Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017Craggy Gardens - Blue Ridge Parkway, June 2017

My Approach to Landscape Photography: What questions to ask?

March 20, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Do you have a standard process you use with your landscape photography to help produce consistent results?  Is it even possible to have such a process when you face so many different situations and conditions?  To a point I think you can.  Experienced photographers likely have such a process they go through in their mind, which is so embedded that it's likely not even conscious to them.  But if you're just starting out it can be hard to remember all the different compositional possibilities, camera settings, etc.  

I've been doing landscape photography for several years now and there is always something new to learn and to apply to your process.  That's one of the things I love about photography.  There's always something new to learn.  For me, that certainly rings true.

So today's blog is intended to offer some suggestions on how to develop a process and not to overwhelm yourself.  You don't have to do everything right away but rather add those elements that are most meaningful to you.  Let's get started.

Previously, I wrote a blog post (see blog from 11/17/17)  on moving around the scene you wish to photograph with your camera checking out possible compositions.  So I think this remains #1 in terms of a process step but with some other considerations too.  How many times have you seen people arrive at a shooting location only to pull out their tripod, extend the legs fully, attach the camera and shoot away only to leave the location possibly missing better images?  I've seen it play out all too often.  I was certainly guilty of it when I first started.

When you arrive at your location, put your gear down, grab your camera and explore the area.  Now this does assume you do not have fleeting lighting conditions, people entering the scene, etc.  In those cases, grab what you can so you don't miss an opportunity.  But if conditions present themselves, take some time to see the possibilities.  Review my earlier blog post for more information.

The second step is reflecting on the image you want to create.  Ask yourself these types of questions:

  1. What are the possible compositions for your image?
  2. Should you shoot in landscape or portrait orientation?
  3. Is aperture or depth of field of primary importance?
  4. What lens focal length will best capture a scene?  Which lens is best to use?
  5. What shutter speed do I want?  Do you want to stop action or portray movement with a long exposure?  Will any filters, e.g., neutral density, circular polarizer, be needed remembering you'll lose exposure stops?
  6. What ISO is required to provide a clean image at the aperture and shutter speed you've picked?
  7. If the scene has a deep depth of field, will you need to use focus stacking?
  8. If there is a wide variety of lighting conditions?  Will you need to use HDR (high dynamic range)?
  9. If shooting a long exposure, e.g., moving water, is there anything around the water you do not want to appear blurry in the final image such as blowing leaves?
  10. Are there any distracting elements in the composition, e.g., downed trees, people?
  11. Where do you need to focus to get the image sharpness you desire?

 

These questions are not an exhaustive list but for someone getting started, it will help you to not forget many of the important things you need to consider before clicking your shutter button?

In future blog posts, I'll dive into more depth on each of these questions so stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 


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