouts, as everyone else does, try a nearby vantage point with different foreground. This photo still shows the view but, if that were all it did, the overall effect would be rather ordinary, even though it may have seemed impressive to the native eye. Instead, I believe it captures the whole atmosphere of the track leading up to the lookout for Wine Glass Bay on Freycinet Peninsular. I admit to taking it rather hurriedly when the subject was in about the right position. Look for balance in your images too. Here the mass of the tree tends to balance that of the path which also happens to have a similar shape.
One advantage of digital photography is that you can afford to have several attempts at the same image. For example, I took this again when a swimmer appeared as a subject, albeit rather small. In fact it was one of quite a few I took at Honeymoon Bay on the Freycinet Peninsular. Note how the diagonal line of the shore is balanced by the lines in the clouds. Sometimes you only notice these things when you go through your images back at home. So take plenty and you never know what you might discover.
There is no doubt that Tasmania offers perhaps the greatest variety of landscape opportunities anywhere in Australia - waterfalls, rivers, mountains, lakes - it has it all. Local photographers abound and they do have the advantage of being able to wait for that beautiful sunset or late afternoon lighting that just makes the perfect picture.
Click photos to see larger images.
Click photos to see larger images.
Finally, when you do happen to see a truly glorious sunset make sure you capture it well. It's great if you know of a nearby viewpoint with water in the foreground to provide reflections. A tripod may be necessary as you should use low ISO and about f/11 for good depth of field. Set the focus manually on infinity. You will probably need to use exposure compensation to underexpose a little because the camera may overexpose if there is a dark foreground such as in the photo at the left. Take several frames and be patient until well after the sun actually sets.
For wedding, glamour and portrait photography in the Sydney area visit my wife's site YoCotton.com
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