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Our major sectiononshootinginRaw
helpsyouget thebest fromyour images
Followour simplestep-by-stepguidesand
captureyour best ever landscapescenes
Theverybest bags, tripods, lensesand
accessoriesfor landscapephotography
Fundamental photographyskillsexplained
includingexposure, composition&lighting
shootingsuccessful landscapeimages
All our experts are regular contributors to Digital SLR Photography magazine. For expert advice
and inspiration to help you improve your photo skills, pick up the latest issue, available on the
second Tuesday of every month. For further information, visit:
Former teacher Markisnow
oneof theUKsleadinglandscape
Capturing beautiful landscapes is a passion shared by millions around
the world. Its easy to understand why, as there are few feelings to beat
that of returning home from a long days photography with memory
cards lled with stunning scenes. It is a form of photography that
presents you with many challenges. Youll need be prepared for long
hours, with early starts required to reach a location before sunrise
and picture-taking often continuing until after sunset. And youll have
to brave all sorts of weather conditions in your quest to capture a glorious scene.
But when you get it right, all the trials and tribulations youve endured are quickly
forgotten when you discover youve captured stunning images. This edition of
The Essential Guide to Landscape Photography has more technique, expert guides
and stunning photography than ever before and aims to deliver all the information,
advice and inspiration you need to improve your photo skills. Its packed with
tutorials from many of the UKs most successful and popular outdoor photographers,
with emphasis on the key in-camera techniques, as well as essential post-processing
skills. We hope it helps you take your best ever landscape images. All the best!
Aprofor twodecades, LeeFrosts
oneof thebest-knownnamesin
landscapephotographer. Sheis
oneof theUKsbrightest talents.
photographer withmanyyears
of experiencecapturingthe
diversebeautyof theBritains
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TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotographyISBN1-907779-24-8
Printedby BenhamGoodheadPrint (BGP)
Welcome 3 3rdEdition The Essential Guide toLandscape Photography
Be preparedto learn andexploit the
fundamentals of landscape photography
We reveal the key techniques youll needto
master to take perfectly-exposedlandscapes
Master these simple techniques andyour
handling of light levels will be right every time
Predict andexploit the best lighting
The best techniques for super-sharpscenes
Maximise image quality by shooting in Raw
Use lters to improve andenhance your shots
Why water works so well in landscapes
Learn the relationshipof colour in scenes
Brilliant ideas to keepyou busy all year round
Fantastic techniques leading to stunning scenics
The best equipment for outdoor photography
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Introduction 7 3rdEdition The Essential Guide toLandscape Photography
CAPTURE STUNNING LANDSCAPES we all want to be able to do it. Fantastic landscapes inspire more
photographers than any other type of image and on the face of it, well, it should be easy to do. Find an awesome
vista and point your digital SLR at it, press the shutter and that should do the trick. This simple approach will probably
bag you a decent snap, but often the image you capture will not do justice to the glorious scene in front of you.
Weve all been a little bit disappointed by a photo that doesnt quite live up to our great expectations. The difference
between a decent snap and a stunning image is often down to a few versatile ideas, some easily-learned expert
knowledge, the right equipment choice and careful planning. This inspirational guide will provide you with an excellent
grasp of these fundamentals and help you transform your shots from the ordinary into something very special indeed.
1) Therule-of-thirds
This is a simple way of organising the elements in the
frame so that they make a balanced composition. As a
compositional tool, its been around for a few centuries
and is a simplied version of the golden section which
is used in art and architecture.
Imagine two vertical lines dividing the viewnder into
thirds. Now do the same with two horizontal lines. You
then organise the main elements of the picture within
this grid. For example, with a simple landscape, place the
horizon on one of the lines, so that you have two-thirds
land and one third sky, or vice-versa.
If you have a strong focal point, such as a tree or
building, you can place it on one of the points where the
horizontal and vertical lines intersect. This will make a
much more dynamic composition than if you were to
place the focal point centrally, which can make a picture
look rather static. Inexperienced photographers often put
the subject right in the middle and it rarely works.
Moving an element of a scene to a different
intersection can create a startlingly different image,
such is the power of the rule-of-thirds. Dont be afraid to
experiment with different variations on a theme.
RULE-OF-THIRDSGRID: This image follows the rule-of-
thirds quite closely. There is approximately two-thirds land/
sea andone-thirdsky. The lighthouse andobelisk are
dividedby the left vertical, each equi-distant fromit.
MORE THAN ANY OTHER factor, composition can turn
an OK image into a masterpiece. There are a small
number of techniques that, once learned, will serve you
well in many different situations.
Composing the elements in the frame is the real art
of taking great pictures. Carefully consider how points of
interest are arranged and how they relate to each other.
Placing a subject centrally in the frame usually results
in a static rather than dynamic composition. Placing
the subject off-centre, encourages the eye to move
around the frame more. One way of dividing the frame
up to achieve harmony is to use the rule-of-thirds (see
below). This proportion often occurs in nature, and there
is research to suggest that our brains are hard-wired to
nd these arrangements more attractive.
2) Foregroundinterest
You see, the problem is, the world is three-dimensional and a photograph
is two-dimensional. One of the main reasons that landscape images fail is
that they dont convey the sense of depth that our eyes see. Fortunately,
there are a few compositional tricks that we can employ to get round this
rather frustrating little problem.
A very effective way to create depth in a photograph is to include
a strong foreground, often in conjunction with a wide-angle lens.
Emphasising the foreground in this way will add depth to the picture by
creating an entry-point for the eye, pulling the viewer into the scene and
giving the picture a sense of distance and scale.
Wide-angle lenses help this technique because they stretch perspective,
exaggerating the elements close to the lens and opening up the view
beyond the foreground.
But be careful, this can result in the middle distance looking empty
and lacking in interest so the trick is to shoot from a lower viewpoint.
This compresses the middle distance, so that there isnt too much empty
space in the composition. Youll also need to use a small aperture and
focus carefully to maximise depth-of-feld, keeping foreground and distant
objects in focus (well explain how to do this later).
3) Lead-inlines
Lines represent depth in a picture and can be used to lead your eye into
the picture and guide it around the scene.
Lines are everywhere: man-made, such as roads, paths and hedgerows,
or natural, such as rivers or the coastline all will add dynamism to your
photographs. Lines dont have to be real, they can be implied like the
patterns created by waves over a longish exposure, or objects pointing into
the frame. Lots of things can bring linear energy into your work.
Straight, converging lines are very dynamic and can give a lot of
impact to a picture, but there is always the danger that the eye follows
the lines into and then very quickly out of the frame again. Pictures with
only converging lines might have immediate impact, but can still be
unsatisfying. Its a good idea to try and place some object of interest within
the frame a fgure or a tree, for example to give the eye something to
settle on within the scene.
Lines that curve gently in an S shape lack the immediate impact of
straight, converging lines, but can result in a more satisfying image.
They can lead the eye gently through the whole picture, allowing the
viewer to take in other elements within the composition.
4) Layersandplanes
Another in-camera technique that can be used to add depth to an image
is to create a layered effect. Layers in an image can be created by having
a series of overlapping shapes (see right) or by strong side-lighting,
creating alternative bands of light and shade that can give the effect of a
layering of light.
This kind of technique works particularly well with longer lenses that
have the effect of compressing perspective and stacking overlapping
forms. Each layer, or plane, appears thinner and closer to the next,
exaggerating the effect. Just remember longer lenses will produce less
depth-of-feld so youll need to use smaller apertures, such as f/16, if
elements are in the foreground or near middle distance.
This shot was taken at dawn near Lyme Regis using a 70-200mm zoom
at around 100mm. The longer focal length compresses the distances
between the layers and the strong, directional light helps emphasise the
layers the early morning mists add bags of atmosphere.
GettinGitriGht: the cowparsley andgorse both make an attractive foreground
to leadthe eye into the scene andprovide suitable frames for the viewbeyond. A
wide-angle lens anda small aperture of f/22provides plenty of depth-of-feld.
BiGforeGroundorsmAll detAil: its not always necessary to have a big
foreground; colour, texture andpatterns can all provide attractive foregroundinterest.
the delicate carpet of fowers is as effective as the strong shapes of rocks, opposite.
10 Composition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
Composition is all about what you choose
to include in the frame and also what
you choose to leave out. Often, less is
more and compositions that are
uncluttered can be the most successful
5) Breaktherules!
Like all rules, the rule-of-thirds needs to be applied
with judgement rather than as a matter of course and
there will always be situations where it can be ignored.
For example, when shooting a scene where the sky is
refected in water, you might want to place the horizon
across the middle of the frame, giving the two elements
of the shot sky and refection equal weighting.
If there is no interest in the sky, place the horizon
higher in the frame or crop it out altogether. To increase
a sense of emptiness and isolation, the horizon can be
placed very low in the frame. The beauty of shooting
digitally is the ease at which you can review your efforts
and experiment to ensure the perfect composition.
12 Composition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
6) Findnaturalframes
A popular compositional trick is to use something to
frame the view beyond, such as an archway, doorway,
window or the overhanging branches of trees.
Try using frost-covered plants and gateposts to create
a natural frame for the main subject of your shot. Use
the frame to lead the viewers eye into the shot for
some truly eye-catching results.
Control the amount of sharp focus carefully. Very out-
of-focus framing leaves help keep attention on the main
subject, slightly soft leaves might look like a mistake.
Use this idea with care as it can often be detrimental
to the scene and can suggest to the viewer that the view
beyond the natural frame is even more spectacular.
7) Experimentwithviewpoints
Finding the right viewpoint is key to successful landscape
composition. Rather than shooting everything from head
height, experiment with high and low viewpoints.
Higher viewpoints have the effect of opening up the
planes in the image and is useful with standard and
telephoto lenses. When photographing well-known
landmarks, its tempting to use the established viewpoints,
but spend time looking for a fresh view, as its much more
satisfying to capture something original.
While theres nothing wrong with the frst picture, its
the standard view of Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. Without
having to move very far, however, a less photographed and
more dramatic viewpoint has been found.
Composition 13 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
withAdAmburtonBecause Im hooked on
wide-angle photography, big foregrounds are a
constant feature in my landscape images. When
selected carefully and photographed well, a good
foreground will bring a landscape shot to life and
maximise its impact. Photographs with detailed foregrounds can
give the viewer a sense of being there, instantly drawing their
attention and gaze into the image. I should point out that I dont
go out primarily searching for foregrounds. The most important
thing is always the main subject in your image, but for me, the
foreground comes in a close second. So whenever I head out to
take landscapes, I look for a location that has a lot of potential
shooting opportunities. On arrival, Ill scout around the area,
looking for the most appealing subject and the best angle to
shoot it from. Once I have chosen the area in which I want to
shoot, I begin to search around for foreground interest.
There are no rules as to what qualifes as good foreground
interest but, as always, there are a few points to consider.
Only you can be the judge of what you want to focus on and,
obviously, this is also determined by which objects are close
at hand. But it is important to pay careful attention to which
objects you include, rather than just shooting the frst thing
you stumble across. As I favour landscapes, I almost always
look for natural elements to make a foreground rocks, fowers
and water being the usual suspects. These, I know, will ft into
the bigger picture that I am composing, whereas a man-made
object could look unbalanced.
Once youve decided what to include as foreground, consider
how to compose your shot to give the strongest possible result.
Ideally, the foreground leads the eye into the main subject, but
if composed wrongly, can become a distraction. One mistake
many photographers make is to always shoot at eye-level; if
you are including low-level rocks and shooting from a standing
position, your resulting image will lack impact. Try moving lower
and closer to your desired foreground, and your image will
spring to life! Having said that, be careful not to move too low
and close or you risk unbalancing your image by making the
foreground more dominant than your background. For this same
reason, try and keep your subject matter clean and simple a
fantastic background will be lost behind a cluttered or messy
foreground! Finally, its important to use a small aperture and
focus a third of the way into the scene to provide a good depth-
of-feld. By following these simple measures, you can greatly
improve the composition of your landscape images.
noForEGroundintErEStwithout a foreground,
the image lacks impact and can look dull and
uninteresting. while water can make an attractive
subject, its muddy colour in this shot lacks appeal.
withForEGroundby including a foreground, the
image immediately looks more balanced and
eye-catching. however, dont just settle on the frst
thing you fnd. this plant is quite unattractive.
LowViEwPointComposing froma lowviewpoint
helps to pick out details in this mossy rock. it is
simple, uncluttered and provides a satisfactory
foreground; but it still lacks something special...
toP: while your natural instinct may be to
extend your tripod and shoot froma standing
position, its worth trying lowviewpoints too.
AboVE&riGht: using a tripod really helps
with landscape photography. i adjusted the
height until i was happy with the composition
and used a polariser to improve the colours. by
reviewing my shots on the LCdmonitor, i was
able to check the exposure and depth-of-feld
to ensure i got the best possible result.
14 Composition:Foregroundinterest TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Adding a fewleaves to the
rock adds interest and impact;
and by slightly adjusting my
viewpoint, the foreground
interest is moved into an
off-centre position, which
strengthens the composition.
Spendsome time
searching for the best
foregroundinterest inyour
chosenarea. Dont just
shoot the rst thing that
youstumble across
Try to keepthe foreground
simple andclutter-free
3)GETDOWN! Get low
downandclose to the
foregroundto addimpact
Set a small aperture and
focus a thirdof the way in
results ontheLCD, revise

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1) Getthebalanceright
This image presents the landscape photographer with the greatest
challenge extreme light levels with a need to capture detail in the
bright sky and the shadows. And dont be fooled by that wet sand in the
foreground. Its reecting a lot of light from the sky.
Of course, it will be possible to manipulate the image on your
computer, but rst you must make sure the exposure settings are going
to capture the maximum amount of information across the whole image.
Overexpose and you will lose cloud detail and the blue sky; underexpose
and the shadows on the pier will ll-in and become solid. If your digital
SLR doesnt capture the information, you will have nothing to work with
on the computer. There will be an optimum exposure setting but it could
be a compromise, so if in doubt, use your cameras bracketing function
to take several images, some underexposed and some overexposed.
systems, with a histogram function to help us check accurate exposure,
so getting it right has never been easier. However, for more creative
control, you need to take things into your own hands.
The basic problem is that as we gaze at a beautiful landscape our
eyes adjust constantly to register detail in the highlights and the
shadows. Our pupils open and close according to the level of light
and our optic nerve has impressive range and latitude. Our cameras,
despite their impressive technical specications, make exposures
within fairly limited parameters the aperture and shutter speed
combination will be chosen for the level of light in the scene. A
perfectly-exposed sky results in gloomy shadows; detail in the shadows
results in a burned-out sky. We need to help our camera to expose the
right part of the scene, or nd the right balance. The following expert
techniques will help you capture perfect exposures by knowing what
types of scenes causes problems and what action youll need to take.
Introduction 17 3rdEdition The Essential Guide toLandscape Photography
2) Gettingtherightexposure
Mark Bauer was looking for a different view
of Corfe Castle in Dorset, so he sauntered
along to the graveyard in the village. Having
found a composition based around one of the
crosses, the next problem was sorting out the
exposure. Mark explains, step-by-step, how he
tackled the challenge:
1) This is what the cameras multi-zone
meter came up with, without the aid of any
ltration. The scene is very contrasty, and
the camera has struggled to capture all the
tonal information.
2) Spot meter readings from the base of
the cross and the sky revealed a difference
in brightness of about 4 stops. Setting an
exposure for the land, I tted a 0.9ND grad
lter (three stops) and pulled it down below
the level of the horizon, to the edge of the
darkest shadow area at the bottom of the
frame. I used a soft grad, so that it wouldnt
cut into the cross. But there is loss of detail
in the brighter parts of the sky so I reduced
exposure by two-thirds of a stop and reshot.
3) The result is exposed to the right (see
over the page) as far as possible without
clipping the highlights the histogram shows
there are still dark tones, but also plenty of
information in the top section, and crucially,
no clipped shadows.
4) A straight conversion of the Raw le
looks dull, the picture lacks contrast. For the
nal version, Ive brought the exposure down
slightly and added more contrast, especially
in the shadows, to recreate the drama of
the original scene. Ive also tweaked the
white balance to add warmth and increased
saturation too.
5) For comparison purposes, I also took a
shot underexposed by one stop. This leaves
the shadows muddy and lacking in detail,
which is very apparent in the crop.
1 2
3 4
18 Exposure TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
These two examples on
the right showwhy its
not a goodidea to
underexpose andthentry
to pull upthe shadows in
the processing. The
nearest image is around
one stopunderexposed
(to maintainhighlight
detail) andthe shadow
curve has beenpulledup
to matchthe exposure in
the correctly exposed
versiononthe right. As
youcansee, not only is
there posterisation in
the shadows, rather
transitions, andtons of
noise, but also the
sensor has recorded
signicantly less detail.
Underexposed Correctexposure
Metering systems in digital SLRs are calibrated
to an 18%grey mid-tone. Basing exposure
readings on a mid-tone, such as grass, provides
a good starting point for accurate exposures
Mid-tonemetering g
One of the great things about taking photos
by the sea is the opportunities it gives for
capturing the movement of waves and
adding atmosphere. Inlowlight, withthe
lens stoppeddownto extenddepth-of-eld,
long exposures are a necessity. They may
range fromseveral seconds to minutes,
depending onlighting conditions. As waves
washaroundrocks or upanddownthe
shore while the shutter is open, they will
recordas a romantic, mysterious mist. To
capture the drama of waves breaking onthe
shore, speeds of sec or slower works well.
3) Exposureforcoastallandscapes
Achieving the correct exposure in coastal shots can be a bit trickier
than for inland landscapes, as there are several things that can fool the
cameras meter: bright highlights on water or bright white foamy waves
can lead to underexposure. On the other hand, if you have chosen a large,
dark rock for your foreground, this could cause the camera to overexpose.
So you need to keep an eye out for any large areas of particularly bright
or dark tones and apply exposure compensation accordingly. It is good
practice to check the histogram after each shot and be prepared to
re-shoot if necessary.
There can also be a huge range of contrast within any one scene, with
bright skies, dark rocks, and bright highlights on water. Neutral Density
(ND) graduate lters are essential, and depending on the conditions and
the brightness of the sky and sea relative to your foreground, you may
need to pull the grad down very low in the frame. This could even be
below the horizon, to the top of your foreground. If you dont, you might
end up with a correctly-exposed sky and foreground with a band of
over-bright water in the middle of the picture. So when metering the scene
to choose the strength and placement of the lter, remember to take
readings from the foreground, sky and sea.
Exposure 19 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
THE BASICS In basic terms, a histogram is a two-dimensional graph, often resembling a range of
mountain peaks, that represents an images tonal extent. Whilst, at frst glance, histograms might
appear quite complex and confusing, they are actually very simple to read. They are an essential
aid for digital SLR photographers striving to achieve consistently correct exposures in-camera and
are a more accurate method of assessing exposure than looking at images youve taken on the LCD
monitor. Therefore, if you are not already in the habit of regularly reviewing your images histogram,
it is time you did so. With the help of this guide, you will soon feel confdent assessing histograms.
WHAT IS AHISTogrAm? A histogram is a visual representation of an images tonal range. The
horizontal axis indicates the pictures extent from pure black (0, far left) to pure white (225, far right).
The vertical axis shows how many pixels have that particular value. Looking at an images histogram,
you can tell whether the picture is made up of predominantly light, dark or mid-tones.
Although its appearance is also dictated by the colour and tone of the subject, a histogram
with a large number of pixels (or a sharp peak) grouped at either edge is an indication of poor
exposure. For example, a histogram with a large number of black pixels (grouped to the left) often
signifes underexposure subject detail will be obscured in the shadow areas. A large number of
pixels grouped to the right of the histogram normally indicates an image which is overexposed. The
images highlights will burn out (or clip) and this detail is irretrievable. A graph with a narrow peak
in the middle and no (or few) black or white pixels indicates an image lacking contrast.
4) Histograms:Anaidtocheckingexposure
SoWHAT SHouldAHISTogrAmlooklIkE? This is a tricky one to answer. Despite what some
people may say, there is no such thing as the perfect histogram. It simply tells us how a picture
is exposed, allowing photographers to decide whether and how to adjust exposure settings.
Therefore, a histogram of a light scene will be very different to one with predominantly black tones
or one with a mix of both. However, generally speaking, a histogram should show a good spread of
tones across the horizontal axis, with the majority of pixels positioned near to the middle, (100, mid-
point). Normally, it is desirable to avoid peaks to the right-hand side of the graph, as this is usually
an indication of burnt out (overexposed) highlights, resulting in lost detail.
When assessing a histogram, it is important to consider the brightness of the subject itself. For
example, a scene or subject boasting a large percentage of light or dark tones like snow or a
silhouette will naturally have an affect on the overall look of the resulting graph. Therefore, whilst it
is possible to make recommendations, it is impossible to generalise about what is and isnt a good
histogram. Whist an even spread of pixels throughout the greyscale is often considered desirable,
you will also need to use your own knowledge gained through experience.
HoWdoI CHECkApICTurES HISTogrAm? Most digital SLRs allow you to view the histogram
on the LCD monitor during playback. To do this, press the playback button to view the image and
then cycle through the additional photo info screens until the histogram is displayed. Its worth
making this your default setting, so that you can quickly access the histogram and assess exposure
immediately after taking the picture when required.
If the histogram indicates underexposure, apply positive exposure compensation. If pixels are
grouped to the right hand side and the image appears overexposed, dial in negative compensation.
Using the histogram is a far more reliable method of assessing exposure than looking at images
on the LCD screen, particularly when trying to view images outdoors in bright light when the light
refecting from the LCD can prove deceptive.
pEAkSToTHElEFTThe histogramis skewed to the
left, as the dark backdrop means many of the pixels
are in shadowareas, but the image is well exposed.
pErFECTEXpoSurEAtypical landscape scene gives
a so-called perfect histogram as it has a good spread
of tones and peaks through the mid-tones.
pEAkSToTHErIgHTAwell-exposed shot of an
overly-light scene gives a histogramskewed to the
right, much like that of an overexposed image.
20 Exposure TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The majority of DSLRs are designed with a playback
function known as the highlights screen. Whilst
histograms provide a graphic illustration of an
images tonal extent, helping you assess exposure
overall, the highlights screen or highlights alert
is aimed specifcally at helping photographers to
avoid highlights burning out. White or very light
subjects in direct sunlight are especially prone to
this. Ahistogramwith a sharp peak to the far right
will normally indicate that an image is suffering
fromareas of overexposure. However, the highlights
alert actually identifes the pixels that exceed the
value for pure white (255). Pixels that do so are not
given a value, meaning they cannot be processed
and are effectively discarded having no detail or
information recorded. When the image is replayed
on the cameras LCDmonitor, the pixels falling
outside the cameras dynamic range fash or blink
providing a quick and graphic illustration of where
picture detail is burned out and devoid of detail. To
rectify this, set negative exposure compensation so
that the next image is recorded darker.
Adigital cameras highlights alert is not always
switchedonby default. Therefore, consult your users
manual andswitchit onwhenyoufeel this typeof
exposurewarningwouldproveuseful. Normally this
is doneviathecameras Playback Menu.
5) Exposetotheright
Exposing to the right is fast becoming a widely-accepted approach to
help maximise image quality although it only applies if you shoot in
Raw. With this technique you effectively push exposure settings as close
to overexposure as possible without actually clipping the highlights. The
result is a histogram with the majority of pixels grouped to the right of mid
point hence the name expose to the right. So, when youre condent
you understand exposures well enough, give this technique a try and
try pushing the exposure as far to the right of the histogram as you can,
without clipping the highlights. The image will probably look a little light
once in the Raw converter, but this is easily corrected with the brightness
and contrast controls and will give much better results than trying to
lighten a darker image.
CCD and CMOS sensors count light in a linear fashion. Most digital
SLRs record a 12-bit image capable of recording 4,096 tonal values over
six stops. But the tonal values are not spread evenly across the six stops,
each stop records half the light of the previous one. So, half of the levels
are devoted to the brightest stop (2,048), half of the remainder (1,024
levels) are devoted to the next stop and so on. As a result, the last and
darkest of the six stops, only boasts 64 levels. This might seem confusing
but, simply, if you do not properly use the right side of the histogram,
which represents the majority of tonal values, you are wasting up to half
the available encoding levels. So if you deliberately underexpose to ensure
detail is retained in the highlights a common practise among many
digital photographers you are potentially losing a large percentage of
the data that can be captured.
MAINIMAGE&INSET: Exposure to the right of the histogramwill
capture maximumdetail andminimumnoise. Once in the Raw
converter the image will look too light andwashedout so use the
brightness andcontrast controls to adjust the images appearance.
Exposure 21 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Some DSLRs allow
you the option to
separate histograms for the red,
green and blue channels. Youre better
off ignoring this option and using the
standard greyscale histogram
Aperture-priority gets its nAme because it
allows you to decide which aperture (f/number) you
want to use to take a photograph, while the camera
automatically sets a shutter speed, based on light
levels, to achieve the correct exposure. in other words,
it lets you prioritise the aperture selection, and it
chooses the shutter speed accordingly.
As the lens aperture is the most infuential factor over
the depth-of-feld (the zone of sharp focus) in a
photograph, aperture-priority mode is the most practical
choice of shooting mode if you are photographing a
subject or situation in which control over depth-of-feld is
Landscape photography is the best example. generally,
when shooting landscapes, youll want to make sure your
depth-of-feld is broad enough to record the whole scene
in sharp focus, from the immediate foreground to infnity,
which means that youll need to set a small aperture, such
as f/11. Aperture-priority mode lets you do that easily,
because you have to actively set the required aperture.
When shooting portraits, the opposite tends to apply
you want shallow depth-of-feld, so that your subject is
recorded in sharp focus but the background is thrown out
of focus. that means making sure you take the picture at
a wide aperture such as f/4 or f/2.8, which again is easy
when shooting in aperture-priority mode because its you
and not the camera who decides which aperture to use.
that said, you can still control which aperture is set
using other exposure modes, but it just requires a slightly
different (and longer) way of working. in shutter-priority (s
or tv) mode, for example, all you need to do is change the
shutter speed until the camera sets the aperture you want.
similarly, in program mode, you can use the program shift
function to change the aperture and shutter combination
that the camera has set until you get the right aperture.
Where aperture-priority triumphs over these alternative
modes is that once youve set a particularly aperture,
the camera wont change it, even if light levels change.
instead, the shutter speed adjusts to maintain the correct
exposure. this wouldnt be the case if you set the camera
to shutter-priority mode if light levels change, your DsLr
automatically adjusts the aperture to maintain correct
exposure, giving the shutter speed priority, so your control
over the depth-of-feld is diminished. similarly, in program
mode, the camera would change the aperture/shutter
speed combination in response to changing light.
Aperture-priority is also a handy mode to set for general
use, when youre just wandering around,
shooting anything that takes your fancy, whether its
architecture, details, abstracts or candids. Depth-of-feld
requirements will vary depending on the shot one
minute you need lots of it, the next, as little as possible
but this can be quickly altered with the fick of the
cameras input dial, and the viewfnder display will
keep you fully informed of exactly which aperture (and
corresponding shutter speed) youre using.
TheeffecTof aperTuresWith depth-of-feld having such an effect on the fnal image,
its no surprise that many experienced photographers rate aperture-priority as their favourite
mode. These two shots showhowdifferent apertures can produce very different results.
sowhat isit that makestheaperture-priority
modemoreuseful thananyof theother
readon, andall will berevealed
f/4 f/22
Olympus Pentax Samsung
Canon Nikon Sony
Choosing aperture-priority mode is simple all you need to do is turn your exposure dial
(or in some cases push the exposure mode button) and select A or Av. Your DSLR will
then be set to aperture-priority mode and all you need to do is rotate the small adjustment
dial (found either on the handgrip or on the top-right corner of the rear of your camera)
to change your aperture. If you lightly depress the shutter button to activate the exposure
system, you can keep a check on the shutter speed the camera has selected.
22 Exposure theessential guidetoLandscapephotography 3rdedition
Weve already established
that inaperture-priority
mode, youset the desired
aperture andthe camera
sets the accompanying
shutter speedtogive the
correct exposure. Heres a
quick rundownof howthe
other modes work.
The camera sets the
shutter speed and
aperture to achieve
correct exposure
and you cant
change the
combination to use
a specifc aperture
or shutter speed.
programworks in a
similar way to full
auto, but you can
usually alter the
speed combination
if you need to use a
specifc aperture or
shutter speed.
You set a shutter
speed and your
DsLrsets the
aperture. If light
levels change, the
same shutter speed
is used and the
aperture changed.
You manually set
both the aperture
and shutter speed
independently of
each other, so
neither changes
unless you adjust
them, even if light
levels fall or rise.
These program
modes are tailored
to suit a specifc
subject, with
various camera
functions like the
af, fash and
exposure systems
set accordingly.
Aperture-priority allows
landscape photographers to
control howmuch of the
scene is sharply in focus.
Exposure 23 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Most cameras allow
you to change the
apertures in 1/2-stop increments. Check
the custom
function menu on your DSLR
many models allow
you to also set it to
1/3-stop increments if you so wish
withross armstrongLandscape photographers
understandably give priority to apertures, but in some
situations, shutter speed is just as important, as it can be used
to capture the effect of movement within a scene. Because you
want to maintain sharpness in landscape images by maximising
depth-of-feld, you can really make shutter speeds work for you as the
smaller apertures youll require also mean slower shutter speeds. This
is easily done by setting your camera to shutter-priority (Tv or S) on the
mode dial. This ensures you get the right exposure as you set the shutter
speed for the desired length of time, while your DSLR adjusts the aperture
accordingly. So why choose the shutter speed rather than the aperture?
Well, setting the slower speed means anything moving when you fre the
shutter, such as fowing water or foliage blowing in the wind, is captured as
a soft blur, while anything static, like a fence or rock, remains sharp and in
focus. The effect of setting a long exposure is to give images extra depth
and dimension whilst illustrating a real sense of movement. The result
is usually closer to how you remember the scene, rather than a lifeless
image of grass with every blade in focus.
But remember, even digital SLRs can be fooled. Be careful not to
overexpose an image when shooting, for example, a feld of golden
sweeping grass in the evening sun. As you lower the shutter speed,
the cameras chosen aperture will eventually fash, indicating that the
image will be overexposed. You can, of course, check the image and the
histogram on the LCD monitor for blown-out highlights.
For even slower shutter speeds and the chance to lift your landscape
photography to another level, use flters. A polariser will cut out refections
and darken blue skies to give clouds that wow factor, as well as reduce
the amount of light reaching your sensor by two stops at the same time.
You can further enhance movement and blur by using a Neutral Density
flter, which is a neutral grey flter that doesnt affect colour balance but
has the effect of reducing the amount of light passing through it, allowing
you to select slower shutter speeds as a result.
For optimum results shoot at dawn and dusk and always use a tripod.
Shoot on darker, cloudy days, and let nature work for you less light
means youll get slower shutter speeds. On windy days, hang your camera
bag from the tripod to keep your outft stable. A helpful hint is to use a
remote release/self-timer and mirror lock-up to avoid contact with the
camera during the exposure to gain the maximum effect. Wait for the
wind, open the shutter and whatever happens, dont get blown away!
above, PolariseranDnDgraD:
i used a polariser combined with an nD
grad flter to hold back the bright sky and
ensure a well balanced, long exposure.
shooting in raw, i used the self-timer and
an exposure of 1.6seconds.
shuttersPeeDcomParison: For this
series, the lens (10-22mmset to 13mm)
was focused on the long marramgrass in
the foreground. the only thing i changed
was the shutter speeds in a sequence
from1/50sec to 1.6sec. note howthe
movement of the grass in the breeze
becomes increasingly blurry as the
shutter speed is slowed. my favourite
image fromthe sequence is the longest
exposure, which captures the movement
in the marramgrass exactly like i
remember it, in the low, winter sunshine.
1/50sec 1/20sec 1/10sec
24 Exposure TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
1/5sec 0.3sec 0.8sec 1.6sec
Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland.
The movement in the foreground really
adds to the impact of the image. I used
the histogramand the image on the
reviewscreen to check the exposure
and any blown-out highlights.
Exposure 25 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
LANDSCAPE LIGHTING IS always changing. Sometimes
it changes slowly, as with the seasons. Throughout the
day it changes more quickly, but at dawn and dusk its
changing quite fast. Weather can transform the light
on a scene in a matter of seconds and by choosing
between shooting into or with the light you can instantly
make a massive difference. Over the next few pages
we help you to predict the light, handle and control it
effectively and understand how to make photographys
most critical element work for you, not against you.
1) Lightdirection
The direction of light has a dramatic inuence on how the landscape
will appear behind the lens. Front lighting, with shadows falling
behind the subject away from the camera, can make a scene look
at and uninteresting although with the sun low over the horizon,
it can provide good colour saturation. With low front lighting and
wide-angle lenses, an added problem is that you have to be careful
to avoid getting your own shadow in the picture.
Side-lighting is a favourite with many landscape photographers,
because it reveals texture and shadows falling across the scene that
highlight shape and form, therefore adding more depth to a scene.
Backlighting can be very dramatic, with shadows racing towards
the camera and the emphasis is very much on shape and form, with
objects being recorded as silhouettes. Depending on the conditions,
these objects might be placed in front of a boldly coloured background.
Trees, backlit by the rising or setting sun, can look very effective.
2) Weatherandlight
In theory, theres no such thing as good
or bad weather in landscape photography
good images can be produced in any
conditions. Of course, certain conditions
will produce more dramatic shots and
the trick is learning how to recognise and
anticipate them.
If youre planning a sunset or sunrise
shoot, dont cancel it if theres cloud cover.
If theres a break on the horizon, theres a
possibility that the clouds will be lit from
below when the sun is very low, giving a
very dramatic sky.
Sunshine and showers can be stunning
in the moments when the rain stops and
the sun breaks through, with foreground
objects spot-lit against a dark, brooding
sky. These moments are feeting, however,
and dont last for long, so you need to have
your camera prepared beforehand.
If the weather is bad grey, overcast
and raining there are still shots to
be made. In these conditions head for
woodland: the diffused, less contrasty
lighting suits this type of location.
Surprisingly, using a polariser can really
enhance a picture, by cutting out the
refections and glare from wet foliage as
well as saturating the colours.
3) Capturetherightmood
Shoot in lighting conditions that will
enhance the natural mood of your subject.
For example, some scenes are naturally
more tranquil and will look best in the
corresponding soft light of dawn and with
pastel colours. Others have a naturally
brooding atmosphere and demand
dramatic, theatrical and directional
lighting. And the best light might be
months away.
Look at the pictures of the Norman
Chapel at St Aldhelms Head in Dorset
on the right. The chapel has a brooding
presence, which, as can be seen from
these pictures, is best suited to low light
and heavy skies.
4) Enhancelowlight
Pre-dawn and twilight are very moody
times for landscape photography, but the
land itself can be almost completely in
shadow, with very little detail.
Near water you can include refections
as a foreground, which will help to balance
the shot and throw more drama and
impact into your image. The more still the
conditions the more mirror-like a surface.
With the sun yet to appear above the
horizon, the wonderful colours in the sky
can be used to add colour and impact
into the foreground. The slight breeze
of this scene in Mudeford (right) had to
drop before the water was still enough to
provide this perfectly clear refection.
28 Lighting TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
5) Backlightforimpact!
Theres a fancy name for this. Its called
contre-jour, from the French for against
the daylight. If you want to avoid the
funny looks, stick with backlighting.
Objects are turned to silhouettes, shadows,
rays and reections explode into the lens
and create that powerful feeling of being
there. Expose carefully, mind, its tricky.
6) Seasonallight
In winter the landscape is more exposed and the low sun casts long
shadows throughout the day. The air has less dust, giving the light clarity.
Clear, cold nights lead to frosty mornings with pastel skies.
The light in summer is often less favourable for landscape photography,
with the high sun creating harsh light for a large part of the day, with
more dust and heat haze meaning the light is generally less clear.
In early spring and late autumn, the light and clarity are better than
in summer and its possible to shoot for most of the day. The weather is
changeable, which can create moody and dramatic photo opportunities.
In late spring and early autumn, after a cool night, mist can often form at
dawn as the land begins to warm up.
Autumnlight Winterlight
30 Lighting TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Digital SLRs make seasonal comparisons
like the set of four, above, much easier.
When you revisit a location every three
months, carry the previous images on the
memory card to help you to recreate the
exact distance and crop.
Acoveringof snowmight
onlylast afewhours,
evenat highaltitude. Its a
whentheweather forecast
mentions thewhitestuff.
Time savednot having to
hunt for your flters or a
chargedbattery might
make the difference
between a shot like this
(below) anda later one with
slushy footprints all over it.
A lot of the action in landscape photography happens on the edge
the transition between one state and another. In terms of light, this
means the transition from day to night and night to day; the change
from one season to another, the transition from calm to stormy
weather and so on. Capturing these moments can result in powerful
pictures, especially when combined with other themes, such as the
boundary between land and water, wilderness and civilisation etc.
Several edge themes cometogether here: theinterval betweenonestormpassingand
another arriving, theedgeof landandwater andthetransitionbetweennight andday.
In the frst shot (left), the stormis still clearing as the sun is setting andin the second
(above) there was a fantastic afterglowbefore the next stormrolledin.
Lighting 31 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Before After
TIME OF DAY is one of the key factors that inuences the
mood of a landscape image. The low sun in the mornings and
evenings can add warmth and colour to a scene, but its equally
important to know how different seasons and certain weather
conditions can provide particular types of lighting.
Remember that some locations work better at certain times of the
year the position of sunrise and sunset varies throughout the year, so
research your location rst.
Arrive early and learn to pre-visualise and spot the potential in a scene.
This is a key ingredient to capturing great landscape images, as it gives
you time to nd the best composition before the most photogenic light of
the day arrives, so you can prepare without having to rush.
This location at Botallack in Cornwall looks its best in the evening light,
especially in August when the high sun during the day can make it look
a bit boring. In the sequence shown here, I arrived at late afternoon,
anticipating attractive evening light. I found my spot and took a frame at
5pm to use as a comparison shot for my time of day sequence. As you
can see, the light is harsh and the scene appears at and colourless.
At 6pm, its improved a little a break in the cloud meant that the blue
sky was reected in the sea, adding to the colour intensity. I had to wait
over 2 hours for the perfect light the sun broke through the clouds,
bathing my view in a beautiful warm light for all of ten minutes, before the
clouds merged again.
The sun had set but I hadnt nished yet, as the twilight was still to
come. At this time, there is no directional light and the scene now takes
on a new dimension a more surreal, calming quality. This is all down to
the light, or should I say lack of light. Shooting the scene at this time of
day means a longer exposure, and this creates a calming effect. The sea
appears smooth, the colours are cooler and more subtle and there is a
kind of harmony between the two.
Successful landscape photography is as much a state of mind as a
technical skill. Patience and dedication are as important as the right
camera, lenses and tripod. It felt good knowing that it was worth the wait,
and it really does prove that although patience is a virtue, you should
always give yourself plenty of time to nd a good viewpoint. Waiting is
the name of the game, as light can be very ckle and difcult to predict
you can never know how it will turn out.
This was a test shot to check composition. I rarely shoot during the time of day
when the sun is so high in the sky, but it allows us to see howlight improves later.
This was the last shot of the day and shows howthe twilight can make even the
roughest of seas seemcalm. The longer the exposure, the calmer it looks.
The second in the series shows a difference, the scene has more colour and because
it was taken at a later time, the light is already starting to get better.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition 32 Lighting:Timeofday
This is the image that I had
been waiting for. The light
transformation is why I do
so much photography at
these times. To watch it
unfold is truly breathtaking.
1)PLANAHEADCheck out
the weather forecast andif
youare visiting the coast,
check the tide times
sure that your gear is ready:
batteries charged, memory
cardinthe camera and
spares packed. Check the
ISOrating, White Balance
andthat the lens is clean
yourself plenty of time. The
last thing youwant is tobe
rushing aroundlooking for
a suitable composition
while the best light fades!
4)TESTSHOTSTake some
test shots. Are youhappy?
Is the exposure OK? Check
the image histogram
satisedwithyour initial
composition? Reassess and
relocate if necessary
of hours before sunrise, which is often
in the middle of the night, is not most
peoples idea of fun. But if youre
prepared to make the effort, you will
almost always reap the rewards. To do it right,
planning is essential. Check the weather forecast
and the sunrise times on the internet. Remember
to check the tide times if you are travelling to the
sea a low tide is usually the best time to visit.
If the light fails to materialise, you can always do
beach close-ups.
I try to be on location at least half an hour
before the sun rises if not earlier because its
often before the sun appears that the real magic
happens. This also gives me time to set up the
camera and to nd the best viewpoint. Dont just
look for clear days, its better to have cloud around
as this creates wonderful colours in the sky as the
cloud reects the light of the sun. Try to pre-visit
and research your location before the day of the
shoot. I use Ordnance Survey maps for detailed
information on rights of way and parking. Look for
appealing places where there will be opportunities
for shots that include foreground interest.
Mist mainly develops during a cold night and
it will only linger for a short time during the
morning or until the heat of the sun burns it away.
Something to bear in mind is that during misty
conditions, your cameras metering system will
often underexpose the scene, resulting in a dull,
lifeless landscape. To compensate for this, alter
the exposure by + or +1 stop as this helps bring
the scene to life. Check the histogram on the
cameras LCD monitor to make sure you havent
overexposed the scene.
The use of Neutral Density graduate lters is
pretty much standard in landscape photography.
They help to control the brightest part of the
image, which is usually the sky. Early in the day,
there is a noticeable difference between the light in
the sky and the light on the land.
Be aware of lens are if the sun is included in the
frame. To help eliminate this make sure that your
lters and lens optics are spotlessly clean. I rarely
use a warm-up lter. A disadvantage with these
lters is that it will make any green foliage appear
a yellow-brown colour. Instead I set my cameras
White Balance to cloudy or shade to help warm the
scene. Try to avoid using the Auto White Balance
(AWB) setting as you are sure to cool down the
light, unless of course this is the effect you want.
There are a number of reasons why I personally
prefer dawn light over sunset. I like to capture
atmosphere in my shots if I can, and early morning
is the best time to do this as you are more likely to
have a misty or frosty start to the day. The light is
often diffused and softer at this time, but its more
of a challenge to include the sun in the shot during
the morning than in the evening, because at sunset
the pollution levels have risen throughout the
day, which helps to diffuse the brightness slightly.
Another great advantage of early morning is that
its so peaceful, I rarely see another soul. The world
belongs to me its so satisfying to watch the day
unfold and witness the magical light of dawn.
Once the sun has risen and become too strong
to photograph, turn away to the side or even put
your back to the sun, but be careful not to cast a
shadow in the foreground.
Its now time to start using the warm light
illuminating the land. Light is never static but
continually changes its the main ingredient that
allows us to create something beautiful.
Getupearlyformagichour lighting
34 Lighting TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
I waited for the sun to rise
above the horizon I used
the small clump of trees to
help diffuse the sunlight.
Exposure: 0.5secs at f/22.
Many digital SLRs have a facility that
allows the mirror to be raised prior to the
exposure, to minimise shake when the
shutter is red. Youll most likely nd its
activated via a Custom
Consider what equipment
youwill need. Anabsolute
necessity is a goodsturdy
tripodas at this time of the
day youre working withlong
exposures. I use a Manfroto
MF4carbon-bre with
its a lightweight but
stable support andI
canhang my bag from
the centre post
for extra stability on
really windy days.
I always use a remote
release but if youdont have
one, use the self-timer to
stopany vibrations and
use mirror lock-upif your
SLRhas this facility.
I ndmy 17-40mm
wide-angle zoomand
my 70-200mm
useful. These two
lenses cover most of my
I use the wide-angle zoomwhen
including plenty of foregroundelements.
The telephoto zoomis especially good
for compressing perspective and
creating layers onmisty mornings.
possible to take landscape photographs
at most times of the day, there are two
times when most landscapers agree
the light will give the best results the
rst and last hours of the day. What makes these
times of day special is that the low sun casts long
shadows and helps to pick out the features of the
landscape. If youre out pre-dawn or post-sunset,
you can also see some spectacular skies as the
clouds are lit from below.
The light is quite similar at these two times of
day, and whether you prefer one or the other often
depends on which direction of light will best suit
your chosen subject. So, for example, the south
coast in winter will look best at the end of the day
rather than the start. Having said that, the light in
the nal hour of the day tends to be warmer, and
as the sun sets, the landscape is often bathed in a
golden glow. And, of course, the nice thing about
sunset compared to sunrise is that you dont have
to force yourself out of bed at a ridiculous hour to
make the most of it. Lets be honest, not everyone
has the will-power and enthusiasm for sunrises as
Helen Dixon (see previous page)!
Almost any type of landscape looks good in the
magic hour, but some features really benet, such
as stone buildings or rocky cliffs. When the low sun
warms everything up and picks out the texture of
rock and stone, scenes that might look dull at any
other time of day can be lifted out of the ordinary.
Water is also an excellent subject at this time,
because if you have an interesting sky, you can
double the impact by using reections. Moving
water can sparkle like diamonds or be made to
blur during long exposures. Again, the amount and
type of light falling on it will determine the result.
The direction of the light can have a strong
inuence on the mood of pictures taken at the
beginning or end of the day. Front lighting can look
at, as the direction of the shadows doesnt help to
pick out the details of the landscape.
With the sun to one side, shadows help create
depth in the picture and reveal form and texture.
Side-lighting is best if you want to use a polariser
to saturate colours, as it will have its strongest
effect if the camera is at a 90 angle to the sun.
Backlighting can be very dramatic, but exposure is
difcult to control and you will have to be careful to
avoid are as light falls directly onto your lters or
the front element of your lens.
So, with weather being notoriously
unpredictable, how can you tell if the magic
hour will live up to your expectations? Looking at
weather forecasts is a good idea. The Met Ofces
website ( is reliable and
you can get a fairly detailed forecast for specic
regions. Remember that the longer the range of
the forecast, the less reliable it will be. Checking
the forecast online the night before a dawn shoot
gives you the best guide to what to expect.
If you drive to your location, listen to local radio
stations in the car, rather than national ones and
keeping an eye on whats happening in the sky can
tell you a lot.
For sunsets youll need to look to the west, as
this is where the sun will be at magic hour. Most of
our weather fronts come from the west too, so by
keeping an eye in that direction, its possible to see
if cloud is likely to break up or thicken.
Being aware of wind direction, the points of
the compass and weather patterns will help
enormously and you will eventually start to
recognise the signs of a magic moment.
Lighting 35 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
The lowsun picks out the details of
the rocky ledge and gives the cliffs
a warmglow. A0.6NDgrad, angled
so as not to cut into the cliff, helps
retain details in the sky.
Canon EOS 5Dwith 17-40mmlens.
The White Balance you set has a major
effect on the nal result. Avoid using the
Auto setting. If you shoot in Raw, you can
try out all the settings later on your
computer and choose your favourite
Wide-angle lenses are the most popular
for landscape work, but longer lenses
canalso be useful for picking out the
kindof patterns andtextures that the
magic hour canreveal.
Apolarising lter will helpyoumake
the most of side lighting by improving
overall saturation, but is especially
effective whenusedwithblue skies.
Asturdy tripodis another essential.
If youre shooting inthe periodafter
sunset, light levels will be lowand
hand-holding will be out of the question.
But its goodpractice to use a tripod
whatever the lighting conditions it will
slowyoudown, it makes youthink andit
enables youto make small but oftenvital
changes to composition.
Neutral density graduate lters are
essential, especially if clouds are lit from
belowandthere is no direct light onthe
land. NDgrads helpcontrol contrast.
Sharpness:TheBasics 37
Letsimagineyouvejustfocusedon an object that is fve metres away.
Howsharpwill something be at six metres? or even fve-and-a-half metres?
the answer is governedby depth-of-feld the distance either side of the point
of focus that is deemedto be acceptably in focus. as long as you control the
aperture that you are shooting at, then you are in control of depth-of-feld, and
you can use it creatively. there will be occasions when you dont want much of
it at all, andyoull get that effect by shooting with a large aperture like f/4.
However, for most of the time that youre shooting landscapes youll want to
maximise depth-of-feldto get as much of a scene in focus as possible. .
foregrounddetail is important andhas to be in focus, but so does the rest
of the scene. this means using small apertures to get goodsharpness either
side of the focus point. But just consider this last phrase for a moment, and
then think about where you might focus when shooting a landscape. many
novice landscape photographers are happy focusing at infnity when
shooting a landscape, but dont forget that depth-of-feldextends either side
of the point of focus. in fact the area of depth-of-feldextends one-thirdin
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
front of the focusedpoint andtwo-thirds behind, in other words, you get more
depth-of-feldbehindthe subject than in front of it. obviously there is no
beneft to having acceptable sharpness extending beyondinfnity, but what
you can do is pull the point of focus back towards you, so its the endof the
depth-of-feldzone that is at infnity instead. this way youll get more of the
scene sharp. this technique is calledhyperfocal focusing, andhas been used
by professional landscape photographers for decades. the optimumpoint of
focus for any particular scene relies on the choice of aperture setting andthe
focal length of the lens you use andchanges for full-frame andcropped
sensor dsLRs! there are calculators andpocket reference tables you can
stash in your camera bag, or you can use a dependable rule-of-thumbthat
suggests you aima thirdof the way into the picture with your lens set to a small
aperture. Well be covering both focusing techniques, as well as providing
you with other expert advice to ensure you maximise image sharpness.
this includes revealing why using the smallest aperture wont necessarily
produce the sharpest results, even though it gives the most depth-of-feld!
One Of the fundamentals of successful landscape
photography is being able to control and assess depth-of-
feld to ensure that the image is sharp from front-to-back.
aperture-priority mode helps you to achieve this, not
only by forcing you to think about which aperture to set,
but also by making sure that once it is set, that aperture
wont change if light levels fuctuate or you put flters on
the lens. If the exposure has to be adjusted when shooting
in aperture-priority mode, the camera does it by changing
the shutter speed, so the aperture remains constant. this
is vitally important because achieving extensive depth-of-
feld is not just about aperture selection, but also focusing
distance, and a careful balancing act between the two is
required to ensure the best possible results. You could
take every picture at f/22 with the lens set to infnity and
most wide-angle shots would be sharp from front to back.
unfortunately, this simple approach wont always work
so youre not going to get the best results. Wide-angles
and zooms tend to give their worst optical performance
when at minimum aperture and their best around f/11,
so ideally you should shoot as close to f/11 as you can to
achieve optimum optical quality, and focus the lens at a
distance that maximises depth-of-feld at that aperture.
Over the page, helen dixon provides a simple focusing
method along these lines that yields excellent results.
my favourite technique is based around something
known as hyperfocal focusing, which involves focusing
on a point known as the hyperfocal distance, where
depth-of-feld is maximised for the aperture in use. lenses
used to feature a hyperfocal distance scale on the barrel
but virtually none do today. there is an equation for
calculating hyperfocal distance for any lens and aperture,
so in true Blue Peter fashion, I did just that and created
a hyperfocal distance chart, which you can copy and
refer to when youre on location. the distances in feet (ft)
represent the hyperfocal distances for each focal length
and aperture. If you focus your lens on that distance and
set the corresponding aperture, depth-of-feld will extend
from half the hyperfocal distance to infnity. so, if youre
using an aPs-C-sized sensor, shooting at 24mm and f/11,
focus on a point 9ft away and depth-of-feld will extend
from 4.5ft (half the hyperfocal distance) to infnity which
is more than enough depth-of-feld in most situations.
landscapespecialist leefrost explainshow
tousethehyperfocal focusingdistanceand
aperture-priorityfor super-sharpscenics
Before fnally going digital back in the spring of 2008, Id
spent 20 years shooting with flm cameras that had no internal
metering, so I used a handheld spot meter to determine correct
exposure which then had to be manually set on the camera.
Thankfully, those days are long gone. Digital SLRs have
fantastic integral metering systems that are capable of
producing perfectly exposed images in all but the most
demanding situations, so I cant see the point in making my life
more complicated than it needs to be. These days my digital
SLR is set to aperture-priority mode and multi-zone metering
and generally stays that way. Combined with the feedback
provided by the cameras preview image and the image
histogram, Ive got all I need to ensure I get perfect exposures
in any shooting situation. The same applies to you.
38 Sharpness
Focal length 12mm 15mm 17mm 20mm 24mm 28mm 35mm 50mm 70mm 100mm 135mm
Aperture f/8 3.2ft 5ft 6.4ft 8.9ft 12.6ft 17ft 27ft 55ft 105ft 218ft 395ft
f/11 2.3ft 3.5ft 4.5ft 6.2ft 9ft 12ft 19ft 39ft 75ft 155ft 280ft
f/16 1.7ft 2.5ft 3.3ft 4.4ft 6.4ft 8.6ft 14.5ft 27ft 54ft 110ft 198ft
f/22 1.2ft 0.9ft 2.3ft 3.2ft 4.5ft 6ft 9.5ft 19.2ft 38ft 77ft 140ft
Focal length 16mm 20mm 24mm 28mm 35mm 50mm 70mm 100mm 135mm
Aperture f/8 3.8ft 5.6ft 8.0ft 11ft 17ft 35ft 68ft 138ft 250ft
f/11 2.6ft 3.9ft 5.8ft 7.8ft 12ft 25ft 48ft 98ft 178ft
f/16 1.9ft 2.9ft 4.0ft 5.5ft 8.5ft 17.5ft 34ft 70ft 125ft
f/22 0.4ft 2.0ft 2.9ft 3.9ft 6ft 12.5ft 24ft 49ft 89ft
theessential GuidetolandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Sharpness 39
If youre an absolute
beginner, start off by
shooting at f/11 if you
can, to optimise image
quality, and only use
a smaller aperture if
you need to get more
Howeasy is that!
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
If you want to shoot great landscapes in
good light, without compromising image
quality, mount your camera on a tripod so
you dont have to worry about slow
shutter speeds causing camera shake
Focusing on the post
kept the foreground
sharp but the boats in
the distance are soft.
Focusing on innity,
as many beginners do,
gives a soft-looking
Whenusing the hyperfocal distance method, youll
notice that the viewnder image looks unsharp
whenyouve focuseda thirdof the way into the
frame. This is because your lens is always set to
the widest aperture to provide a bright viewnder
image depth-of-eldwill be minimal. Use the
depth-of-eldpreviewbuttonor take a shot at your
chosenaperture andyoull see that the image
really has far more depth-of-eld, because the
lens has closeddownfor the exposure.
TAKINGTHESHOTS: Helen sets up a tripod, essential for preventing blurred shots
caused by shake, then uses Live Viewto check the depth-of-eld of the shot on her LCD
monitor while selecting the aperture. After taking the shot, she can then check the
images sharpness on the LCDscreen by magnifying different parts of the frame.
WITHHELENDIXONThe normal practice for beginners shooting
landscapes is to place their DSLR on a tripod, focus on innity and
set a very small aperture to give enough depth-of-eld to keep
most or all of the scene in focus. Its a tried and tested method
that works well, but can be improved upon by ne-tuning focusing
technique and the choice of aperture.
Looking at focusing rst, when you focus on innity, i.e. on the distance,
the depth-of-eld will extend a third of the way in front of the focusing point
and two-thirds behind. So while part of the foreground is sharp, the area
closest to you may well be out of focus. Also, youll have wasted two-thirds
of the available depth-of-eld, which stretches beyond innity. Instead, by
focusing part of the way into the frame, you can maximise depth-of-eld so
that it covers the foreground and the distance.
The optimum distance at which you should focus is termed the hyperfocal
distance and there are various elaborate ways of calculating it. The simplest
method for focusing by far (and one that works 99% of the time) is to
focus one third of the way into the scene. By doing this, and setting a small
aperture, youre ensuring that the depth-of-eld in front of the focusing point
covers most, if not all, of the foreground, while the area behind is kept sharp
by the other two-thirds of the depth-of-eld. If you want to be as precise with
your focusing as possible, use the table on the previous page.
With the focusing technique taken care of, well move onto your choice of
aperture. While setting the smallest aperture (e.g. f/32) gives the most depth-
of-eld, it doesnt necessarily give the sharpest results. Thats due to two
main reasons: most lenses are optically designed to give the sharpest results
at apertures of around f/8 to f/13, while at smaller apertures the effects of
diffraction softens the image, thus negating any benets provided by depth-of-
eld. The optimum aperture to use varies from lens to lens so the only way to
discover for yourself is through trial and error, shooting at different apertures
and comparing the sharpness on your LCD monitor or ideally at home on you
computer, where you can magnify images for close scrutiny.
For the sharpest possible results, using the hyperfocal distance method
explained by Lee Frost on the previous pages is best. Of course, you must
make sure that you set your camera up on a tripod, to reduce the risk
of camera shake. But this process can be time-consuming and for most
people, my technique is ideal. The images shown here were shot using a
fairly dominant foreground to emphasise the effect of changing the focusing
distance. The aperture was f/13 for all three images.
40 Sharpness
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Sharpness 41
Focusing a third of the
way into the scene and
using f/13 ensured
Focusing a third of the
way into the scene and
using f/13 ensured
Set your DSLRupona
tripodtominimise shake
Focus one-thirdof the
way intothe scene
Chooseasmall aperture
likef/13-f/16toget thebest
possibleoptical quality
Check depth-of-eld
Check imagesharpness
by zoomingintotheimage
onyour LCDmonitor
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography

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Alternativelyvisit www.magbooks.comforprintanddigitaleditions
MagBookscoverarangeoftopics, fromITtoMotoring, andFitnesstoLifestyle
Sharpness 43
EFFECTSOFDIFFRACTION: This image shows the full
frame. The box shows the cropped section used to
illustrate the effect of diffraction. It was taken with a
Canon EOS 20Dand 17-40mmlens.
COMPARISONRESULTS: The results may not be so
obvious in magazine reproduction, but are very clear
in large prints. At f/8, everything looks pretty sharp,
with good detail in the background foliage. Things still
look good at f/11, but once stopped down further than
this, instead of becoming sharper as depth-of-eld
increases, the image becomes noticeably less sharp
and detailed. This is crucial in landscape photography,
especially when making large prints, and it is this
mushy looking foliage that spoils digital landscapes
for many photographers.
The more you close the aperture down, the greater
the depth-of-eld, so the usual advice given for
sharp results is to use very small apertures, such as
f/16 and f/22. However, stopping down too far can
actually be detrimental to image sharpness and this
is due to an optical effect called diffraction.
The simple explanation of diffraction is that
when light passes through the aperture of a lens,
the edges of the hole disperse the light waves.
As the aperture is stopped down, the amount of
diffracted light becomes a larger percentage of the
total amount of light being recorded and the image
becomes noticeably less sharp, meaning less detail
is resolved on the image.
APS-C and full-frame sensors are affected slightly
differently, and certain lenses will be more prone
to diffraction than others. But in general, with an
APS-C-sized sensor, youll start to notice the effects
of diffraction if you stop down beyond f/11 and with
a full-frame camera, once you go beyond f/16.
Of course, you can use apertures smaller than
that and decide between overall sharpness and
depth-of-eld relevant to the amount of ne detail
you think its necessary to record in any one
particular image. That said, its worth remembering
that a 17mm lens on an APS-C-sized sensor will
give you a depth-of-eld from 2 feet to innity
when set to the hyperfocal distance at f/11
enough for most situations.
To illustrate the effects of diffraction at different
apertures, weve shown a series of pictures at f/8,
f/11, f/16 and f/22 focusing and overall exposure
remained constant the only change was the lens
aperture. The pictures were all processed using the
same software and settings when post-processing.
More sharpening than usual has been used to make
the effects more obvious.
f/8 f/11 f/16 f/22
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
This optical term
refers to a loss in image
detail. In simple terms, it occurs when
light rays are dispersed by the iris in the
lens, so diffraction becomes more
common the smaller the aperture used
ALTHOUGHYOUPROBABLYdont realiseit yet, producing
top-notchimagesiseasier nowthanat anystageintheentire
historyof photography, thankstodigital technology. Chancesare
manyof youwill havecomeintophotographyduringthedigital
era, inwhichcaseyoull havelittleor noexperienceof what life
waslikepre-pixels. Well takeit fromustakingpicturesusing
digital isawalkintheparkcomparedtoshootinglm.
Beingabletoseeyour shotssecondsafter takingthemisa
correctingmistakesandmakingchangessothat youneed
never missagreat shot. Thisimmediacy, andthefact that every
pressof thecamerasshutter buttondoesnt cost money, also
encouragesyoutotakecreativerisks, whichisbyfar thebest
waytomaster newtechniquesandne-tuneyour skills.
Of course, trippingtheshutter isjust therst stageinthe
creativeprocess, asoncehomeyour imagesarethen
downloadedtoacomputer whereyoucanturnthosemillionsof
coloureddotsintoamazingworksof art withtheaidof thelatest
editingsoftware. Successful digital imagingthereforerequiresa
combinationof solidcameraworkandsympatheticprocessing.
For manycreativephotographers, theresonlyonewayto
achieveboth: shootinginRaw. If youvefavouredJPEGuntil
now, andcant seehowswitchingtoRawwouldbenet you,
readonasweexplainthemanybenetsyoull gaingoingRaw.
46 Raw TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
andaJPEGis that whenyoushoot inRaw
format, the images recordedonyour cameras
memory cardconsist of the rawdatafromthe
sensor. Nothingis added, takenaway or
changed. If youshoot inJPEG, the camera
records all the rawdatathendevelops the le
in-camera; applyingpre-set parameters to
White Balance, sharpeningandcustomcamera
styles etc, deletingany unnecessary information
andthenerasingremainingrawdataas well.
Inlmterms, aRawle is abit like anegative
whereas aJPEGis similar toacolour slide.
Slides are convenient because they come back
fromthe processinglabnishedandready to
view. The same canbe saidfor JPEGs, whichare
supposedly ready toprint straight fromthe
camera. However, this convenience means that
youneedtoget everythingright in-camera, so
theres less roomfor error. Negatives are more
time-consumingthanslides as youneedto
developthemhowyousee t inthe darkroom,
but are muchmore versatile withmore latitude
for error. Rawles are the same. They always
require processing usingsuitable software
before theyre considerednished, but this
allows youtomake changes toenhance the
images andcorrect in-cameramistakes. The
key parameters youcancontrol inRaware:
Colour temperature canbe adjustedtoget rid
of unwantedcasts or tochange the moodof an
image. This canbe done withJPEGs in
Photoshop, but not withthe same precision.
Exposure canbe correctedor adjustedfor
creative reasons without compromising
image quality. Whereas if youmake aJPEG
lighter or darker, image quality will be affected.
Youcanalsooptimise image quality by
overexposingRawles in-cameratojust before
the highlights become blown, as shadowdetail
is increasedandthe effects of noise reduced.
The exposure canthenbe pulledback while
processingthe Rawle. This is only possible
because the Rawle contains more datathan
youneed, whereas aJPEGis already
compressed,sospare datahas beendeleted.
If youdoaccidentally overexpose aRawle so
the highlights blowout, youcanrecover detail
duringprocessing. This isnt possible with
JPEGs, soblownhighlights appear white andif
youtry todarkenthemthey simply gogrey.
Sharpeningcanbe appliedusingthe
sharpeningtools inRawle processingsoftware
or viathird-party applications. JPEGs, however,
are already sharpenedsoextrawork must be
done carefully sonot tospoil the images.
Any changes youmake toaRawle are
non-destructive, because whenits convertedto,
ideally, aTIFFle, the original Rawimage
remains unchanged. This means youcanreturn
tothe same Rawle inthe future toprocess it
again. Rawles alsocontainsomuchdatathey
canbe processedseveral times thencombined
either toaddress exposure andcontrast
problems, or usedas the basis for creative
techniques suchas HDR(HighDynamic
Range), whichwell showyouhowtodolater.
Ultimately, if optimumimage quality is what
youwant, your best chance is toshoot Raw. Raw
les support 16-bits of dataper colour channel
whereas JPEGs support 8-bits. The difference in
image quality wont be obvious initially, but
heavy editingreduces quality and8-bit les will
showthis more readily than16-bit.
Many photographers are put off shootingRaw
as they assume its complicated. But usingRaw
processingsoftware is very intuitive (see panel)
andany changes youmake caneasily be
reversedor cancelled. AJPEG, onthe other
hand, while seenas the more convenient format
for beginners, actually leaves more roomfor
mistakes, whichbeginners will surely make.
What are the downsides toshootinginRaw?
Well, aside fromspendingmore time at your
computer processingles, there arent many.
Andif youget as muchright incameraas you
can, aRawle canbe processedinamatter of
seconds. Rawles are aroundfour times bigger
interms of megabytes thanJPEGs, sotake up
more storage space. However, memory cards
andexternal harddrives are cheapthese days,
soif youve spent afortune onyour DSLR, its
false economy tochoose animage format
simply tosave onstorage space. Bigger image
les alsomeanyour DSLRs buffer will ll up
faster if youshoot inRaw. While this might
prove frustratingwhenshootingsubjects such
as sports andwildlife, where lots of shots are
takeninquick succession, it isnt areal concern
for the landscape photographer.
If maximumdetail andcontrol iswhatyouneed, thenshootingin
Rawistheanswer. Wecoverthebasicsyouneedtogetstarted...
QI cant opentheRawlesfrommynewDSLR?
AThats because camera manufacturers keep
changing Rawle formats as they launch new
cameras. Adobe release regular upgrades for
Adobe Camera Raw(ACR) for newcameras.
Go to www.adobe.comand see if the latest upgrade
includes your camera.
QI just processedsomeRawlesandsavedthemas
TIFFs, but thelesarereallysmall. What happened?
AIf youre using ACR, open a Rawle and belowthe
le number for the previewimage youll see a line of
text. Click on it and a WorkowOptions windowopens.
Choose Adobe RGB(1998) for Space, 16 Bits/Channel
for Depth, 300pixels/inch for Resolution and for Size,
choose the closest size that matches your cameras
maximumpixel resolution.
Setting your DSLRto shoot in Rawis easy: simply
select the Image Quality setting via the LCD
menu screen and choose Raw(or Raw+JPEG).
In terms of howyou use your camera and its
controls, that remains pretty much the same.
The only difference is that when shooting Raw,
you give the image as much exposure as you can
without clipping or overexposing the highlights.
By doing this youll record as much shadowdetail
as possible and better image quality as a result.
It does mean that the images in their rawstate
appear overexposed, but this is easily resolved
during Rawle processing, which youll nd a
step-by-step guide for later in this guide. Youll
also note that the number of shots you can t on
your card drops dramatically, so carry spares!
You needspecial software to process Raw
les. When you buy a digital SLR, it comes
with a CD-ROMcontaining the camera
makers own Rawprocessor, Canon has its
own system, so does Nikon etc. However,
the majority of photographers prefer to use
a third-party Rawprocessor. By far the most
popular is Adobe Camera Raw, foundin
all versions of Adobe PhotoshopfromCS2
onwards, PhotoshopElements since version
3.0andall versions of Adobe Lightroom.
Apple Aperture also has its own Raw
convertor, while Capture One fromPhase
One is popular with some photographers.
SilkyPix is less known but worth trying the
free trial download.
If youre uneasy about shooting Rawinitially, why
not set your camera torecordevery image inboth
RawandJPEG? That way, while youget usedto
processing Rawles, youknowyouve alsogot
JPEGs of the same images, for reassurance
ShootRawandJPEG JP
Ever lookedat images andwondered
howthephotographer capturedso
muchdetail inthescene?Nodoubt
Image: adamburton
48 Raw TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
HSL: (Hue, Saturation and
Luminance). The controls on the
HSL/Grayscale tab allowyou to
target specic colours in a similar
fashion to Photoshops Selective
Color. Use the Hue Tool to change a
colour, the Saturation to alter its
purity and Luminance for
brightness. Its a good idea to
increase a colours saturation and
decrease its luminance, rather than
just pump up the saturation.
GrayscaleMix: Under theHSL/
Grayscale tabyouhavetheoptionof
checkingtheConvert toGrayscale
box, whichwill bringupanewset of
tools labeledGrayscaleMix. As well
as anAutooption, youcantake
control over thetonal rangeof your
black &whiteconversionby
adjustingthelevel of eachcolours
toneinyour original image.
By selecting the Camera
Calibration tab, you can pick
froma selection of your
in-camera proles to apply to
your image. Locate the different
proles such as Neutral, Vivid,
Landscape and Portrait by
clicking the drop-down menu
labeled Name.
Facedwithaplethoraof editingtools anddont knowwheretostart?
Findout moreabout thefunctions featuredonPhotoshopCS3s interface
WhiteBalance: Shooting in
Rawmeans you can control the
White Balance in post-production,
rather than have to select the right
White Balance preset in-camera.
Under the Basic tab you have all
the in-camera WBpresets available
in a drop-down menu to pick from
(e.g. Auto, Daylight, Cloudy etc).
You can also use the Temperature
and Tint sliders to create your own
CustomWB. Alternatively, you
could use the White Balance Tool
(found in the tool bar see the
adjacent page) to click on a pure
white part of the image, which will
then set the WBaccordingly.
NoiseReduction: Under the
Detail tab is a section dedicated to
Noise Reduction. It is divided into
two features: Luminance,
(grayscale noise that tends to make
an image look grainy); and Color
that copes with Chroma noise. To
see the effects, enlarge your image
to at least 100%.
SplitToning: Give your shot a
completely different look using this
traditional darkroomtreatment of
tinting the highlights and shadows.
You can do this simply by selecting
the Split Toning tab and then
moving the applicable Hue slider to
change the colour and the
Saturation slider to set the
intensity. Dont neglect the Balance
slider either as this will allowyou to
put more emphasis on the intensity
of the shadows tint or the
highlights tint, depending on
which direction you move it.
LensVignetting: Found under
the Lens Correction tab, this is a
corrective and creative tool that
allows you to darken or lighten the
edges of an image. As light fall off is
a lens defect that causes the
corners of an image to darken,
some photographers prefer to
correct it. But others like to
enhance the effect, making it
stronger. You can control the
midpoint, feather and roundness of
the vignette with this tool.
This tool is analternative to the
Saturationslider, whichadjusts all
the colours inanimage equally.
The Vibrance Tool onthe other
handaffects colours that need
boosting, having less affect onthe
colours already highinsaturation.
Recovery: This is an image
saver for anyone who has slightly
overexposed their highlights. This
nifty tool should obviously not be
relied upon but is denitely one of
the most invaluable features in
ACR. It can recover mid-tone detail
fromblown highlights.
FillLight: Fill Light can be found
under the Basic tab and attempts to
recover details fromshadows,
without brightening any blacks.
Similar to if you were to use ll-in
ash, this tool will cast some light
into your foreground use it with the
Blacks slider to add more punch.
of editing tools that canrescue animage or unleash
its creative potential. The margins for adjustment are
muchwider witha Rawle thanfor JPEG, due to the
sheer mass of informationpackedin, so the
opportunity to experiment without damaging image
quality is vast. Here, using Adobe Camera Raws
(ACR) interface, we hope to helpyouto understand
more of the features at your disposal andopenyour
eyes to the power of Rawphotography.
While some photographers may do the bare
essentials inACR, andcontinue processing in
Photoshops mainbody, youcoulddo most if not all
of your post-productioninRawif youwantedto.
Tools suchas Exposure, Contrast, Clarity andCurves
are workhorse sliders that youwill most likely use
every time youopena newimage, andtherefore well
address these inour step-by-steps inthe next few
pages. Instead, here are tenof the lesser known
adjustment tools that are well worthdiscovering...
Raw 49 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
CS4Features all the tools of CS3with the
addition of an Adjustment Brush andGraduated
Filter, foundon the tool bar. The Adjustment Brush is
the niftier of the two, allowing you to make very
specic adjustments to selectedareas of the image
depending on the size andradius of the brush you set.
CS5As well as a fewnewne-tuning sliders to
Noise Reduction andthe addition of an Effects tab,
which allows you to addgrain to your image, the tool
bar nowhas a TargetedAdjustment control for
photographers who ndworking directly on an image
more intuitive. Users can control the adjustments
directly on the image by dragging their cursor upor
down to increase or decrease the effect, respectively.
Open a Raw le in Photoshop and youre
presented with the following interface.
Here we explain the main commands
that are displayed.
1) TOOL BAR Contains all selectable
tools such as Zoom Tool, Hand Tool and
Crop Tool. Users of the latest version of
Photoshop also have access to the
Adjustment Brush and Graduated Filter.
Like the main Photoshop program, all
the tools have single letter keyboard
shortcuts that are worth getting to know.
2) HISTOGRAMThe histogram tells you
exactly what is happening to your Raw
information in real time as you alter the
dialogue controls. It takes the form of a
graph, representing colour in numbers
from 0 to 255, going from left to right,
darkest to lightest. The white shade
represents the combined red, green
and blue channels and gives you the
foremost indication of exposure.
3) INFOPALETTE Shows the pixel
readings for red, green and blue
channels from 0 to 255 when the
cursor is placed in the main window,
and also contains image metadata
information such as aperture in
f/stops, shutter speed in seconds,
ISO rating and focal length.
preview window for the open image.
You can zoom in using the Zoom Tool
or the plus and minus buttons or
drop-down menu underneath and can
move around the image using the
Hand Tool or by holding down the
Spacebar and dragging. Check the
Preview box to see your image with
and without current edits.
5) CONTROL TABS You can negotiate
between the different control tabs by
clicking on each. The rst tab is labelled
Basic and contains the controls that you
will use most often, such as the
Exposure and Blacks sliders. Other
tabs are Tone Curve, Detail, HSL/
Greyscale, Split Toning, Lens
Corrections, Camera Calibration and
Presets. Elements users have only Basic,
Camera Calibration and Presets.
6) CONTROL WINDOWThis is the
main dialogue window that contains
the controls for each of the specic
control tabs. Theyre all slider based,
other than the Point Curve section of the
Tone Curve tab (which allows you
to plot points on a curve) and the
Preset tab, which involves simply
selecting listed Presets.
7) OUTPUT BUTTONS Along the bottom
youll nd all the buttons for doing what
you choose once you have nished your
edits. You can Save, Save As, Open,
Open a Copy or use Done to store your
edits without actually processing the
Raw le. Holding down Alt/Option gives
you access to the extra options.
While youexperiment
withthe various editing
features, youcanjudge
their effect onyour
image by viewingit in
the previewscreento
the left of your tools.
Remember to note the default setting of
your adjustment tool before you start
using the sliders so, if you make a
mistake, you knowhowto correct it.
Some tools have a Default button though,
which can revert any changes back,
leaving you roomto experiment
Notethesettings g
Processingrawfilesis a straightforward task, though howlong it
takes and howmany adjustments you need to make to the image
depends on howclose you get it to fnished image in-camera.
Photographers who are used to shooting flmbefore switching to digital,
tend to do more work on their images at the time theyre taken because
thats what they had to do with flm. old habits die hard, and thats not a
bad thing in this case. if youve only ever used a digital camera theres a
greater chance youll rely more on software to sort out your mistakes,
which means spending far longer at a computer than you need to.
our step-by-step guide shows you howto process rawfles using
adobe camera raw(acr) and what the different tools do to the image.
weve intentionally chosen a rawfle that needed plenty of work, but
ideally it shouldnt take longer than a handful minutes to open a rawfle,
process it and turn it into a high-quality JPegor Tiff fle.
our step-by-stepprovidesasimpleandeffectivewaytoconvert arawfleintoastunningJPegor Tiff
Rawfles produce the best image whenthe tones are weightedtothe
right side of the histogram. But if they touchthe right side highlights will
be clipped, whichmeans some area of the image have norecordeddetail.
Click the redtriangle above the histogramtoshowoverexposedareas inred.
Whenyouopenyour Rawfles youmay be disappointedbecause they
oftenlook rather fat andwashedout. This is because youre seeingthe
image inanunadulteratedstate, whereas the previewimage yousee onyour
cameras LCDis a small JPEGof the Rawfle andsotends tolook better.
Clickingonthe Tone Curve iconinthe tool bar brings upa Curves window
withsliders for Highlights, Lights, Darks andShadows. Inthis case,
increasingthe values for the Highlights andLights andreducingthe values for
Darks andShadows boosts contrast andbrings the image tolife.
Check the Colour Temperature next. Our shot was takenwiththe camera
set toAutoWhite Balance andhas a slight warmcast. Normally that
wouldbe a goodthing, but inthis case it gives the image a muddy look sothe
colour temperature is changedtoDaylight (5500K) tocool it downa little.
Clipped highlights mainly happeninthe sky andare quite common
whenshootinglandscapes. Overexposedhighlights canbe recovered, to
anextent, usingthe Recovery slider inACR. Inthis case, applyingit toa level
of 20sorts out the sky. Recovery fattens contrast souse it sparingly.
The next jobis totackle the exposure as the image is still looking
wishy-washy. Pullingthe Exposure slider tothe left to-0.75makes a
noticeable difference by darkeningthe image, thoughit still looks a little fat
andlifeless. Again, this is commonwhenyoushoot inRawbut easily solved.
50 Raw TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Rawfles always needsharpeningtooptimise image quality. There are
several ways todothis andphotographers have their ownfavourites, but
whenusingACR, zoomintothe image 100%andadjust the sliders, keeping
Radius at 1.0. Watchout for noise creepingin.
Images shot withultra-wide lenses or zooms oftenexhibit vignetting
where the corners of the image come out darker thanthe rest.
This canbe correctedinACRusingthe Lens Vignettingslider inthe Lens
Correctionwindow. Chromatic Aberrationcanalsobe corrected.
Nowits time toboost the colours. There are twosliders youcanuse in
ACRVibrance andSaturation. Vibrance is more subtle because it
affects lower-saturatedcolours andleaves those that are already deeply
saturatedalone. Here settingVibrance to20boosts does the trick.
Another handy slider inACRis Clarity, whichadds depthtoanimage by
increasinglocal contrast. Zoominto100%whenusingit, increase the
level until halos appear near the edge details thenreduce it slightly. Or simply
apply ina lowlevel inthis case +10togive the image anextra boost.
The image was saved as a
16-bit TIFF and opened in
Photoshop, where sensor
blemishes were removed
using the Healing Brush
and Levels tweaked to add
impact to the sky.
52 Raw
Rawle is it contains far more information and
detail than you actually need to create a
successful image. You cant see this detail, of
course, because its beyond the dynamic range
of a single TIFF, PSDor JPEGle. What it does
mean though is that in images where the
contrast is too great to hold detail in the
lightest and darkest tones (shadows), you can
process a Rawle twice once with the
exposure correct for the dark tones and once
with the exposure correct for the light tones
then merge the two in Photoshop to create a
single image with extended brightness range.
Heres a step-by-step guide to howits done.
ShootinginRawlets youusePhotoshoptodrawout moredetail
fromascene, inthis instancebymergingtwodifferent exposures
Youll save yourself heaps of time at the
computer if you use a Neutral Density (ND) grad
lter when taking this type of shot, as it will tone
down the sky so it doesnt blowout when you
expose for the darker foreground. In this case a
0.6 or maybe even a 0.9NDgrad would have
done the trick, capturing an image close to the
nal one here but in a single frame. Many
photographers assume NDgrads arent
necessary with digital SLRs, but they are!
Close ACRthen open the two TIFF les youve
just made in Photoshop. Click on the darker
image, go to Select>All, then Edit>Copy and the
image will be copied. Close the darker image,
click on the lighter image to make it active then
go to Edit>Paste and the darker image will be
combined with it as a layer.
Open the original Rawle in Adobe Camera
Raw(ACR), then adjust the exposure of the
image until the sky looks correct. This will make
the foreground really dark but dont worry. The
Exposure slider in ACRcan be used, and/or the
sliders in the Tone Curve window. Once youre
happy, save the image as a 16-bit TIFF le.
With the darker image layer active, click on
the Square Marquee Tool near the top of the
Photoshop tool bar, and select the dark
foreground fromjust belowthe horizon. Then go
to Edit>Cut and the dark foreground will
disappear to reveal the correctly exposed one.
The image already looks a lot better.
The Rawle will remain open in ACRand the
rst version of it will be saved to your
computers desktop. Nowyou need to make a
second version of the original Rawle, this time
adjusting the exposure until the foreground looks
correct. Doing this will burn-out the sky, as you
can see. Save this image as a 16-bit TIFF le.
Nowits time to clean up the edges left from
the dark foreground, so select the Eraser Tool
fromthe tool bar. Choose a medium-sized
soft-edged brush and with the Opacity set to
40-50%, start erasing the last unwanted bits of
the darker image to reveal the correctly exposed
foreground fromthe layer beneath.
With the sky and foreground looking much
better, its a case of fne-tuning the images
contrast and colour. First the colours are given a
boost by going to Image>Adjustments>Hue/
Saturation and moving the Saturation slider to
+25%. Any more than that and the colours may
start to look unreal, so dont go over the top.
Attention is nowturned to selective exposure
and contrast control. The left side of the
image is noticeably darker than the rest so its
selected using the Polygonal Lasso Tool in
Photoshop, set to a feather of 100pixels, then
Levels are adjusted. Further selections and Levels
adjustments are made to other areas.
Finally, the Dodge Tool is selected fromthe
tool bar, with an Exposure set to around 10%.
The smaller areas of the image are then carefully
lightened, in a similar way to dodging areas of a
print in the darkroomduring exposure to prevent
thembecoming too dark. Its much more
controllable and precise in Photoshop, though!
The fnal image is dramatic and
atmospheric, withperfectly-exposed
foregroundandsky. It was only by
capturingthe scene inRawthat such
a radical transformationwas possible.
54 Raw TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
TakeTheideaof merging more than one image a
step further and you enter the amazing world of hdR
(high dynamic Range); a creative technique that can
produce stunning results, where detail is recorded in
everything fromthe darkest shadows to the brightest
highlights and mundane scenes are transformed into
something extraordinary. Many photographers have
already discovered the delights of hdR, and working
with Rawfles increases its potential even further as
each fle contains masses of information, and when
you combine several of themyoull take your
photography literally into another dimension. heres
a step-by-step guide to creating hdRimages using
one of the best pieces of software on the market
Photomatix Pro (see panel). While youll have to
spend a little to use this software, we think the
expense is fully justifed as its a fantastic package.
hdRimages still polariseopinionbut thereis nodenyingits effects are
uniqueandeye-catching. Tryour step-by-steptoseeif youlikewhat it does
Photoshop or Photomatix Pro?
Versions of Adobe Photoshop from
CS3 onwards have an HDRfeature
found at File>Automate>Merge
to HDR. Its okay, but the resulting
images tend to be rather fat and
the controls to improve themare
limited. Afaster, more versatile
option is Photomatix Pro, specialist
HDRsoftware fromwww.hdrsoft.
com. The latest version, 4.0, costs
$99 as a standalone application or
there are various other purchase
options, including plug-ins
for Photoshop, Aperture and
Lightroom. It works brilliantly, and
the Tone Mapping controls give you
loads of control over the fnal result.
Changing Light Smoothing to
the Very High setting makes the
image far more realistic but the HDR
effect is still visible. At this stage its
also worth experimenting with the
other sliders to see what they do
try tweaking Strength, Colour
Saturation, Luminosity, White Point,
Black Point and Gamma.
Launch Photomatix Pro software
and a WorkfowShortcuts
windowappears. Click Generate
HDRImage at the top of the window
and a second windowappears,
Generate HDR Selecting source
images. You can drag and drop Raw
fles on this windowor use the
Browse option. Click OKwhen done.
The image should be taking
shape now, but before saving it,
take a look at the control beneath
the Histogram: Tone, Colour, Micro
and S/H. These make more subtle
changes and let you fne-tune the
HDReffect until youre happy with
the look of the image. Play with all of
themto see what they do.
Yet another windowappears:
Generate HDR Options. This
allows you to choose howthe source
images are aligned, howthe
software reduces ghosting artefacts,
White Balance, colour space and so
on. You can experiment with
different settings here, but the
default settings usually work well.
The Tone-Mapped image
sometimes look great and you
can save it without making changes,
but often it will look rather surreal.
The main control that changes the
appearance of a HDRimage is the
Light Smoothing. Here the lowest
setting has been applied by default,
but well change that.
Shoot a sequence of images with
your DSLRon a tripod, varying
the exposure for each over a range
that captures detail in the darkest
shadows and brightest highlights. In
this case -2stops, -1 stop, metered
and +1 stop did the job. In more
contrasty conditions, you may need
to shoot from-2to +2or +3 stops.
Click Process and all the changes
youve made are applied. Save
the HDRimage as a 16-bit TIFF fle
then make any fnal adjustments to it
in Photoshop you can adjust Levels
and Curves selectively or to the
whole image, tweak colour saturation
and so on until youve got just the
effect you were looking for.
After a minute or so an image
appears on your monitor.
Usually it looks dreadful but dont
worry about it as this isnt a true
HDRimage youve a little way to
go yet. To get a better idea of what
youve got to work with, hit the Tone
Mapping button in the Workfow
Shortcuts windows.
Althoughyoureadvisedtoshoot asequenceof Raw
fles at different exposures tocreateaHDRimage,
youcanproducepseudo-HDReffects by processing
oneRawflethreeor fvetimes andchangingthe
exposurefor each. For example, opentheRawflein
ACR, set the Exposureslideto-2thenclick Save, set
theExposureslideto-1 andclick Saveagain. Repeat
this withtheExposureslider set to0, +1 and+2and
youll haveaset of fvebracketed images that are
ready for Photomatix. Dependingonyour subject
matter, youmay fndthat this approachis preferable.
It works brilliantly onportraits andother non-static
subjects whereit wouldbealmost impossibleto
shoot asequenceof individual images without the
subject movingslightly betweenframes.
Youcansee howeffective the
HDRtechnique is. The scene
was highincontrast soa single
exposure failedtocapture its
drama. However, by combining
four separate exposures using
Photomatix Pro, the detail and
colour has beenbrought out.
WITHLUKE MARSHSetting your DSLR to shoot in Raw means youre able to recover
hidden detail from areas of the scene that are overexposed, such as bright sky. Photoshop
expert Luke Marsh shows how to use the Photoshop Elements Raw converter to create
two different images at different exposure levels exposures from the same Raw le and
then recombine them for the perfect result. Techniques used in this easy-to-follow step-
by-step tutorial include exposure adjustment, layer creation and editing, level adjustment, sharpness
control using the High Pass lter, opacity effects and colour adjustment. This technique is especially
satisfying as you are only working with image data captured in the original single exposure.
Elements 4.0 was used here, but more recent versions are suitable too.
I nowhave two les open. One contains the original exposure and
the other is the newunderexposed image. With the underexposed
le active, I go Select>All then Edit>Copy placing the image into the
pasteboard memory. NowI can close this le and use Edit>Paste to
place this image into a newlayer on the original le.
With the two exposures in place I want to combine the
correctly-exposed foreground with the newly-exposed sky. With the
sky layer active and using the Rectangular Marquee I select a large area of
foreground, just short of the horizon, and use Edit>Delete to remove the
area noting the effect in the layer palette preview(inset).
Nowits time to tidy up the horizon, so with the Eraser tool set to a
medium-sized, soft-edged brush at an Opacity of 55%, I gradually
erase areas of the newly-exposed layer, revealing the original horizon
exposure. The slight feathering effect between the two layers creates a
misty effect which further enhances the images mood.
The initial layer work is complete, so to save my work so far, I go
Layer>Flatten Image then File>Save As to create a newle. With
both layers merged, its time for some overall enhancement, so I go
Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels to lighten up the image and improve
the denition. I click OKto apply the changes.
56 Raw TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
If youve never used the Elements Rawconverter before, the rst
thing youll notice on opening les is the image opens in the Raw
control window(above). For the rst step, I simply click Open, leaving
the settings as they are, then go File>Save As and create a Photoshop
le (.psd) as we are going to be working with layers.
I reopen the original Rawle, and again the Rawcontrol window
appears with the image. This time, I use the Exposure control
(circled) and move the slider left, to underexpose the image, pulling
back the detail fromthe sky area hidden on the original image. Happy
with the results, I click Open to take the image into Elements.
The image is predominately blue in hue and Id quite like to inject a
different tone to the sky area. Using the Rectangular Marquee tool,
I select the area above the horizon and Select>Feather, entering an
amount of 50pixels to soften the selection, then I go Edit>Copy then
Edit>Paste, placing the selection into a newlayer.
Change the Blend Mode of the newlayer to Soft Light, and then
go to Enhance>Adjust Colour>Adjust Hue/Saturation. In the
window, I start by clicking the Colorize box and immediately see the
effect in the preview. Finally, I adjust the Hue and Saturation sliders
until I amhappy with the colour, and click OK.
The High Pass lter is a far more forgiving way to enhance detail
than sharpening. To use it, I rst go to Layer>Duplicate Layer to
preserve the original image. Then I go to Filter>Other>High Pass,
adjusting the Radius to around 20pixels before clicking OK. I change
the Blend Mode in the layer palette to Soft Light.
Use Layer>Flatten Image again, saving a copy if required. Now, using
the Burn tool (inset right) with a large soft-edged brush and the
Opacity at approximately 25%, I darken the exposure of specic areas,
which helps to improve the depth of the image. I focus on the edges of the
frame and build the effect up gradually.
Its clear to see the benets of
shooting your images in Raw,
as its possible to rescue more
detail than if youd captured
the scene as a JPEG.
Filters:TheBasics 59
These attach via the flter thread on
the front of most lenses. They offer
the advantage of using high quality
optical glass, while their small size
means theyre easy to store and carry
around in their protective cases. The
disadvantage is that each only ft one
diameter of lens, so if your lenses
require different flter thread sizes,
youll need extra flters. Using more
than one flter together risks vignetting
(dark corners on your images).
If you plan to use a number of flters
or own several lenses, a slot-in system
is more cost-effective. You only need
to buy one of each flter type, which is
inserted into a holder attached to the
lens via an appropriately sized ring.
You need a ring for each lens but swap
the holder between them. Most slot-in
flters are made from a tough resin,
which is of high optical quality, but
you need to take more care than with
glass flters to avoid scratches.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
THE HUMBLE FILTER OFFERS offers arguably more creative
possibilities for making the most of your digital SLR than any other
accessory. Were all aware that digital SLRs are a great way of
capturing wonderful images, but some photographers are still
oblivious to how flters can dramatically improve their results.
Take a look at the work of established photographers and youll see
most regularly use flters like polarisers or ND Graduates to capture
the best possible results. There is a reason why dedicated landscape
photographers spent time and money using flters: they give better
results. This section looks at the main flter formats, which types of
flters youll fnd most useful and explains how you should use them.
With image manipulation software such as Adobe Photoshop available,
the question of whether or not you need flters any more is a fair one
to ask. Our answer is simple: Yes. Read on to fnd out why.
If you only ever buy one lter, buy a polariser. By simply rotating it in
its mount, you can bring your images to life. A polariser is designed to
eliminate glare, minimise reections and enhance saturation.
Polarising lters are best known for their ability to darken blue skies.
However, they are equally useful for reducing reections on non-metallic
surfaces (in particular water) and the glare from foliage.
Not only does an enriched, blue sky look appealing as part of a
landscape photograph, but a polarised sky can also create an attractive
backdrop. Try shooting buildings, people, trees or owers contrasted
against a polarised sky the results will be bursting with impact.
To understand how polarisers work, its necessary to get a little technical.
Basically, light is transmitted in wavelengths. Light travels in straight lines,
vibrating as waves in all directions and at all angles.
When light strikes a surface, a portion of the wavelengths are reected
while others are absorbed. It is the absorbed wavelengths of light that
dene the colour of the surface its striking. For example, a red-coloured
object will reect red wavelengths of light whilst absorbing others.
Polarised light is different. It occurs due to the reection or scattering of
light waves and only travels in one direction. It is these wavelengths that
create glare and reection, reducing colour intensity. A polarising lter is
designed to block polarised light, thus restoring contrast and saturation.
Polarisers are made from a thin sheet of polarising material, sandwiched
between two circular pieces of glass and screwed onto the front of your
lens. The front part of the mount can be rotated, affecting the angle of
polarisation. As a result, the amount of polarised light passing through
the lens can be altered to control the amount of polarisation. Looking
through the viewnder while rotating the lter (or using the LCD monitor
with Live View), reections will come and go and the intensity of colour will
strengthen and fade again. Simply stop rotating the lter when you feel the
effect is at its best for the scene or subject.
One last thing. A polariser has a two-stop lter factor and, while your
cameras automatic metering will allow for this, its worth bearing in mind
how this will affect the range of shutter speeds and apertures you have
available. Its worth ensuring you mount your DSLR on a tripod whenever
you use a polariser to ensure you avoid the risk of camera shake.
Reections can either be good or bad. For
example, rolling hills or snowy mountain
peaks will be enhanced if theyre mirrored
in the still, reective surface of water.
But the light and glare reecting from
shiny non-metallic surfaces or glass, in a
cityscape or on a skyscraper, can be ugly
and distracting. A polariser can be used to
either emphasise reections by reducing
surface glare or eliminate them.
However, the strength of the effect will
depend on the camera angle in relation
to the reective surface. The maximum
effect is at an angle of 30-45.
Nopolariser Withpolariser
60 Filters
There are two types of polarising lter onthe market Linear and
Circular. Only the Circular type will work properly withyour digital
SLR. Althoughbothvarieties are physically circular andsimilar in
appearance, the Linear variety will affect the accuracy of your
cameras metering system. This is because digital SLRs polarise
some light inside the camera. If this light has already been
polarisedby a Linear polariser, a false meter reading is given.
Circular polarisers are constructedwitha wave-retardationplate,
allowing the light waves passing throughto rotate andappear
unpolarisedto the cameras metering system. Buy Circular.
UNEVENPOLARISATIONNatural light polarisationis
unevenacross the sky; its maximumeffect is whenfacing
90 to the sunandits minimumis at 180. So whentaking
pictures at certainangles, youmay ndthat the colour of
the sky darkens more noticeably inone area this region
of the sky contains more polarisedwavelengths. This
effect canlook oddandis best avoided. Ultra wide-angle
focal lengths (10-14mm) are most prone to this problem.
To try andside-stepthis problem, use a lens witha long
focal lengthlens or adjust your shooting angle. However,
if this just isnt practical, youcouldtry positioning a
Neutral Density graduate lter at anangle so that it lters
the lighter regionof the sky. Althoughthis isnt a faultless
solution, anNDgradcangreatly reduce the effect.
beappealing, but it is possibletooverdotheeffect. Insome
situations, apolariser isnt neededat all or onlypartial
polarisationis requiredtoproducethebest-lookingresult.
If theeffect is toogreat, theskycanappear almost blackin
colour. This will lookunnatural anddegradetheaesthetics
of theimage. Souseimageplaybacktochecktheeffect
andadjust therotationof thelter accordingly.
You can see increased saturation
and the greater contrast levels
created by the polariser. This is one
of the reasons why its a must-have
for landscape photographers.
62 Filters
Grads are half-coated, half-clear, with a
transitional zone where the two halves merge.
There are two distinct types of grad: Neutral
Density (ND) and colour grads. ND graduated
lters are designed to darken bright skies
and lower contrast levels, whilst the coloured
variety are intended to add a splash of colour to
otherwise dull, nondescript skies.
ND grads work by absorbing all the colours in
the visible spectrum in equal amounts, with no
colour cast. This is necessary as the contrast in
light between sky and land is often greater than
the dynamic range of the sensor making it
impossible to capture a correctly-exposed scene.
They are available individually or in a set of
different strengths to suit different conditions.
Their strength, or density, is indicated on the
lter: 0.3 equals a one-stop exposure reduction,
0.6 a two-stop and 0.9 equates to three stops.
ND grads are also available in both hard- and
soft-edged transitions.
Soft NDs are designed with a feathered edge,
providing a gentle change from the coated
portion of the lter to the clear area, whilst a
hard ND grad has a more sudden transition.
Both types are useful; soft grads are better
suited to shooting landscapes with broken
horizons as they dont noticeably darken objects
like buildings or trees. Hard grads are designed
so the full strength of their specied density is
spread over a greater proportion of the coated
area, allowing you to reduce the brightness of
the sky with greater accuracy.
Whilst colour grads are not as useful on a day-
to-day basis, they shouldnt be overlooked. To
an extent, they also lower contrast, but instead
of having the practical role of an ND grad, colour
grads are designed for creative effect. There are
a wide variety of different colours available, from
subtle looking shades of blue, coral and orange,
to the articial look of red, pink and tobacco.
Some, such as the wholly-coloured sunset
lter, lack a clear area. Instead the whole lter
graduates from a strong to weak colour tint.
Colour grads may not be for the purists, but
combined with a suitable scene, they can help
produce eye-catching results. However, a quick
word of warning. They should be used with care
and in moderation. Only employ a colour grad
when its effect genuinely enhances the image
you are about to capture if you have any
doubts, take an unltered shot as well. You also
need to ensure accurate placement; if you push
the lter too far down in the holder, the coated
area of the grad will stray over the foreground,
ruining the realism of the result.
When using graduated lters, a slot-in lter holder like the Cokin
Psystem is virtually essential. Whilst circular, screw-in type
graduated lters are available, they are hugely restrictive. This is
because, unlike a slot-in lter, the position of the graduation zone
cannot be adjusted up or down to suit your composition, greatly
limiting your creative possibilities. Another advantage of using a
holder is that, if the scene you are photographing has a sloping
horizon, it is possible to adjust the orientation of the holder to
match. This will avoid the graduated area of the lter overlapping
your foreground, which will either articially darken or colour part
of your scene. You may also wish to position a grad at an angle to
help alleviate uneven polarisation. However, by angling the holder,
there is an enhanced risk of vignetting (darkening at the corners of
the image) with wide-angle lenses. Therefore, check images
through both your viewnder and via your LCDmonitor.
Neutral Density lters work using a
similar principle to a graduatedND.
However, unlike a grad, the entire
lter is coated.
They are designedto limit the
amount of light passing through
the lens. Therefore, if after adding the lter the
shutter speedis kept the same, a larger
aperture must be selectedto obtainthe
correct exposure. Youcanuse this to reduce
depth-of-eldandcontrol howmuchof a
scene is out of focus.
Alternatively, if the f/stopis maintained,
a slower shutter speedmust be selectedto
achieve the right exposure. This canhelpto
blur moving water during longer exposures.
NDlters are available as bothslot-inand
screw-intypes andalso inprogressive
strengths (densities). Whilst they canbe
employedto compensate for too muchlight
insituations where youdlike to increase the
aperture more thanthe light or camera
capabilities permit anNDlter is more
commonly usedby landscape photographers
to emphasise movement, especially water.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The sky in a scene such as this
will be several stops brighter
than the shaded rocks in the
foreground. An NDgrad lter
means detail in both is captured.
To capture the full effect of the grad,
wed recommend you take and lock the
exposure reading before slipping the
lter into place, rather than metering
with the lter already in position
Using the hard grad flter has resulted in a much more even exposure,
but there is a problem. The top half of the lighthouse, where the flter has
cut into it, is a bit too dark. The effect is fairly subtle, but it's defnitely there,
and doesn't look natural. Fortunately, this common problemcan be easily
sorted out with a spot of post-processing work.
With a four-stop difference between the rocks and the sky, I chose a
three-stop NDgrad flter, as it would leave the sky a little bit lighter than
the foreground. The next choice was to use a soft or hard grad (see panel).
Soft grads aren't always the best choice for seascapes, as the brightest part
of the scene is often across the horizon line, so I decided on a hard grad.
Arriving at Portland in Dorset just before dawn, I took a spot meter
reading fromthe foreground rocks and the sky, which revealed a
difference in brightness of around four stops. Although this falls within the
dynamic range of the sensor, shadowdetail has been compromised a little,
and lifting this in post-processing could reveal noise in the image.
64 Filters
WIThmArkbAUerOne of the main technical challenges in
landscape photography is controlling the contrast in a scene
so that you can accurately record detail in both the land and
the sky. Often the sky is a lot brighter than the land, and the
contrast in the scene is beyond what the cameras sensor
can record, resulting in either a well-exposed sky and underexposed
foreground, or the opposite. The usual way around this is to use a Neutral
Density (ND) graduated flter. These flters are brilliantly simple they are
dark at the top and clear at the bottom and all you do is position the dark
half over the brighter area of the picture, reducing the contrast between
the light and dark areas and therefore enabling you to capture detail in
both the foreground and the sky. The only problem is that the dividing
line between the dark and light areas of an ND grad is a straight line, and
not all landscapes have a straight horizon often the horizon is broken
by an object such as a tree, a hill or a building, and the flter can cause an
unnatural-looking darkening of the top of these objects. However, help is
at hand as, most of the time, post-processing will rescue the shot. Here I
explain how to use an ND Grad and remove its effect from specifc areas.
AnNDgraduatedarkensskiesfor amorebalancedimage
but post-processingcanbenecessaryincertainscenes
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
There are various ways of lightening or darkening images, such as
Curves and Levels, but for this selection I decided to use the Dodge Tool,
as I could paint the effect on gradually and build it up in the areas that
needed it more. I set the Exposure value to 10%, which enabled me to work
gradually on lightening the selection.
Using the Magnetic Lasso Tool in Photoshop, I selected the darker top
half of the lighthouse, so that I could work on the problemarea without
affecting any other part of the image. I decided not to apply any feathering to
the selection, as this could leave a 'halo' around the lighthouse once I'd
nished lightening the selection.
Finalimage g
This is the nal result, which
exhibits good detail and colour in
both the sky and foreground, and
a natural-looking lighthouse with
no darker section at the top.
Filters 65
Neutral density graduated
lters come intwo varieties:
hardandsoft. Hardgrads
have a very obvious and
dark to clear areas, whereas
soft grads have a much
more gradual transition.
Hardgrads are more useful
insituations where the
horizonline is fairly straight
anddoesnt have any large
objects breaking it. Soft
grads onthe other handare
a better optionwhenyou
have anunevenhorizon.
Also, opt for a hardgradif
youintendto shoot a scene
witha straight horizonat
sunset or sunrise, as the
horizonline will be the
brightest part of the scene,
andsoft grads wont hold
back enoughlight.
So what do youdo when
youre shooting a scene at
sunrise/sunset, whichhas a
large object suchas a tree
or building breaking the
horizon? Heres my way
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
WITH LUKE MARSH Using Photoshop to recreate the effect of a graduate lter
allows a variety of effects to be created in minutes. Photoshop expert Luke Marsh
explains how to create a stunning graduated effect using adjustment layers, so the
effects can be repeated and adjusted until the combination of layers and original
image is perfect. In this easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial, Luke introduces you to
Adjustment Layers, Gradient Fill, Gradient Editor, Color Picker, Blending Mode and Photo Filter
for mood. Photoshop isnt an alternative to optical lters, its a complementary skill. Use it to
produce images that are not possible on location or when you forgot your grad. Photoshop
Elements 4.0 was used here, but more recent versions are suitable too.
The sliders at the bottomof the gradient control colour, the left
representing black. Click the black slider and note that the colour
nowappears in the eld below, clicking here opens the Color Picker
sub-window. Use the vertical spectrum(centre) and the main window
(left) to select the desired colour then click OK.
Click OKin the subsequent windows to apply the gradient, then
choose Multiply fromthe Blending Mode menu situated to the top
of the layer palette (inset) to create a more natural merging of the
gradient to the original image. This Adjustment Layer Gradient can be
tweaked at any time by selecting it in the Layers palette.
Its quite often necessary to create more than one gradient layer to
build up the lter effect. Here, I duplicate steps 1 and 2 creating a
gradient that is black to transparent, then, choosing Soft Light in the
Blending Mode menu and reducing the layer Opacity (inset) creating a
natural darkening effect that can easily be adjusted.
The nal gradient layer is going to add a subtle fall-off to the rocks
leading out of the image to the bottomof the frame. Again, I repeat
steps 1 and 2, this time leaving the Reverse box unticked so the
gradient runs frombottomto top. Once again, I set the Blending Mode
to Soft Light and reduced the Opacity.
66 Filters:Photoshopskills TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The aimis to create a similar effect to a conventional grad lter, but
using a series of digital graduated layers instead. I create my rst
gradient by clicking the Create Adjustment Layer icon ( ), situated at
the top of the layers palette, and scrolling to Gradient which opens the
Gradient Fill window.
In the Gradient Fill window, tick Reverse so the gradient runs top to
bottom, then click anywhere within the Gradient eld (situated top)
to open the Gradient Editor sub-window. The sliders at the top of the
visible gradient control opacity, and moving the White slider will
increase the transparent ratio of the gradient.
After a fewminutes
in Photoshop, Ive
managed to give the
plain sky extra interest.
Photoshop Elements and CS have mood flters that can be used to change the overall
tone of your image, much like using a coloured gel or flter on your digital SLR. This
handy action, found in the top menu under Filter>Adjustments>PhotoFilter, has several
preset flters including Warming, Cooling and Sepia or you can choose to manually flter
through the Color Picker. The intensity of the selected tone can then be adjusted with the
Density slider to allowfor some very subtle effects, giving far greater control than that of
an optical lens flters. When youve fnished adding a grad effect to an image, its well worth
the time trying some of these out to see if the image can be improved upon further.
AbovE: Choose froma range of preset flters available in the
Photo Filter function or use the Color Picker to customise.
RIghT: FINALCoLoURSELECTIoNAlthough happy with the
results of my grad flter effect, I found the image could be
improved upon further with the use of the Photo Filter
action. After a little experimenting, I began to favour the use
of the Deep blue preset flter at about 60%Density, making
the overall mood of the image slightly cooler, which I think
works better with the subject matter.
Violet Emerald
70 Waterinlandscapes TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Essential gear
The shutter speedyou use to capture water will
dependon a number of factors: if its moving,
howquickly its moving, howmuch of it there
is andwhether you want to stopit deador let
it blur. For big waterfalls andbreaking waves,
a shutter speedof 1/1000-1/2000sec will
guarantee you freeze every droplet. For fast-
fowing rivers andsmaller waterfalls like the
one here, try 1/2001/500sec, while for slower
rivers andstreams 1/1251/250sec should
do the trick. When it comes to blurring, one
secondwill have a goodeffect on big waterfalls
or try twoseconds for smaller waterfalls. Rivers
andstreams needa slower speedof two to four
seconds, though you can go much slower
10-20seconds if you like. Overexposure can
be a problemwhen large volumes of water are
concentratedin certain areas, so keepandeye
on the histogramanduse a slower speedif you
start to clipthe highlights. For coastal scenes,
one to two seconds will blur waves, while
20-30seconds will produce a milky effect.
Werenotsureif youve ever noticed, but
the majority of stunning landscape images
usually has some formof water inthe scene.
Whether its as subtle as a small river trickling
through, or as obvious as a dominating sea ina
coastal seascape, water represents a key
element inmany landscape images.
one of the mainreasons for this is because
water is sucha photographically pliable
element. By using flters and/or manipulating
the shutter speed, its possible to recordwater
inall manner of ways, fromfreezing its
movement so droplets are suspendedin
mid-air, to using a long exposure to transformit
into anethereal mist. While potentially causing
problems withour exposure, the refective
nature of water also plays its part inimproving
images too. ondays where there is little or no
wind, by heading to a lake, reservoir or any
other large body of water, its possible to
produce a striking result by capturing a clean
refectionof the scene onits surface. the
possibilities dont stopthere rivers canbe
usedas strong lead-inlines throughthe scene
or, along withthe likes of secludedrockpools
andmeandering streams litteredwithrocks,
canformhighly effective foregroundinterest.
the list is endless, but inthis section, we
provide the essentials youneedto start going
out to shoot water inlandscapes andreturning
withbrilliant results. What are youwaiting for,
keeponreading andget exploring!
ultra-wide zoomlike a
12-24mmor similar is
ideal as it will allowyou
to fll the foreground
with water anddeliver
plenty of depth-of-feld
for scenes that are
sharpthroughout. The Sigma 10-20mm
lens is hugely popular due to its excellent
performance andvalue-for-money price tag.
Filters:If youre serious
about landscape
photography, invest in
a slot-in flter system.
Cokins P-system
(www.intro2020. represent great
value for money while
if quality is paramount, look to Lee Filters
superb100mmsystem the choice of the
pros. ( Apolariser helps
boost blue skies anddeliver clear refections
off the waters surface. A0.6or 0.9NDflter
(not NDgrad!) is also worth considering, as
it will allowyou to use long shutter speeds in
daylight to blur moving water.
Tripod:When shooting
water youll be looking
to use small apertures
to maximise depth-
of-feldandthe slow
shutter speeds require
you to keepthe camera
stable to avoidshake.
Further on in this guide, we recommenda
selection of tripods at various price points.
Spiritlevel:If your
tripodkit has a spirit
level, use it to ensure
horizons are even you
dont want to spend
ages in Photoshop
levelling them.
Otherwise buy a basic
10spirit level to slipinto a hotshoe or treat
yourself to a funky 30Seculine Action
Level (
When youre walking
miles, a photo
backpack is a far better
option for protecting
your kit than a gadget
bag. Those with an
all-weather cover will
offer better protection fromwater andthe
elements. Weve a number of topbackpacks
highlightedlater in this guide.
nothing worse than
slipping into a river
andhaving to spend
the day in wet clothes.
Wear decent footwear
fromreputable brands
such as Berghaus and
consider waterproof trousers or gaiters
frombrands such as Paramo, as they allow
you to stepinto rivers andstay dry.
1/20sec 0.4seconds
Dramatic coastlines aretheperfect placeto
put theoryintopracticewhenit comes to
photographingscenes withwater. Followour
adviceonthegear touse, thetechniques totry
andthesettings tomakeandyoull soonbe
takinglandscapeimages likeapro.
72 Waterinlandscapes
You wont have to travel far to fnd water. In hilly regions, waterfalls are relatively
common, whilst rivers and streams meander through our countryside. In towns and
cities, waterways and canals are a common sight and large bodies of water,
like lakes, lochs and reservoirs, are dotted around all over the country.
In the UK, you are never that far from the coast and the sea provides
photographers with a huge number of opportunities. It creates the perfect backdrop
to sandy or rocky bays and rugged cliffs. Whilst the sea is photogenic
on calm days, it is at its most dramatic in rough, stormy weather when large,
crashing waves bring energy and movement to coastal landscapes. A river,
winding its way through your composition, will guide the eye through the image
effectively increasing the photos depth and interest. Streams and rivers are
perfect subjects to create an S-curve or lead-in line. Small puddles can also help
composition, creating ideal foreground interest. For example, the shallow pools
exposed at low-tide are very photogenic. They will help to add a three-dimensional
feel to your pictures if you attach a wide-angle lens and photograph them from
nearby to emphasise their curves and refections.
Water works well when photographed as the main subject. A wide-angle lens,
such as an 11-22mm, together with a low viewpoint close to the surface of a river,
will create the impression that the water is practically fowing into the camera
but only do this if its completely safe. To ensure maximum sharpness, ensure
suffcient depth-of-feld by choosing a small aperture, such as f/13-16, and focus
one-third of the way into the scene, using the LCD monitor to check the result.
On calm, still days the surface of any body of water will act like a mirror, perfectly
refecting its surroundings and the sky above. Refections are a favourite subject
among landscape photographers, particularly on large bodies of water when strong
colours are also evident during sunrise or sunset, for instance.
Rocks jutting out of the water, tall reeds, a jetty or rowing boats are among the
objects that work well as part of a refected landscape, adding scale and context to
the image. The rule-of-thirds states that landscape photographers shouldnt place
the horizon centrally in the frame. However, when photographing refections of a
reservoir or loch, a centred horizon will often create a symmetrical result and actually
strengthen composition.
Be careful if you are using a polarising flter to saturate colour and deepen blue
skies. A polariser can also reduce the intensity of refections although to what
degree will depend on the camera angle in relation to the refected surface. In some
situations, you may have to decide what is of higher priority a deep blue sky and
saturated colours, but poor refections; or strong, vivid refections, but sky and
colours that are weaker. A polariser can actually intensify refections by removing
the sheen from the waters surface. Therefore, continue using a polariser, just
carefully regulate its effect on the refections within the scene, by peering through
the cameras viewfnder as you rotate the flter in its mount.
If there are distracting ripples on the water, consider using a solid ND flter to
lengthen exposure time. A shutter speed exceeding a second will help to eliminate
gentle ripples and help maximise the strength of the refections.
By leaving the
shutter open for a
long exposure,
moving water
becomes a mist
that is spread
across the scene at
the average height
of the waves and
ripples. Flowing
bubbles (right)
formstreaks that
followthe stream.
the longer the
exposure, the
less defned the
waves become.
these two images
featuring refections in
water showhow
applying the
rule-of-thirds (left)
and ignoring it (right)
both have their place.
As the shot of the
mountain lake
demonstrates, running
the far shoreline
across the middle of
the frame creates a
powerful symmetry.
Dont be tempted to
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
Waterinlandscapes 73
Sometimes you might
have to reduce the
amount of light coming
into the lens to force
down shutter speeds
and create the blur.
Neutral Density (ND)
flters will do the trick.
Polarising flters also
reduce the light level by
two stops, facilitating
slowshutter speeds, but
watch out for the effect
on refections.
these two histograms showthe
difference between an overexposed
scene and one that has been exposed
correctly. the top diagram, showing all
the peaks to the far right of the
horizontal scale and crashing the top of
the vertical scale, indicates clipping or
overexposure. the highlights have
exceeded the ability of the sensor to
retain image information and this data
is lost forever. Post-processing in
Photoshop will not be able to get it
back. look for a more even spread of
peaks in the histogram, without
clipping, as shown in the bottomimage.
Moving water has a tendency to appear white.
As a result, accurate exposure is essential
overexposure will lead to white water being burnt
out and devoid of detail. Even if you shoot in Raw,
such detail cannot be retrieved during post-
processing, which is why it is important to achieve
the correct exposure at the time of capture.
Your cameras multi-zone meter can normally be
relied upon to achieve the right exposure. However,
dont rely on the replayed image on your DSLRs
LCD monitor to assess exposure. Instead, view
the images histogram. The graph represents the
distribution of tones within the scene. Far left (0)
represents pure black; far right (255) pure white;
whilst the middle area covers mid-tones. If water is
overexposed, this will be indicated by sharp peaks
to the far right of the graph.
Most DSLRs also have a highlights screen. This
alert causes groups of pixels that have exceeded
the sensors dynamic range to fash as a warning. If
water within your landscape is overexposed, apply
negative exposure compensation.
Problems occur in very bright daylight
particularly around midday. Brightly lit, frothy
white water can prove very intense and there is no
simple way to achieve an overall correct exposure
in-camera. This is why the softer, less intense light
of early morning and evening is better suited to
shooting water.
The quality of light on overcast days is also
excellent for photographing water, particularly if
using a long exposure to blur its movement. So, if
it is a dull day, dont stay indoors thinking you cant
shoot landscapes, head to your nearest river or
coast instead and start shooting!
How best to capture waters motion is a
contentious issue. Some photographers like to
capture water authentically, freezing its movement
using a fast shutter speed. Others prefer to
intentionally blur it, in order to create the feeling
of motion. Both techniques work well in the right
situation. However, it is important to do one or the
other somewhere in between, when the water
is neither blurred or sharp, will usually just look
messy and unintentional.
If you wish to suspend water movement, you
will normally need to employ a shutter speed of
1/500sec or faster although the exact speed
required will depend on the speed of the water.
Landscape photographers normally use a small
aperture (large f/number) to achieve a depth-of-
feld big enough to render both foreground and
background detail in sharp focus. As a result, they
are often working with relatively slow exposures,
especially when light levels are low.
This is one reason why many photographers
go to the other extreme, employing a lengthy
exposure to blur the waters fow. To many eyes,
this blurred effect, creates more pleasing results
adding life and movement to images.
An exposure of second should do the job,
but a speed of several seconds is preferable this
is guaranteed to create an attractive silky, white
blur. In order to generate a long exposure, employ
the lenss minimum aperture (typically f/22) and
ensure that the cameras lowest ISO setting is
selected. If the resulting shutter speed still isnt
suffciently slow, you will need the help of fltration.
Neutral density (ND) flters are designed to
block light entering the camera basically, they
alter the lights brightness, but not its colour. They
allow photographers to employ artifcially long
exposures in order to blur subject movement. They
are available in different strengths commonly 1-,
2- and 3-stop densities and as both screw- and
slot-in types. A two-stop version will normally
be suffcient. Your cameras TTL metering will
automatically adjust for the density.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
74 Waterinlandscapes TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
ONSTILL, CALMDAYS, a large body of water,
suchas a lake or loch, will provide mirror-like
reections, allowing photographers to capture
boththe landscape andits upside down
reectioninwide-angle views. This type of
symmetry is a powerful compositionaid, and
one of the fewoccasions whenplacing the
horizoncentrally opposedto ona dividing
third, as per the rule-of-thirds canactually
Regardless of whether youare
photographing a lake, loch, river, stream, canal,
or puddle as part of the landscape, the
traditional rules of compositionremain. Try to
place key elements, suchas a cascading
waterfall, breaking waves or water crashing on
rocks, ona dividing thirdto create the most
interesting andcompelling composition.
Scenic photographers, however, most
commonly use water as a formof lead-inline
that directs the viewers eye into the image and
throughthe scene. Rivers, streams andcanals
are particularly well suitedto this approach.
Regardless of whether the body of water is
straight or twisting andturning throughthe
landscape, the effect is the same. By including
the water so that it leads fromthe bottomof the
image into the frame, it provides a natural
entry point to the photograph. The viewers
eye will thenfollowthe waters journey through
the landscape, creating a strong composition.
Ariver or stream, owing throughthe shot,
also creates great depth, life andcanprovide
the impressionof motion. Oftena slightly
elevatedviewpoint suits this approachwell: if
youget too lowandclose to the water, youwill
normally beginto lose the waters shape and
effect. Shooting froma footbridge above the
water will allowyouto shoot directly downits
length. This canlook very striking, withthe
water disappearing inthe distance andcreating
a vanishing point.
Diagonal lines canalso make for strong
compositional tools, so try placing a streamor
a canal so it cuts fromone corner of the frame
to the other. Lens focal lengthwill also have a
great bearing onhowwater is recordedinyour
scene. Wide-angles, inthe regionof 14-24mm,
will stretchperspective making foreground
objects appear larger andmore prominent and
distant ones look further away. This canwork
well if youwant to place extra emphasis ona
specic point, maybe water cascading over an
smoothboulder inthe images immediate
foreground. Alternatively, attacha longer focal
length, upwards of 55mm, to condense
perspective, as this canprove useful if youwant
to photographa river winding its way througha
valley fromthe hills above.
Without a doubt, water will give your
landscape images addeddepthandinterest
andcangreatly enhance your compositions.
Step1I try shooting in landscape
format, which enhances the shape of
the river. However, Imleft with the
choice of either including quite a lot of
bland sky, or chopping the tops off the
trees, neither of which is entirely
satisfactory. Time for a rethink.
Step2As the sun starts to rise
in the sky, it brings with it a touch
of colour, and some layering and
texture to the clouds, so I
change my focal length to
around 45mmto include the sky and
also make the most of the interesting
bends in the stream.
Step3As the colour strengthens in
the sky, I decide to switch to portrait
format, which allows me to make more
of the sky and also include more water
in the foreground. These adjustments
make the most of the streamas a
lead-in line.
Evenwithout changingposition, inariver scene, its
surprisinghowmanydifferent compositions youcan
ndjust bychangingfocal length.
on the water can fool your cameras meter into
underexposure, so check your histogramandbe
preparedto addexposure compensation. Bright,
reective highlights will always blowunless you
underexpose the shot severely, so ignore them
andexpose for the rest of the scene.
3) FILTRATIONUsing the right lters can really
improve river shots. Polarisers will helpreduce
glare off the water, andsolidNDlters allowyou
to use slower shutter speeds to capture a sense
of motion. You can use this as a compositional aid
by, for example, having streaks of water moving
into the frame to leadthe eye into the picture.
partial cloudat the beginning or endof the day,
theres a chance there will be some colour in the
sky, which will be reectedin the water, adding
impact to the scene.
Not onlycanwater addvisual interest or moodtoyour landscape
images, but it canalsoproveaveryuseful compositional tool
I headedto the NewForest near
Rhineeldone morning to try and
catchthe early light reecting ina
streamas it meanders throughthe
landscape. Uponarrival, I soon
realise the potential for basing a
compositionaroundthe streamas
it curves gently throughthe elds.
The landscape is quite at, so I
shoot froma bridge, as the elevated
positionwill helpto reveal the
planes inthe landscape.
Dont forget to turn your camera vertically. An
upright composition can help emphasise height
or length, so is particularly well suited to shots
taken down the length of a long river or canal to
help emphasise the impression of distance
Landscapesinportrait! pesinpo
Lookfor rivers instrongsettings.
Therocks scatteredthroughthe
water andthemanymini-waterfalls
all addtotheforegroundinterest.
Wearingwaterproof clothingand
usingadurabletripodallows youto
set-upinthemiddleof ashallow
river toboost thecomposition.
76 Waterinlandscapes TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
One more attempt, with the light levels a bit lower, I get the shot I want at
around 0.6of a second. Theres enough movement to create a sense of
drama but the waves still keeps their shape.
Opening up the aperture to f/11, and swapping the four-stop NDfor a
two-stop enables me to shorten the exposure time to 0.3 seconds. The
result is almost what I wanted, but the wave is frozen just a little too much.
Theres a lot of debate about howbest to
photographwave movement. Long exposures
result ina misty look that is popular withmany
photographers(see over the page) but is
certainly not to everyones taste as its not
authentic. Whenwe watchwaves rolling onto
the shore, we see the whole movement we
dont see a moment frozenintime or mist
drifting over rocks. One way to truly appreciate
wave motionas the eye sees it is to use video
rather thana stills camera, but by paying
careful attentiontoshutter speeds, it is possible
to recordnatural-looking waves onyour DSLR.
The trick is to recordthe right amount of
movement; if the shutter is opentoo long there
will be too muchmotionblur, not long enough
andthe wave will appear too static. Youneedto
fnda middle groundwhere theres misty blur
but the waves still keeptheir shape.
There is no simple recipe for this; the best
shutter speeddepends onthe size andspeed
of the waves, howtheyre falling onto the shore,
andalso personal taste. Experimentationis the
key be preparedto shoot a lot of frames and
spenda lot of time looking at the reviewscreen
andtweaking the camera controls.
Although theres no ideal shutter speed for
capturing a breaking wave, as it depends on
the conditions at the time, a shutter speed of
between second and a couple of seconds
usually provides the result youll want.
Its not just a matter, however, of putting the
camera into shutter-priority mode and setting
the shutter speed. You will also need make sure
youre using the right aperture in order to achieve
the appropriate depth-of-feld and an accurate
exposure. For landscapes this is usually between
f/8and f/22 for maximumdepth-of-feld.
There are other ways you can control the
shutter speed too. Apart fromwaiting for the light
to change, for a faster shutter speed, you should
increase the cameras ISOrating. Normally this
will raise the level of noise, so you do not want
to go much above ISO800unless youre using a
professional DSLRthat handles noise well.
For shutter speeds of more than 30
seconds, you will need to set your camera to
Bulb mode and time the exposure manually.
However this can often result in overexposed
shots, so you may need to add a solid
neutral density flter to reduce the amount of
light falling onto the sensor. NDflters come
in various strengths, the most common being
one, two and three stops and you can use
several together, along with a polarising flter
too, for extremely long exposures.
Professional photographer MarkBauer explainsthebest technique
for capturingthemovement of breakingwavesastheyhit theshore
This time the exposure is still not long enough
to give an ethereal misty look to the water,
but it doesnt capture the drama of the scene by
freezing the water either.
In the hope of lengthening the exposure, I
wait for the light levels to drop and replace
the three-stop NDflter with a four-stop NDflter,
giving me a ten-second exposure at f/22.
Set to shutter-priority mode, I try 1/100sec
but it freezes the movement. For large waves
this might convey drama, but with small waves
like this it completely fails.
As the sky is much brighter than the ground, I
added a three-stop NDsoft grad flter to
balance the contrast. Asoft grad means the
transition line wont be too obvious.
I compose the shot so that the waves are
falling onto the foreground rocks and then
check the exposure for the sky and ground
separately using my DSLRs spot meter.
78 Waterinlandscapes TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Blurry water youeither
love it or loathit. I love it.
To render moving
water milky, the right
exposure time is
essential; too fast and
the water canlook
messy. Agoodrule of
thumbis to select a
shutter speedof around
one secondor longer.
This shouldcreate an
attractive level of blur. Evenlengthier exposures
will create more atmospheric, surreal results.
Inorder to generate the longest exposure
time for the available light, select your DSLRs
lowest ISOtogether withthe lenss smallest
aperture (eg f/22or f/32). Inlowlight,
achieving a lengthy exposure is relatively easy,
withexposure times naturally longer. However,
whenthe light is good, it is not oftenpossible to
select a shutter speedsufciently slowwithout
overexposing the image. The solutionis to use
a Neutral Density (ND) lter. The stronger the
density of the NDlter, the more light it
absorbs, the longer the exposure andthe
greater the level of blur. For extreme effects,
Lee Filters Big Stopper (ten-stops) can
generate exposure times of several minutes,
requiring the use of your cameras Bulbsetting
anda remote release. Whenshooting waters
movement using long exposures, every image
will be different. Sometimes the difference will
be great; sometimes subtle. Take a sequence of
images anddecide later whichone is best.
Regular contributor RossHoddinott demonstrateshowtorender
movingwater asatmospheric, ethereal mist for creativeeffect
To blur the water movement, take control
fromthe camera by selecting either
shutter-priority mode and the slowest shutter
speed available, or aperture-priority mode and
opt for the smallest aperture. Either method sets
the longest exposure obtainable in the given light.
Also, select your cameras lowest ISOrating,
typically ISO100on the majority of DSLRs.
Having selected ISO100and aperture-
priority mode, I set the minimumaperture of
f/22and waited for a large wave to wash around
the foreground rocks. The exposure of 1/8sec at
f/22was longer, but as the water still didnt
render milky, I added a polarising lter to help
lengthen the exposure.
Apolarising lter has a lter factor of two
stops, so can be used as a makeshift NDlter
by extending the exposure ideal if you dont own
a ND. It also helps remove glare, in this case from
the rocks. The result is better, but in this instance,
the exposure of 1/2sec at f/22is still not long
enough for the ethereal result I was after.
For the blur I want, I had to add a Neutral
Density lter. I left the polariser in place and
attached a three-stop NDlter. The cameras TTL
metering automatically adjusts for the lter, but it
also darkens the viewnder so you will need to
compose and lock the focus for the shot before
attaching the lter to your DSLR.
It was evening and the tide was high.
To blur the water as it washed over the rocky
outcrops and pebbly shore, I carefully arranged
my composition, using a tripod to keep my
images shake-free. Firstly, with the camera set to
programmode it automatically set a shutter
speed of 1/80sec at f/8based on the available
light not slowenough to blur water.
Using long exposures to blur water motion
is a technique that relies on a sturdy tripod
otherwise shake will ruin the results. Quite
simply, a tripod is essential not optional
Essential kit
Xxxxxx 000 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
The key to success whenshooting
moving water is to use a shutter
speedthats slowenoughto blur the
water, so it records witha smooth,
milky appearance, but not so slow
that areas where the water is more
concentratedstart to overexpose
andburnout. This is a matter of trial
anderror, but anexposure of one
secondusually makes a goodstarting point. The great thing about digital
capture is that youcancheck eachshot youtake to see howit looks, then
shortenor lengthenthe exposure time until youget the perfect result.
If tiny areas of water burnout, dont worry whenyoudownloadthe
images andviewthemas full-size les, chances are those highlight
warnings will have disappeared. Andif they havent, its a simple jobto
use the Clone Stamptool inPhotoshopto copy andpaste water froma
different part of the image over the overexposedareas.
80 Waterinlandscapes
Because a slowshutter speed will be used to
blur the water movement, always mount your
camera on a sturdy tripod to keep it nice and
steady. Its also a good idea to attach a remote
release so you can trip the shutter without
touching the camera, which risks vibrations that
could lead to your images being ruined by shake.
In dull weather, stopping your lens down to
f/16or f/22and setting a lowISOmay give you
a shutter speed slowenough to blur the water. If
not, use a Neutral Density (ND) lter to increase
the exposure. Apolarising lter can also be used to
increase the exposure by two stops
so 1/4sec becomes one second, for example.
Before taking a shot, check the lens or lter for
water droplets. If youre shooting close to a
waterfall splashes or spray may get on the lens. In
this case, drizzle was the culprit. Wipe the water
away with a clean microbre cloth otherwise
image quality will suffer. Holding an umbrella over
the camera can help in rainy weather.
Take your rst shot and reviewit. I was initially attracted to this spout of
water hitting a rock and cascading in all directions. Shooting side-on
proved to be a good angle and a shutter speed of one second offered enough
blur. The shot worked, but there were many other options to explore.
I decided to try a wider view, using the water spout in the previous step
as foreground interest, carrying the eye up the ravine towards the distant
peaks of the Cuillin Ridge. It took a fewattempts to get the shutter speed just
right so no areas of the moving water were overexposed.
WITHLEE FROST Although it has become something of a
clich, using a slow shutter speed to record moving water as a
graceful, milky blur is an undeniably effective technique, which
is why so many photographers, including myself, like to use
it. From tumbling mountain streams to bubbling brooks and
thundering waterfalls, wherever you nd moving water, the same basic
approach can be used to capture it and turn an ordinary scene into a
creative image thats full of atmosphere. Even better, moving water is
best shot on an overcast day with soft light so there are no blinding
highlights to contend with, caused by sunlight reecting on the water.
This makes it a perfect subject for those dull, grey days photographers
in the UK know so well!
LeeFrost revealshowchoosingthecorrect shutter speed
isessential whenincludingrunningwater inlandscapes
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Waterinlandscapes 81
Heres the end result, shot with an
exposure of 1.3 seconds at f/22
(ISO 50), usivng a 0.9ND flter to
increase the exposure and a 0.6ND
hard graduate to hold detail in the
sky. The dull weather and soft light
worked well, perfectly revealing the
subtle colours in the scene, while
the blurred water captures the feel
of the tumbling mountain stream.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
82 Waterinlandscapes TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Reections make great subjects for landscape
images. Theres something unique about the
symmetry of a perfect reectionina still lake,
but reections canwork equally well ona
smaller scale, inponds, puddles, or rockpools.
They may not always work as the main
subject ina coastal shot, but rockpools make
excellent foregroundinterest inwide-angle
landscapes, withreections creating extra
depthina shot andadding brightness and
colour, whichcanbreak updark foregrounds.
Youll ndrockpools at any rocky coastline
whenthe tide is lowthe trick is to ndone
that will photographwell. If theyre too small,
they wont have enoughimpact, andif theyre
too shallowor if the bottomis sandy andlight,
the reections wont be strong enough. The
ideal time to arrive is as the tide is going out,
so that youcanset upas rockpools are being
revealed, andshoot while the surrounding
rocks are still wet andshiny. This is also easier
thanhaving to rushyour pictures before an
incoming tide covers upthe perfect rockpool.
Weather conditions are also important.
It needs to be still enoughthat there are no
ripples onthe surface of the water to break up
the reection, andthere also needs to be
interest inthe sky dramatic clouds or colours
as unless your rockpool is very close to a
point of interest suchas a lighthouse, its the
sky that will make the reection. Interms of
technique, accurate focusing anddepth-of-eld
are crucial, as this type of image looks best
whenboththe immediate foregroundandthe
reectionare sharp. This isnt as easy as it may
seem, as the focal plane of the reectionis
muchfurther away thanthe reective medium.
One last thing to be aware of is correct
ltration, whichcanbe usedbothto balance
the light inthe scene overall, andto also
enhance the reectionitself.
Professional photographer MarkBauer goespaddlingamong
rockpoolstoshowushowtomaster reectionsinwater
Reective surfaces
are by their very
nature bright, and
this can fool your
cameras meter into
Add+0.5to +1
stops of exposure
compensation, and
check the histogramafter shooting to make sure.
You needto be careful when focusing, as the focal
planes of the waters surface andthe reection
are not the same. If you leave your camera on
autofocus, it couldfocus on the surface of the
water, which means the more distant reection
couldfall out of focus. To make sure the scene
is sharpfromfront to back, switch to manual
focusing andfocus a thirdof the way into the
scene anduse a small aperture, such as f/16.
Arriving at dawn, I look for suitable
foreground interest. I quite like the foreground
in this shot, but the rockpool doesnt work its
too small and shallowto reect the sky properly.
This one works a little better, but without any
ltration, the highlights in the sky have blown,
and the shadows in the foreground are beginning
to block up.
An NDgrad enables me to retain detail in the
sky and rays of light are starting to break
through in the background, adding drama to the
scene. But I feel the reection can be enhanced.
get in close andll the foregroundwith your
rockpool of choice.
ATRIPODthat allows low-level shooting.
Alowviewpoint will reveal more of the sky in
the reection andmake for a balancedshot.
reection. Contrary to popular belief,
polarisers dont simply remove reections,
but reduce glare too, which can actually
enhance reections. You have to be careful
to set the correct polarisation, though,
because you can kill the reection if you get
it wrong. Look through the viewnder and
rotate the polariser slowly. Stopwhen you
see the effect you want.
NDGRADShelpbalance contrast in the
scene. Take care not to overgrad the scene,
however, because in real life reections are
usually darker than the sky andyour picture
wont look natural if its the other way round.
SOLIDNDFILTERSIf conditions arent still
andthere are ripples on the water, you can
adda Neutral Density lter to lengthen the
exposure andsmooth out the water.
By taking a lowviewpoint, you are able
to ll the frame with the rockpool and
also include the reected sky.
Landscape-format images usually work
better than portraits in these situations
Waterinlandscapes 83 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
My next step is to add a polariser. However,
as you can see, if you set it incorrectly, you
can kill the refection rather than enhance it. Its
time to tweak the polarising effect.
Just half a turn of the polariser helps to make
the refection stand out. However, I feel the
image can be improved by smoothing out the
water in the middle distance.
Adding a solid NDflter allows me to increase
the shutter speed to ten seconds, which
smooths out the sea in the middle distance and
improves the look of the water in the rockpool.
All thecomponents come
together for aperfect image.
As youcansee, theres always
abit of timefor refection.
Colourinlandscapes:TheBasics 85
1) Harmonyandcontrast
There are basically two types of relationship between
colours harmony and contrast. Looking at a colour
wheel helps us to understand this. Colours that are
next to each other, for example blue and green, are
harmonious, while those that are opposite, for example
blue and yellow, contrast with each other.
Also, colours that are on the warm side of the wheel
harmonise with each other, while all those on the cool
side also harmonise. Harmonious colours are more
calming to look at, and blues and greens in particular
are very tranquil. Contrasting colours are more
dramatic and create a tension that can challenge the
eye blue and yellow is a strong contrast.
A LOT OF TIME, energy and thought has been devoted
to the study of colour, its practical applications and
its psychological effects. Often those applications and
effects are linked. Its not an accident that stop signs are
red, cool settings on air conditioning are blue or that the
environmental movement has adopted the colour green.
Much can be learned about the relationships between
colours, too. Colours work together in different ways,
with certain combinations creating energy and tension,
while others harmonise and create calm. When a colour
appears in nature with a greater than normal intensity,
the stage is set for great landscape photography.
Learning their relationship will reap rewards.
Contrasting colours such as
yellowandblue, or redand
green create tension and
drama. Colours adjacent to
each other are calming.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
86 Colourinlandscapes
As well as having visual impact, colours can suggest different moods,
evoke different emotions and can have symbolic signicance related to our
culture and background. Think about the effect a dominant colour might
have on your image. It might be appropriate to subdue a colour,
or emphasise it. Consider colour in the composition, the lighting and
through careful use of ltration.
RED is an intense colour, especially when contrasted against a dark
background. It is a colour universally used for warning or danger and
is hard to ignore. Red is the most powerful and attention-grabbing colour
in photography, though it can prove distracting if included small within the
landscape, for instance, a distant car, boat or letterbox.
BLUE is a retiring colour, which can be employed to convey
restfulness, sadness or tranquility. In photography, it is commonly
used to convey coldness, which works especially well when combined with
water and wintry scenes. Blue is a very important colour for landscape
photographers as a saturated sky creates a attering backdrop.
GREEN is often used to signify health and life. Obviously, green is the
predominant colour of vegetation and therefore it is dominant in
many scenic images. Green is easily overwhelmed by bright advancing
colours, like red and, generally speaking, has less impact. However, when
isolated, green can still create strong, interesting images.
YELLOWis another bold, advancing colour, often used to represent
happiness or brightness. It will add warmth to your image and works
particularly well when combined or contrasted with blue. Yellow, along with
similarly rich colours, like gold and orange, epitomise autumn. It can prove
a good background for still-life images.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Colourinlandscapes 87
OK, if were going to be strictly technical about this,
the term saturation refers to how pure any given
colour is. But over time and in practical terms,
saturation has come to mean how intense or strong
a colour appears in an image.
Producing saturated images involves more than
simply boosting colours in Photoshop although
much can be done that way, with great results
there are plenty of options at the picture-taking
stage. Lets consider those rst.
The time of day has an impact on colour
saturation. Early-morning and late-evening light, with
the sun low in the sky and less glare, will produce
more intense colours than at other times, as will
front lighting rather than side or backlighting.
A polarising lter, by reducing reections and
cutting down on glare, also improves saturation. A
polariser has the maximum effect when the camera
is at 90 to the sun. Polarisers are simple to use
as the effect is clearly visible through the cameras
viewnder the most obvious one being the
increase in saturation of blue skies.
There are couple of things to watch out for. It
is possible to over-polarise a scene, resulting in
skies appearing almost black, and also, when using
wide-angle lenses (wider than 28mm on a full-frame
SLR or 17mm on an APS-C-type SLR) the degree of
polarisation can be uneven across the frame.
Of course, its not always desirable to have strong,
vibrant, saturated colours. Muted, pastel tones are
more subtle, but can be just as effective with the
right subject matter, creating an atmosphere of calm
and tranquility. Early morning mist will drain colours,
and also give a cold, bluish hue to a scene, which
you can enhance by tweaking the White Balance
either in camera, or later, if youre shooting Raw, at
the conversion stage.
Of course, a lot can be done at the processing
stage. Experiment with different White Balance
settings to try to ne-tune the overall atmosphere
and nd an overall cast that suits the image best.
Over the page, well show how varying the White
Balance of a Raw le can have give dramatic results.
Single colours often give an image a particular mood
and its possible to make successful compositions
using just one colour or shades of one colour.
Certain lighting conditions can create this effect
and add atmosphere to a scene. An intensely orange
or red sunset will give every neutral colour a strong
bias, bathing a scene in a ery warmth.
Also, strong backlighting can desaturate colours,
creating an almost monochromatic effect; while at
pre-sunrise and post-sunset, there is no single strong
light source and the light is diffused and reected
down from the sky.
The two images on the right are really good
examples of monochromatic images. Starting over
on the far right you can see how backlighting has
drained the colours from this scene, resulting in an
image that appears almost devoid of colour.
The pre-dawn light bathing the lake and dead
wood in the near right picture is diffused, falling on
the scene from virtually the whole sky. It has given
the whole scene a fairly cold cast, but the mood
is very tranquil. It really suits the cold, wind-free
stillness of a winter morning.
Backlitdesaturation Pre-dawnmonochrome
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
There are two types of polariser: circular andlinear.
This doesnt refer to the physical shape theyre both
actually circular but the way the light is polarised.
Make sure youbuy a circular polariser for use with
your DSLRas linear types interfere withyour cameras
metering, whichcant handle linearly-polarisedlight.
88 Colourinlandscapes
The rst thing you needto do is to nda suitable scene. Ideally, the
location you choose shouldhave some well-denedshapes andareas of
strong shadows andbright highlights, such as woodland. However, this
colourful eldof poppies caught my eye andI hopedto be able to use the
Vaseline to create a strong abstract effect basedaroundthe boldreds. I
mountedmy DSLRon a tripod, to ensure images were shake-free, andused
Sigma's excellent 70-200mmf/2.8lens to cropfairly tightly on the poppy eld.
With the camera supported on a sturdy tripod, it's important to 'lock' the
focus before smearing the lter with Vaseline the AF systemwill
struggle to focus once it's been applied. To do this, focus on the scene
normally and then switch the lens fromAF to manual focus, so when you press
the shutter button later on, to take a shot, it won't affect the focusing.
With everything prepared, it's time to apply the Vaseline. Rather than
scoop big wedges fromthe tub, gently smear relatively thin lines of
Vaseline across the frame. Here, you can see howjust a single smear affects
the scene. I looked through the viewnder the whole time I was applying the
Vaseline, to see howit was affecting the overall scene.
WITHDANIEL LEZANOPhotoshop has allowed all sorts of weird
and wonderful effects to be applied to images in post-production,
but I still prefer to get as close as possible to the nal image
in-camera. Much of this is because Im not particularly good
with Photoshop to be honest, but mainly because I actually
nd it fun (as well as occasionally frustrating), to go old-school and use
more traditional photographic techniques to give the results Im looking for.
Ive recently started experimenting with producing unusual soft-focus
effects by smearing Vaseline on a lter. As I discovered, its very easy to try,
so why not give it a go this month and see how you get on.
SmearingVaselineonalter might not soundsensible, but
it canhelpyoucapturecreativeresultsof colourful scenes
As you'll discover, getting a
desiredeffect requires lots of trial
anderror whenit comes to
smearing the lter. Start off by
applying a thinline of Vaseline
across the central part of the
lter, andapply further smears
until you've coveredthe whole
surface. Take a fewshots, rotate
the lter so the smears are
diagonal andshoot again. Apply
thicker smears of Vaseline to
create randompatterns, andthen
wipe the lter cleanandtry again!
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The minimumof additional kit is
required, so its anaffordable technique
to try. Atubof Vaseline wont break the
bank, but youll needa UVor skylight
lter to screwonto the front of your
lens. I cannot over-emphasise how
important it is that youapply Vaseline
to the lter andnot to the front element
of your lens, as it couldpermanently
damage the optics. Youshouldalso
keepa cleanlens clothhandy, for
wiping away Vaseline whenyouwant to
cleanthe lter andtry again, or at the
endof your days shooting. Thats about
all youneedinterms of accessories,
withthe exceptionof a tripod, which
will keepyour camera steady when
youre preparing the compositionand
focusing onthe scene.
Colourinlandscapes 89
As well as horizontal smears, I also rotated the flter so as to make the
smears run diagonally and then vertically this made a big difference to
the result. I also tried a variety of smear patterns, such as criss-crossed lines
and wavy lines to see what effect it had on the scene. It's worth trying this,
as it's impossible to predict what works best.
Once I'd applied the Vaseline across the flter, I fred off a fewframes,
choosing a variety of apertures fromf/5.6to f/13, so that I could see how
the results varied (in truth, it made little difference). After a fewframes, I used
my fnger to apply more Vaseline, to see if a thicker layer would improve the
effect. However, I found that using too much of it led to too soft a result.
My favourite image was one taken
towards the end of my session.
After refning my composition,
angling the camera down towards
a smaller area of the feld (to
make the poppies larger in the
frame), I carefully applied very
thin smears to the flter.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
90 Colourinlandscapes
4)wb:flourescent 5)wb:custom
withmarkbauer Different light sources produce different
colour casts, basically in terms of how warm or cool the light
is and how much green or magenta is present. For example, a
household tungsten light bulb will produce a much warmer light
than you will fnd outside on a cloudy day. Fluorescent lighting
will have a green colour cast.
The warmth or coolness of a light source is referred to as its colour
temperature, which is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). The lower the
number, the warmer the light for example, a sunset will have a colour
temperature of around 3000K, neutral daylight (noon on a sunny day) is
around 50005500K, and an overcast sky around 70008000K.
Our eyes adapt very quickly and easily to the colour of different light
sources and will see a white object as white whether we view it under
tungsten light or outside on a cloudy day. To render colour accurately with
a digital SLR, however, you will need to set the correct White Balance,
which can either be done when taking the picture or when processing the
image in your Raw converter. Personally, Id always recommend shooting
in Raw, as it provides a lot more fexibility.
If shooting subjects such as portraits, colour accuracy and correct
White Balance is essential, to achieve natural looking skin tones. With
landscapes, however, absolute colour accuracy is not always what we
strive for capturing pleasing colours is more what its all about. So, in the
old days of flm, landscape photographers would use flms like Fuji Velvia
for its vibrant colour and use colour correction flters amber warm-ups
and blue cooling flters to enhance mood and atmosphere rather than
produce neutral, accurate colours. For example, a warm-up flter could be
used to enhance the already warm light of a sunset. Digital photographers
can use different White Balance settings to achieve similar effects.
For this series of pictures, I took the same
Raw fle and applied different White Balance
settings to fnd out which one best suited
the overall mood of the picture.
1) Daylight(5500k) The dusk light was cold
and blue. There was just a hint of a glow from
the sun below the horizon, picked up by the
clouds over the distant headland. The daylight
WB has rendered the scene well, with cool
blue shadows that suit the mood of the image.
2) ClouDy(6500k) The cloudy setting has
warmed things up and added some magenta.
This works well for the sky, but for my taste,
has failed to enhance the water and shadows.
I suspect a lot of people will like it, though.
3) ShaDe(7500k) Too warm and magenta,
and doesnt refect the mood of the scene.
However, some people will probably like this.
4) FluoreSCent(3800k) I actually quite
like this, as its true to the mood of the actual
scene, though it is a bit over the top and the
sky has lost a lot of oomph.
5) CuStomwb(4800k) As a compromise,
I went back to the daylight WB and cooled
things down just a little. I felt that this was a
good representation of the mood of the scene,
though the sky lacked punch.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
For the fnal result, I blended the sky
fromthe cloudy WBinto the custom
WBimage, then faded the sky a
little, so that it looked natural with
the cooler bottomhalf. The result
was a picture that had the cool, blue
shadows and a more dramatic sky.
withhelendixonI always shoot my
landscapes in colour and convert to black
& white afterwards (see the feature on
converting colour images, over the page).
This provides me with the full three channels
of information to play with at the Raw processing stage,
rather than just one. I do know some people who shoot
JPEGs and use the in-camera monochrome setting,
often in combination with a red flter to darken greens
and blues to give really dark skies, but to get an image
with the potential to give the best possible mono results,
shoot in colour and convert to black & white on your PC.
Youve got to try and visualise a scene in black &
white; its much more challenging than a regular colour
landscape. You need a good range of tonal detail, or you
will end up with a scene lacking in contrast.
I wouldnt normally shoot an image with a plain blue
sky, for example, as youll just end up with a fat shade
of grey. Youre looking for an active sky, something
with plenty of cloud drama a scene as a whole that
has plenty of shadows and highlights, and separation
between foreground and background.
A beach scene, for example, doesnt tend to offer
much tonal contrast. Youve got the sand and the sea,
maybe some cliffs, and the sky; each of which is fairly
uniform in tone and texture and can end up looking fairly
dull. Its for this reason that I tend to gravitate towards
country scenes for my black & white photography, as
theres a lot more variation going on in texture and tone.
I also look for more lead-in lines with monochrome;
the composition needs to be that much stronger
because of the absence of colour. The viewers eye is
much more focused on other aspects of the shot, such
as shape, form, and texture. The viewers imagination
has to work harder. Another great thing about shooting
landscapes in black & white is that you dont need the
best weather. A dark, brooding sky can add a lot of
drama to an image, and you dont need to worry about
using ND grad flters either, though I do still make sure to
use a polarising flter to enhance the sky.
I dont think enough people dedicate time towards
black & white photography anymore. You need to see
the image in print, hanging on a wall, to really appreciate
it. It seems to have that much more power in exhibition
than on-screen. The other advantage is that a black &
white image will sit nicely on any interior wall, without
the risk of it clashing with the colour. Monochrome
imagery really does lend itself to display.
BelowleFt: east head, west
wittering. this type of scruffy
location works far better in black
&white than it would in colour.
Below: St Michaels Mount,
Cornwall. lead-in lines are an
important visual aid in my
monochrome photography, as
typifed by the cobbled path in the
foreground leading towards the
distant mount.
RiGht: Although the tree provides
the foreground interest, the clouds
really drawthe eye in this
monochrome image. the stark
and barren landscape with bare
and lifeless felds all add to the
drama. noise was added to the
sky to keep the graininess going
throughout the whole scene.
92 Colour:Black&white TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
One of the wonderful things about digital is
that it is easy to convert your colour images
to black & white. There are numerous ways
you can go about the conversion using
image editing software like Photoshop, each
offering a different level of control over the
tonality. For the ultimate in image quality
and exibility, learning how to convert
colour images to monochrome is crucial.
Most cameras have a monochrome mode
but youll always get superior results by
shoot in colour and then converting it later
for a number of reasons. The main one
is that a colour images holds a lot more
information than a b&w image, so you have
more control over rening its contrast,
plus you have a colour image to work with
too. Here we cover the four most popular
methods to convert colour to black & white
and wed suggest you give each one a try
to nd your favourite.
2)Grayscale 1)Desaturate
This is a good starting point and wed recommend using this method
most of the time if youre a beginner. Within a couple of clicks you
can get a high contrast black & white image, however in doing so you
discard all the images colour information so theres less room for
renement. Go to Image>Mode>Grayscale.
You can see that the image looks less muddy and that the blues are
a little darker. The tonal separation has created an interesting image.
From here you can tweak using Curves/Levels, especially if you
select areas like skies or backgrounds beforehand.
This is one of the quickest and easiest routes to convert a colour
shot and youve guessed it, the least favourable! Use the shortcut
Cmd/Cntrl+Shift+U or Image>Adjust>Desaturate to remove colour.
Alternatively slide the desaturate slider to 0 in the Hue/Saturation
dialogue box (Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation).
Looking at the Swatch colour chart, all tones are distinctly muddy
especially yellows, which go more mid-grey than light grey. It can
be ne for occasional use but spending a little more time and effort
using one of the other methods will yield much better results.
GRAYSCALECOMPARISON: Using Grayscale is very easy and usually delivers
very good results. Here, there is excellent tonal range and good contrast.
DESATURATIONCOMPARISON: The Desaturate method is very quick and
easy but, as you can see here, it produces a at b&wimage with muddy tones.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Use Layer>NewAdjustment Layer>
Channel Mixer or Black &White. It
creates a layer that can be edited if you
change your mind later on. Use this
technique for Curves and Levels, too
Adjustablelayers ju y
94 Colour:Black&white
Colour:Black&white 95
3)Black&WhiteAdjustment 4)ChannelMixer
Channel Mixer is one of the most
powerful ways to convert an image. Its
available for Photoshop CS and Paint
Shop Pro, with a less sophisticated
version in Elements accessible via
Enhance>Convert to Black & White.
The results are very similar to using a
red, green or blue flter in front of your
lens and you can mix the sliders to
create an orange or yellow flter effect.
Go to Image>Adjustment>Channel
Mixer to open the dialogue box. You
will have a choice of Red, Green or Blue
channels in the Output Channel menu.
Now tick the Monochrome box to
convert to mono. The Red channel is a
good starting point but check out each
before deciding.
You can mix a bit of one channel with
another to create new effects. When
adjusting the sliders you should aim to
keep the combined values of all three
sliders to about 100%. For example Red
-20%, Green +140% and Blue -20%
some strange effects can be created by
ignoring this! The Constant slider acts
as a general brightness control. Try boosting colours beforehand by
increasing saturation using Hue/Saturation, this will boost contrast
signifcantly in the black & white version. You can even pick a single
colour to boost like Blue from the Edit menu if you like.
Black&white: its quite amazing to see howby adjusting the different
colour channels you can alter the tonality of the image. Go on, have a play!
channelmixer: the channel mixer is the most involved and time-
consuming method but your efforts will be rewarded with the best results.
3rdedition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
One of the easiest to use and produces
brilliant results, the Black & White
adjustment offers users of varied
abilities more comprehensive control
over an images tonal range.
Go to Image>Adjustment>Black
& White... to open the dialogue
box and to instantly turn the image
monochrome. As well as having a
number of Presets for controlling
contrast to pick from, you have six
sliders each targeting the strength
of a specifc colour in your image. A
good place to start is the Auto button
as this alone can deliver attractive
results for most images by setting a
greyscale mix based on the colour
value of the image. You can then use
the sliders to tweak the grey values to
suit the style of image you want.
Its an excellent tool if you want to
darken a blue sky while keeping fuffy
white clouds for more impact. Or if you
have a scene of yellow fowers amongst
green grass, both of which will render a
similar shade of grey, and want to target each colour separately. The
fne-tuning of your image can be time-consuming but well worth the
effort. Be sure to play with all the sliders as you might be surprised
at how much the Red slider alters yellows, the Yellow slider alters
greens and the Cyan slider affects any blue tones in your scene.
96 Colour:Black&white TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
WHENSHOOTINGLANDSCAPES, most of us give little
thought to howresults may appear inmono. This is
understandable, as for most of us, the vast majority of shots
we take will remainincolour. Nowwere not suggesting that
infuture youimagine howevery scene youshoot might look
inblack &white, but we wouldsuggest youconsider it from
time to time. Shooting images to convert to mono canbe
somewhat of a discipline andwhenyoudo planto capture a
scene withthe intentionof making it monochrome, you
shouldbear inmindfactors that may affect the impact of
your picture, or the lack thereof, once its converted. To stop
animage appearing lifeless once the colour is stripped
away, youneedto pay particular attentiononthe
composition, tonal range, shapes andforegroundinterest.
First of all, its worthavoiding areas withhighly saturated
colour, like sunsets, or felds of bluebells, poppies and
canola, because a black &white image simply wont do
themjustice. Remember that every colour has its own
shade of grey whenconvertedto mono, so youre looking
for scenes that showa range of lights anddarks, otherwise
yourisk the image looking fat andlacking tonal range.
Formis a vital ingredient of mono landscapes, so look for
scenes withtextures, strong lines andboldshapes that can
helpcreate contrast inblack &white, andforeground
interest that canleadthe eye into the scene. Wet rocks are
brilliant for achieving contrast as youcanget specular
highlights fromwhere the sunbounces off their wet surface.
Roughweather oftenadds drama to scenes: stormy skies
are wonderful. Youshouldavoidcloudless skies, as these
give grey, lifeless results. If clouds are more wispy than
substantial, youcanuse the BurnTool to selectively adjust
the exposure; darkening themto addsome drama.
While directional light is better for creating contrast,
Mother Nature doesnt always bless us withthe perfect
photography conditions, but dont worry, as well showyou
howyoucanselectively adjust the exposure using the
Dodge andBurnTools to transformyour mellowmid-tones
into highlights andshadows for extra impact.
Converting your image to mono inAdobe Camera Rawor
using a black &white adjustment layer are bothbrilliant
ways to get great results (bothof whichwell cover indetail
later), but we shouldnt neglect the Channel Mixer, which
was a favourite methodfor many until CS3. Its a stepupin
quality anda lot more controllable thana simple grayscale
conversion. Andwhile not as advancedas the other
methods, it allows youto work withthe colour information
inthe image to enhance the tonal range more precisely, and
is still one of the best ways to get extreme contrast.
Withsomanywaystoconverttoblack&white, weshowyouafantastictechniqueto
bringfatlandscapestolifeandgetthebestoutof yourpicturesblack&whitepotential
Nowduplicate the layer (Layer>Duplicate
Layer) and rasterize the image so that you
can edit it by clicking on the image, and then hit
OKwhen the dialogue box shows up. Next click
on Layer>NewAdjustment Layer>Channel Mixer
to open its dialogue box. Using an Adjustment
Layer means if you want to undo your conversion,
you can just delete the layer as you havent
affected the original image.
Open your image using Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw.
The frst thing that you should do is to make any necessary
exposure adjustments to get the image howyou want it to
look. For this image, we adjusted the Exposure slider by adding
a positive value to lighten the picture and the Blacks slider to
slightly increase contrast.
When you come to open the image in Photoshop, hold
down Shift (Mac) or Cmd (PC) to change the Open Image
button into Open Object. This way, if you want to edit the Raw
fles again later say you want to adjust the exposure further
you can double-click on the layer in Photoshop to revert
back to Adobe Camera Raw.
To start with, click on the Monochrome box
to turn the image black &white. Nowuse the
sliders to adjust the Red, Green and Blue
channels to improve the contrast. For the best
results, avoid clipping any highlights or shadows
by making sure the total value of the sliders is
100%. You can check this under the sliders,
where youll see the total amount changing as
you modify the colours.
This is hownot to do it. See howthe total
value is 200% while the shadows are well
exposed, the highlights have been clipped and
weve lost detail in the sky and the water. Its all
about fnding the right balance. If you fnd you
have a couple of hotspots or dark areas that you
cant get right using channels, youll be able to
correct that in the next step just try to avoid
doing it in excess.
Colour:Black&white 97 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
By using the Dodge and Burn
Tools you can bring over and
underexposed areas back fromthe
brink for a brilliant mono result.
Click back to the Layers Palette and on to the
duplicate layer. If you have some areas that
need lightening a little, select the Dodge Tool
fromthe toolbar. You will then want to select a
large, soft brush (we use a diameter of 900px and
0%Hardness) fromthe Options bar (the top
toolbar) and select Shadows fromthe Range
drop-down menu, set the Exposure as lowas 4%
and check Protect Tones.
Brush over the area you want to lighten. If
your brush is too hard or your Exposure is too
high, youll fnd youll make circles over the areas
youre brushing on. For the best results you want
to build the effect up softly. Zooming in to the
area by holding Cmd and +can help. Nowswitch
the Range to Midtone and, adjusting the brush
size and Exposure as necessary, work on
lightening the grey areas.
Repeat Step 7 with the Burn Tool, found
underneath the Dodge Tool in the toolbar. Set
a lowExposure, select a soft, large brush and
Midtone for your Range. Focus on the shadow
areas and the darker mid-tones, increasing
contrast by getting rid of as much grey as
possible, without losing any detail, and boosting
the blacks. If done right, this step can make the
clouds look particularly dramatic.
Wrong Right
98 Colour:Black&white TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
infraredimages canbe costly thats if you
have a spare camera lying around, whichfew
of us do. There are cheaper alternatives, such
as lters that block visible light while only
letting infraredlight throughto the sensor. But
as these lters are opaque, its virtually
impossible to see through, whichmakes it
difcult therefore to compose your shot.
Now, thanks to our toptechnique, there is an
easy way to achieve the mono infraredeffect
froma colour image: youcansimulate for free,
via a fewsteps inPhotoshop, or by applying a
plug-inlter fromthe likes of Nik Software.
pink cast, whichrequires post-processingto
convert it intotheethereal black &whiteimage
that has madeit suchapopular technique.
The creative effect works particularly well
withlandscape scenes that have lots of green
foliage, as the greenturns white, creating great
contrast. Blue skies also addimpact as they
turndark, making any clouds look dramatic.
Youcanget some very interesting results if the
photographalready has milky water froma
long exposure too, adding to the ethereal
quality of the infrared, like the image were
using for this step-by-stepby professional
photographer AdamBurton. It has vibrant
greenfoliage, whichshouldturnstark white
once the effect has beenapplied, anda good
tonal range that ensures well have a strong
ratio of blacks andwhites.
results. UsingPhotoshop, youcantransformyourimagestoaddmonoIRmagic!
Open your JPEGor TIFF image in Photoshop and apply a Black &White
Adjustment Layer to convert to monochrome by clicking Layer>New
Adjustment Layer>Black &WhiteThisshouldthenopenanAdjustment
Layerdialoguebox, if not, double-clickonthethumbnail intheLayersPalette.
While the lter does a pretty good job, its just a starting point. Use the
sliders to rene and improve the effect further if you think it needs it.
Here we adjusted the Blue slider slightly to pop the whites in the water. Be
careful that you dont overdo it though and burn out the highlights, creating
hotspots where you lose too much detail.
You can apply an infrared effect by moving the sliders to modify the
colours in the black &white image. Youll probably nd that the Yellow,
Green and Blue sliders work best. But start with the Infrared preset lter
located in a drop-down menu at the top of the Adjustment Layer.
Next create an adjusted layer by holding down the Alt (Mac) or Option
(PC) key and select Layer>Merge Visible to create a black &white
version of your image. Then convert the layer to a Smart Filter by clicking on
the layer and going to Filter>Convert to Smart Filter. This way you can edit
any lter you apply after you commit to it.
If you want to convert a camera so that it only
captures infrared light, wed recommend ACS
in Norfolk due to their expertise in this area.
Colour:Black&white 99 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
For the image to replicate a true lminfrared look, the whites need a
slight glow, which you can easily achieve by applying some Gaussian Blur.
With the Smart Filter layer selected, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Go
heavy on the blur we set a radius of 27.0pixels as you can always lower
the layers opacity later by moving the slider at the top of the Layers Palette.
Next, change the layers blending mode (located in a drop-down menu at
the top of the Layers Palette) to Overlay, so the top layer interacts with
the layer underneath and boosts contrast. If you need to bring some detail
back in to the shadows, go to Image>Adjustments>Shadows/Highlights and
adjust the sliders as needed.
The blur and popping
whites has given a
standard colour image
an eye-catching and
ethereal look of a ne-art
infrared photograph.
To really make your whites pop, you
could try applying a small amount
of the Diffuse Glow
lter (Filter>
Distort>Diffuse Glow) but dont
overdo it and lose too much detail
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LANDSCAPESTAKEONcompletelydifferent colours and
characteristics dependingontheseason, somakesuretovisit your
favouritelocations at different times of theyear.
Winter is manylandscapephotographers favouritetimeof year.
Thebaretrees meanthat thetextureof thelanditself is fully
revealedbythelow, rakingsunthat characterises this timeof
year. Thewinter air is clear, andthesunis lowenoughinthesky
tomakeall-dayshootingapossibility. Keepaneyeontheweather
conditions aheavyfrost or, if yourereallylucky, ahoar frost, can
createafairy-talescene. Takecarewithmeteringthelight tones and
reectivenatureof afrostylandscapecanfool thecameras meter
intounderexposure. Snowlooks its best under abluesky, whichcan
Springis characterisedbyfreshness andanabundanceof owers
likedaffodils, tulips andbluebells. Springis alsothetimefor showery
weather, whichexperiencedlandscapephotographers love, as the
light immediatelyafter ashower passes is oftenverydramatic, with
thesunburstingthroughanddark, threateningclouds still inthesky.
Summer is theleast favouriteseasonfor manylandscape
photographers. For muchof theday, thesunis toohighinthesky
toprovideanytextural relief onthescene, thelanditself is often
obscuredbydensefoliageandthereis alot of dust andhazeintheair.
However, all is not lost, andthereareshots tobefound.
Althoughthereis less varietyof owers thaninspring, those
that arearoundhaveplentyof colour poppies andsunowers, for
example, or theheather that starts toappear at theendof summer;
thetimewhenstrawandhaybales start appearinginelds. These
makegreat subjects, especiallyas theyhavebecomeoneof the
great symbols of theBritishsummer.
Autumnisadreamseasontoshoot. Thesunisrelativelylowinthe
skyfor muchof theday, soyoucanbeout takingpicturesfor hours.
Thecoloursarefantastic, soll theframewithautumnal oranges, reds
andyellows. Inearlyautumn, aclear skyandacoldnight will often
result inearlymorningmist-lledvalleys, riversandlakesasthesun
appears. Mist canlookeffectiveif youshoot intothesunbut takecare
toavoidunderexposurebysetting+1 exposurecompensation.
104 Winter:ExpertGems
A layer of frost adds an instant
magical atmosphere to your landscape
pictures. Youll fnd a wide-angle lens
will allow you to fll the frame with the
magic of a winter wonderland. The
cold weather usually brings a clear
blue sky, which complements the
crisp, frozen landscape and the pastel
colours that can be seen in felds and
woodland. Go in low and close with
a wide-angle lens and remember to
include interest in the foreground.
Partially-frozen waterfalls can make
stunning abstract shots. Use a long
lens to get close to the base of the
fall. Most winter water shots are
either fowing water or ice, so include
both to add some contrast. A long
exposure will soften the water, and
create a stark division between the
static ice and fowing water.
This kind of image is worth getting
up early for. You can capture a similar
image at sunset, but you wont have
the added appeal of frost. Polarisers
perform well on sunny winter days,
mainly because the sun remains
relatively low in the sky all day long
during winter. As well as deepening
blue sky it also takes glare off snow.
To get the best results, rotate it slowly
while looking through the viewfnder.
When using wide-angles, take care not
to get unevenly polarised skies.
Although winter light can be harsh,
especially in strong sunshine, winter
sunsets can be some of the most
spectacular of the year. They tend
to be very brief, so make sure that
you get to your location early, leaving
yourself plenty of time to set up and
prepare for your shot.
The best time to take winter scenics
is without doubt shortly after sunrise
when the landscape is covered with
a coating of frost. If youre willing to
wake up early and head into the great
outdoors, you could be blessed with a
view like this.
3 4
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The best methodof
staying warmand
dry is towear
lightweight layers
followedby a
shirt, a lightweight feece top, a
heavier feece andfnally a decent wind/
waterproof jacket. Avoidjeans andinstead
wear cottontrousers. Hat andgloves are a
must andsturdy walking boots tokeep
your feet warmanddry. Inlong grass,
wear waterproof leggings or gaiters.
The advantage of using a polariser for
waterfall shots is that as well as reducing
reections and glare, it has a lter factor
of two stops, making it easier to shoot at
slower shutter speeds and blur water
106 Spring:ExpertGems
Go in low and close with a wide-angle
lens to get maximum impact from
fowers as foreground interest. Make
sure the fowers are in good condition,
once petals start to wither and
dis-colour, youve missed your chance.
Pin-sharp fowers tend to work best,
so try to shoot when they are perfectly
still. Experiment with moving fowers
and slow shutter speeds too, but make
the blur effect really obvious.
There is no time like spring for
shooting rainbows. When you see dark
rainclouds hovering above brightly lit
landscapes, theres a good chance that
youll also see a rainbow. Bracket your
shots to give you the best chance of
capturing the bands of colour at their
best. You could combine these later
in Photoshop to create an image with
an extended range, which will allow
you a greater degree of control over
the details, colours and textures of the
fnal image. Finally, a polarising flter
will add contrast to the scene, as well
as saturating the colours.
One of Britains most popular fowers,
bluebells usually fower from early
April until the end of May. They are
predominantly found in the west of
Britain, usually in or around woodland,
but can also be found near heath, sea
cliffs and even mountain tops.
When youre deep in the woods,
shooting with the sun in front of you
can create stunning lighting effects, as
it allows you to capture the beams of
sunlight penetrating the canopy above,
projecting rays of light into the image.
4)April showers
Lots of spring showers offers you the
chance to capture scenes packed with
moody storm clouds, although you
will probably fnd yourself waiting for
breaks between the showers. It can
be quite tricky to get the exposure
right if there is a dark sky with a bright
foreground. A weak Neutral Density
graduated flter can help even out
the exposure across the frame and
add mood. We recommend you try a
0.3ND or 0.6ND Graduate flter.
Zoom burst With your camera on a
tripod, set a low ISO rating (eg ISO 100)
and a shutter speed of around 1/6sec. Fire
the shutter and during the exposure zoom
in from the widest setting. Zoom evenly
over the exposure time, to reduce the risk
of a jagged zoom burst. Experiment with
shutter speeds to vary the results.
motion blur This technique works
really well with bluebells, and the effect
is reminiscent of an impressionist
watercolour. To achieve this, mount your
DSLR on a tripod with a tilt head. Set an
exposure of around one to two seconds
and a low ISO rating. Use a remote
release (or self-timer) to fre the shutter,
and smoothly tilt the tripod head down
throughout the exposure.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Tripod: Serious landscape
photographers dont set out
without atripod. This will help
youwithcomposition, tokeepthe
horizonlevel andtoreducethe
risk of unwantedshake, which
couldruinyour shots. Theyre
alsouseful if youwant totry one
of our creativetechniques.
Polarisingflters areideal for
enhancingdetail andsaturating
colours. For thebest results,
shoot at 90 tothesun. Make
sureyoubuy acircular and
not linear polariser.
5 5
Spring:ExpertGems 107 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
108 Summer:ExpertGems
Weve written it before and youll
certainly read it again, nothing deepens
a blue sky better than a polariser. But
dont overdo it. On a bright day with
good light on the foreground, a slightly
underexposed (i.e dark) blue sky can
pack plenty of punch. Pure blue skies
tend to disappear by mid-morning.
First of all, if you are visiting the east
coast, make that sunrises. There are
rare coastal areas that loop back on
themselves (Hunstanton in Norfolk
enjoys sunsets across The Wash) but
make sure you head to your location
at the right time! Halos around clouds
make the very best sunrises and
sunsets. Check the exposure via the
histogram to ensure you get it right.
Evening light stretches very late in
summer. The sun hits the horizon at
an oblique angle and there is a long
afterglow that will produce stunning
landscapes long after sunset. Long
exposures will capture this soft dreamy
time allowing clouds to paint their
progress across the sky, emphasising
the mood.
Take a break from the ubiquitous rape
felds and their powerful yellow energy
and fnd out what else is growing in the
area youre photographing. Lavender
felds are appearing across the country,
thanks to the plants essential oils,
said to aid sleep. Keep awake to the
possibility of trespassing and dont be
tempted to pick the fowers. In late
summer, shoot wheat felds in morning
or evening light.
Lets shake you out of your lavender-
induced reverie and smack you
between the eyes with strong colours
at lunchtime. We just mentioned the
yellow rape feld under clear blue sky
clich, but its still a great shot. These
poppies look stunning, contrasting with
the green. This shot can work even
when the sun is high and the
thin cloud softens the light like a great
big studio softbox.
2 3
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Althoughwe wouldalways
recommendftting a clear
flter to your lens to protect
the front element, its during
the summer months that
these protective flters will
make most difference to your
photographs. The ultraviolet
flter andthe skylight flter bothhelpto
remove the haze fromsummer
landscapes. Some flmphotographers
usedto ft a gentle warm-upflter to deal
withthe cool blue cast inshadows on
sunny days, but digital technology has
made this unneccessary.
Seepage59for moreflter advice
110 Autumn:ExpertGems
3 4
Autumn is a great season for shooting
misty scenes, and some areas, such
as parts of the New Forest, seem to
act as mist traps, so head out in
the early morning to see what the
dawn light reveals. Using the long
end of a 24-105mm zoom lens, this
composition is based around the
overlapping shapes of the hills rising
out of the mist. A 0.6ND graduated
flter helped keep detail in the sky, and
a tripod kept everything steady.
Use refections in areas of still
water such as ponds and lakes to
accentuate the seasons golden
colours. A beautiful display of colour
is emphasised by the late afternoon
sunshine in this image, taken beside
a small brook in the New Forest. An
ND graduate flter was positioned
over the upper half of the image, to
achieve a balanced exposure over the
whole picture. After converting the
Raw image to a TIFF fle, the picture
was tone-mapped using Photomatix
software to help bring out some detail
in the darker areas of the scene.
Research areas renowned for autumn
colour, such as Westonbirt Arboretum
in Gloucestershire, with its spectacular
display of Japanese maples. Here
youll fnd colours ranging from
bright golds to deep reds. Revisit
locations during the season as colours
constantly change. Return late season
and take advantage of the opportunity
to shoot the fallen leaves creating a
carpet of colour on the woodland foor.
Admit it, you want to climb this tree,
dont you? Its gnarly roots and angle
of the trunk and branches provide
a perfect lead-in to the scene. The
composition takes your eye on a
journey that your feet want to follow.
Only a shutter speed of two seconds
or more will blur a woodland stream
this much. A long exposure needs a
small aperture, giving front-to-back
sharpness and the sprinkling of golden
leaves adds interest to the moss.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
lens, suchas the
Sigma10-20mm, will
allowyoutomake the
most of themajority
of autumnal
opportunities. Onthis
page, only themisty
mornings shot was takenwithatelephoto.
Whenthewider endof your standard
zoomisnt wideenough, autumnis agood
Seepage136for morelensadvice
WITHLUKE MARSHIn this tutorial we show you how to turn a lush green scene into a
misty morning with soft autumnal colour. All from the relative comfort of your desk.
There is a hint of diffused light in the original image, around the second curve in the
road. This got Luke imagining what the scene might look like with the same bright
sunlight but even more mist. Then, using the magic of Photoshop, he made it happen.
In this easy-to-follow, step-by-step tutorial you will learn the value of the Adjustment Layer in
post-processing, how to adjust Hue/Saturation and Gradient Fill. Luke will show you how to select a
section of the tree trunk and then, using layers, create mist that appears to be in front and behind
the tree. Photoshop Elements 4.0 was used here, but more recent versions are suitable too.
Selecting the Eraser tool (inset) with a large soft brush, I begin to
paint out the areas of the foreground that look odd due to the
change in hue, allowing the original image to be seen frombeneath. The
thumbnail previewin the Layers palette allows me to check my
progress, with the erased areas indicated in black (inset).
To create the fog effect, Ill use a Gradient Adjustment Layer.
The gradient will be based on the foreground colour, which by
default is black, so to change it to white I click the Switch Foreground
Color icon at the base of the tool palette (inset). I select Gradient
through the Adjustment Layer ( ) and name it.
The Gradient Fill windowappears and the gradient is previewed live
on the image. Click in the Gradient Field and the Gradient Editor
opens. You must ensure that Color to Transparent is active, the colour
being white as set in step four, then click OKto close and return to the
canvas, complete with gradient.
I need another identical gradient to build some depth to the fog
effect so I go to Layer>Duplicate Layer, naming the newlayer
accordingly. I wont be using the newlayer yet so I want to hide it. To do
this I click the Layer Visibility icon note that the eye disappears (inset)
to indicate that the layer is no longer visible.
112 SeasonalColour:Photoshopskills TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The best way to alter the hue of an image is with Hue/Saturation
through the Adjustment Layers menu. Adjustment layers are good
because they allowyou to edit and re-edit your image without actually
altering the original. So, go to the Adjustment Layer symbol ( ) in the
layers palette (inset) and scroll to Hue/Satuation.
In the Hue/Saturation windowI drag the Hue slider left (),
changing the hue of the image. I stop when I reach the desired
autumnal mood and click OK. Because this command affects the entire
image, certain areas may look a little odd, such as the road. This is
where the Adjustment Layer comes in handy.
Imgoing to use the Brush tool to add some depth to the fog behind
the tree so I go Select>Inverse to select the background. Ill now
need a newlayer as Adjustment Layers only allowfor application of
specic tasks, in this case, gradients. I go to Layer>NewLayer and with
the brush set to 20%opacity, I create denser fog areas.
I use Select>Deselect to remove the trunk selection, then
activate a second gradient in the layers palette, clicking the
empty box opposite to make it visible. This gives a denser fog effect,
which I tone down by setting the opacity to 45%. Using the Eraser with
opacity at 35%, I erase creatively to complete the effect.
Before moving on I ensure that the original gradient layer I created
is active by clicking on its thumbnail in the Layers palette (inset).
With the Polygonal Lasso selected fromthe tool palette, I drawan
accurate selection around the trunk of the foreground tree using
Select>Feather at three pixels to soften the selection.
Back to the Eraser tool, this time with a smaller soft brush and the
Opacity to 25%, which allows for a gradual removal and so offers
more control. I begin to paint out the fog fromthe gradient layer,
the polygonal selection ensuring only the trunk is affected, giving
the illusion that the tree is in front of the layers of fog.
Landscapeprojects 115 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
116 Landscapeprojects TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Once I reviewed the composition, I found it wasn't strong enough; the
skyline lacked impact and was too far away. I felt a little ltration would
help the scene, so I added a 0.6(two-stop) NDGraduate lter to even out the
contrast between the sky and the land and a polarising lter to add some
drama to the sky by making the clouds stand out.
Simple compositions that have plenty of space around the focal point
work best for this technique, as it provides plenty of roomfor moving
elements to enable themto contrast with the static subjects. With this in
mind, I decided to use a clump of beech trees as the focal point in the scene,
placed towards the bottomof the frame, to make the most of the dramatic
sky that was forming towards sunset.
After some more searching, I found the right trees with a strong sky and
an angle on the hill that made a more dynamic composition. I shot at f/11
at about half a second. Despite the strong sky, the scene still lacked energy
and drama, which I knewcould be added by simply capturing some movement
in the sky with a slower shutter speed.
The sky is one of the most important elements ina landscape
photograph, as it is a major factor that denes the moodof a scene.
Try taking a shot of the same scene takenunder a plainblue sky and
thenunder one that's more threatening, to see the difference it makes.
Astrong sky andthe right light cantransformeventhe most
featureless landscape, but sometimes youneedextra interest using
a long exposure to capture movement is one way to do this. Most of us
are familiar withthis technique whenit's usedwithmoving water or
foliage, but it canalso be usedto goodeffect withskies.
The ideal conditions for capturing moving skies are stormy or
showery weather, withbrokencloudanda blustery windto blowthem
around. If there's lowsunbreaking throughthe clouds that's even
better, as this will helpto bring out the texture of the land. Results are
hardtopredict as it depends onthe speedanddirectionthe clouds are
moving in. Generally, though, the most pleasing results are when
clouds move towards the camera as they fanout across the frame.
To put all this technique to the test, I grabbedmy camera anda set
of NDGraduate andNDlters andtravelledto Wiltshire, to photograph
a scene onthe Ridgeway, near HackpenHill.
Duringlongexposures, its vital
that your cameraremains steady
toavoidany camerashakethat
couldruintheimage. Asolid
essential, as is aremoterelease.
Avoidextendingthe centre
columnof thetripodas this will
hinder stability andtry toset it up
as lowtothegroundas youcan.
Sometripods haveahook onthe
bottomof thecentrecolumnto
hangyour camerabagfromfor
extrastability. For exposures
longer than30seconds, youll
needtoset your cameratoBulb
mode. Onsomecameras this is a
modedial, but for others youll
needtoaccess manual exposure
modeandthenscroll down
throughtheshutter speeds until
youreachBulb, whichis usually
statedontheLCDas Bor Bulb.
With lters, each factor of 0.3 is
equivalent to adding one-stop of
exposure. For instance, a 0.6 lter
is two stops and a 1.2 is four stops
Landscapeprojects 117 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
To achieve the desired shutter speed, I stopped the aperture down to f/22
and added a four-stop solid NDflter. I set the camera to Bulb mode and
opened the shutter for 60seconds. On reviewing the image, there seemed to
be the right amount of movement but there was too much empty space in the
top right of the frame, breaking the cloud pattern.
Before shooting again I reviewed the histogram, which showed that the
image had been exposed reasonably well. However, to allowfor the
lowering light levels, I decided to add half a stop to the exposure so this time
opened the shutter for around 90seconds. With my exposure set correctly,
I took a fewshots to see what the cloud looked like with the newsettings.
The fnal image showed a similar
amount of movement, but with a
much better cloud pattern; the
clouds streaking diagonally across
the frame add a sense of dynamism
to the image, making for a much
more dramatic result than the
original image, which had no
movement in the clouds.
Before you start your sweep, choose whether
youre going to shoot the pano in landscape or
portrait format. If you choose portrait, turn the
camera onto its side. Re-check the spirit-level to
make sure everything is level.
Once you have picked out a scene you feel is
appropriate for a panorama, its time to get
your camera settings correct (you dont want to be
changing themhalfway through the series). For
this scene, I went for 1/8sec at f/11 (ISO100).
Panoramas aresimpleenoughtocreate,
providingyoufollowafewbasic rules:
1) Always keepthe cameracompletely level, so
thevertical lines don't converge.
2) Set focus, exposureandWhiteBalance
manually, sothey don't changefromoneframe
toanother. Toget correct exposureacross the
wholestitch, takeexposurereadings fromthe
wholesceneyou'reshooting, averagethemout
andset this inmanual mode.
3) Overlapframes by about 25%(seebelow),
as it makes themeasier tolineupandensures
noareas aremissing.
4) Usearemote releaseandmirror lock-upto
ensureall frames areas sharpas possible.
5) Don't wastetimebetweenshootingframes,
incasesomethingchanges for example, light
levels or clouds.
6) Don't useapolarisinglter, as theeffect will
changeas youmovethecamerainrelationto
thelight source.
7) Shoot slightly wider thanyouthink youneed,
toallowsomemarginfor error withliningup
thedifferent frames.
For panoramic landscapes, specialist equipment isnt
completely necessary, but there are a fewessential items. A
tripod is vital for stability and for lining up images, as is a head
with a panning action. Aremote release will help you keep all
frames equally sharp and, nally, a hotshoe-mounted spirit level
will keep the camera level (if your camera has an electronic level, you
could use this instead). You can buy specialist panorama heads, which pivot
around the lens's nodal point (the point where the light paths cross inside
the barrel). This prevents lines fromconverging and makes it easier to
line-up frames. It's useful when shooting scenes with lots of straight lines,
such as cityscapes, but isnt so vital for shooting landscapes.
118 Landscapesprojects TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Theres something compelling about
panoramic landscapes, especially whenyou
see themas a big print. For me, its the closest
youcanget to re-creating the experience of
actually being onlocationto see the vista. As
specialist panorama equipment is very
expensive, most photographers prefer to
create panoramas by taking a series of shots
withtheir DSLRandthenstitchthemtogether
using Photoshop. However, one should
remember that not all scenes lendthemselves
to a panoramic treatment. Scenes withstrong
horizontal planes, particularly those that
ow naturally fromleft to right, are ideal. It
also helps if theres a strong focal point, such
as a building, to break upthe horizonline and
slowthe eye downas it travels across the
image. For these shots, I usedthe distinctive,
conically-shapedColmers Hill near Bridport
as the focal point for my panoramic image.
andasMarkBauerexplains, they
What a view! Nowthat youve
captured the beautiful scene in
widescreen, why not consider
framing your perfect panorama.
You have ve options for howPhotoshop can
piece your les together, but for best results
stick to Perspective or Cylindrical. Nowclick on the
Browse button and select the images fromyour
desktop or folder. Finally, click OK.
Your computer will chug away as it processes the les, giving you time for
a well-earned cup of tea. After a couple of minutes you will be presented
with your panorama. The rst thing youll probably notice is that theres some
blank space around the edges of the image.
Once youve returned home fromthe location,
upload your images to your computer. Next,
open Photoshop and then click File>Automate>
Photomerge, which will then open up a dialogue
box with various choices.
To sweep, unlock your tripod's panning
function. Take a shot and then start to rotate
your DSLRfromone side of the viewto the other.
Be sure to overlap each frame by around 25%so
that there are no missing gaps.
Select the Crop Tool fromyour tool bar and crop the image so you
eliminate the blank space fromthe edges of the frame. Once youre happy
with the crop, click the tick icon or hit OKand the crop will be complete.
Flatten the layers (Layer>Flatten image) and save your le.
Landscapeprojects 119 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Try shooting vertically (in portrait orientation)
rather than horizontally (in landscape
format). It means you take more shots to
cover the same area, but there is usually less
edge distortion and a better-looking result
120 Landscapeprojects TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Using the long end of a 70-300mmtelephoto zoom, I cropped in tight to
the church. However, cameras cant predict what effect the photographer
is looking for. As a result of using multi-zone metering, unwanted detail is
recorded in the church and foreground. The exposure of 1/2sec at f/11 is too
long and the sky is also 'washed out as a result.
Bold subjects work best when shooting silhouettes, together with a clean,
simple composition. This small church, perched on a tor, proved an ideal
subject. I opted for a lowviewpoint, allowing me to contrast the building
starkly against an uninterrupted sky. I positioned myself so I was shooting in
the general direction of the setting sun.
When shooting silhouettes, you will normally want to correctly meter for
the sky. By basing exposure on a reading froma bright region of the sky,
you ensure this will be correctly exposed, while everything else will be
underexposed or silhouetted. The best way to do this is to switch to the spot
metering pattern as this gives the most precise meter reading.
silhouettes, expect
histograms tobemore
biasedtotheleft of thegraph. While
normally youwouldtry toavoidhistograms
showingahighpercentageof pixels onthe
left; inthis instancethegraphis just
reectingthenatureof thetechnique.
As photographers, we are always striving for the perfect exposure,
arent we? However, inpractice, is there really sucha thing? Exposure
canbe manipulatedfor creative or artistic effect a technically correct
exposure wont always produce the most visually pleasing result. Take
silhouettes, for example. They are one of my favourite subjects, but
technically speaking, a silhouette is the result of poor exposure, withthe
subject being grossly underexposed. However, there is no denying that
they are capable of producing striking, eye-catching results.
Asilhouette is when a subject is captured as a black outline, devoid
of colour or detail. It is the most extreme formof backlighting and,
combined with a suitable scene or subject, results can be stunning.
Bold, easily identiable objects, like buildings and trees, work best
when photographing silhouetted landscapes particularly if they are
contrasted against a dramatic or colourful sky. They are best captured
early morning and late evening, when the position of the sun is lowin
the sky. By shooting toward the lights direction, objects between you
and the light source will be rendered as inky silhouettes. One of the
most appealing things about shooting silhouettes is that they are so
easy to achieve and you dont require additional kit. However, as you'll
soon see, there are a couple of functions on your DSLRthat can help
you to achieve great silhouettes.
Your digital cameras multi-zonemetering
systemis designedtorender subjects as a
mid-tone. Whileit proves accurateinthemajority
of situations, it canstrugglewhenphotographing
asceneor subject that is considerably lighter or
darker intone. Silhouettes areonesubject that
canfool meteringsystems. Althoughcameras
arehighly sophisticated, they cannot predict the
typeof effect youaretryingtoachieve. Therefore,
thecamerawill normally attempt torender
silhouettedsubjects as amid-tone, givingmore
exposurethanis required. This results inskies
beingoverexposedandunwanteddetail being
recordedinthesubject. Thankfully, achievingthe
correct exposurefor silhouettes is simpleenough
todoby switchingtospot metering. It calculates
theoverall exposurefromjust asmall portionof
theframeusually acentral circlecovering
around3%of theframe. Aimthe spot metering
sensor at abright areaof theframeandthen
press theshutter releasebuttonhalfway totakea
reading. Next, press theAuto-ExposureLock
(AE-L) buttontolock your newsettings.
Recomposeyour imageandreleasetheshutter.
Theresult shouldbeaperfect, inky silhouette. If
any detail remains, set anegativevalueviathe
exposurecompensationdial (start at -1 EV) to
Landscapeprojects 121 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Happy with my composition, I decided to
experiment with a ten-stop NDflter. With
the flter in place, exposure time was
artifcially lengthened to 30seconds.
During the exposure, the movement of the
cloud was recorded like artistic
brushstrokes. As the sun fnally set, some
colour radiated in the sky, giving my fnal
silhouette further mood and impact.
While the exposure was nowproven to be correct for capturing my
silhouette, the composition needed tweaking. Instead of flling the frame
with the church, I opted for a wider focal length. This allowed me to include
more sky and interesting cloud. The result looked more balanced, and showed
the church more in context with its environment.
I aimed the spot metering circle at a bright region of the sky. I half-depress
the shutter release button to take a newreading of 1/30sec at f/11 and
lock this setting by pressing the Auto Exposure Lock (AE-L) button. I place my
camera on a tripod and, using my newsettings, took another picture. The
result again proved correct to give a silhouette.
122 Landscapeprojects TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Having checked the forecast the night before, I arrived on location in the
Purbeck Hills in Dorset about 30minutes before sunrise. Athick fog had
formed in the valley overnight, and towards sunrise, this started to burn off,
revealing the shapes of trees and buildings in the mist. I set up my kit and
sought out a suitable composition.
The church steeple rising out of the mist seemed a natural focal point, so I
based my composition around this beautiful landmark. The bright tones of
the mist, however, fooled the camera's meter into slightly underexposing the
scene. Although detail would be recoverable in post-processing, I prefer to
'expose to the right' to maximise image quality.
To expose to the right, I applied two stops of exposure compensation,
which kept the bright tones in the main part of the picture, but resulted in
the bright sky blowing out, without all the detail being fully recoverable. You
can see frommy image that the sky is far too bright and, subsequently, ruins
the image. This problemwould need xing!
Autumn through to early winter is one of my favourite times for
landscape photography. The lowsun reveals texture in the landscape,
the clarity is better than in the summer and sunrise is at a more
humane hour, so there's a better chance that I'll get up for the magical
pre-dawn light. But an even greater attraction is the mist and fog
common this time of year. It can add a mystical, romantic atmosphere
to an otherwise ordinary scene, with the tops of trees and buildings
poking up through a layer of white lying at the bottomof a valley.
There are different types of fog and mist, but for this type of shot, the
one we're interested in is 'radiation fog'. Radiation fog is formed on
clear, still nights when the ground loses heat by radiation, and cools.
The ground in turn cools the nearby air to saturation point, thus
forming fog. This fog is often conned to lowground, so if you get up
on a hill you might nd you're able to shoot across a mist-lled valley.
Ideal conditions for this type of fog are light winds, clear skies and
long nights, so keep a close eye on the weather forecast and get up
early enough to nd a suitable spot before the mist dissipates.
camera's meter
assumes that what
it's lookingat is a
mid-tone (18%
grey), if thereis a
lot of whiteina
scene, as is thecase withmisty scenes,
this canfool even'intelligent' metering
patterns intounderexposingthescene, so
it's agoodideatoaddaround+1 stopof
exposurecompensation. Thetechniqueof
'exposingtotheright', i.e. pushingthe
exposureas close tooverexposureas you
canbut without actually clippingthe
highlights, has becomepopular inrecent
years andtheoretically shouldcreateale
withmoretonal informationandless noise.
If youusethis technique, youwill needto
Processing: Processingshots of misty
scenes canbealittledifferent from'normal'
scenes, whereyouwouldset theblack point
sothat it lines upwiththeleft sideof the
histogram. Images takeninfogor mist
rarely havetrueblacks, andhavealimited
contrast range, sotokeepthescenelooking
natural, youshouldset theblack point less
aggressively thanfor most other images.
In misty conditions, condensation can
formon your lens and/or lters, which can
ruin images. Keep a constant eye on the
front element and lters, and wipe them
down frequently with a micro-bre cloth
Landscapeprojects 123 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
I zoomed in a little closer and re-shot. Cropping out the bland sky tightens
up the composition nicely, but the mist has moved, revealing just a little bit
too much detail for my liking. I changed position slightly again, and waited for
a little more mist to drift into the scene and cover up some of the distracting
elements in the frame. After a little while, it all came together.
My fnal shot is packed
with atmosphere and the
mist helps give the image
a timeless quality.
I added a two-stop Neutral Density Graduate (0.6NDGrad) flter and took
the shot again. The addition of the flter allowed me to push the exposure
to keep the bright tones in the mist as well as retaining tone in the sky, but on
reviewing the image, I decided that as there was not much interest in the sky,
it would be necessary to tweak the composition.
Even with the waves intruding into the foreground area, there are still too
many dark tones, especially to the right of the frame, so I tweak the
composition, moving the camera's viewto the left. Nowit's just a case of
waiting for the light to drop further and the right waves to come in.
This isolated cove on the Purbeck coast is ideal for low-light seascapes,
with its jagged, rocky ledges and boulders on the foreshore. However,
with the sun only just belowthe horizon, the light is still a little harsh, and the
tide is too far out and would be too far away in the frame.
Spot meter readings fromthe foreground and the sky tells me that there
is a ve-stop difference in brightness between them. Athree-stop ND
grad brings it all within the camera's sensor range. Waiting a fewminutes
means the waves are nowwashing up onto the foreground.
WITHMARKBAUERSeascapes are a hard subject to resist
photographing, especially during a sunset when you can get
beautiful blue and purple hues from the sky and silky water
from a long exposure. When planning your shoot, remember
that location and composition are important elements to
determine the success of a seascape image. I try to pick places where
there are rocks, so the bold shapes and jagged edges contrast with the
softness of the water. Leave plenty of space around the static objects
too, to allow you to capture movement in the water. I try to shoot
low-light seascapes with an incoming tide, so that the waves wash
up around the foreground, adding brighter tones. If you shoot when
the tide is falling, you could end up with rocks being rendered as dark
masses in the foreground because there is not enough light to show
their wet, shiny surfaces. Getting the timing right for individual waves
is important too; time the exposure so that there is water movement in
the frame for at least some of the time the shutter is open.
Aswell asrisingearly, landscapeenthusiaststendtostay
out until thetwilight hourstocapturemoodanddrama
Most DSLRs allowyoutoset a
maximumexposuretimeof 30
seconds. YoucouldraisetheISO
tostick withinthis limit but, to
get thebest imagequality, stick
Bulbsetting, whichallows youto
keeptheshutter openfor as long
as youwant. Tocalculatehow
longthat shouldbe, in
aperture-priority mode, increase
theISOuntil youget ameter
reading. Thenwork out what the
equivalent exposureis at ISO
100, switchtoBulbandtake the
shot. For example, if at ISO400
thecorrect exposure is 30
seconds, theequivalent at ISO
100is twominutes. At dusk, light
levels dropsokeepchecking
andadjust accordingly.
124 Lighting TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Spotmetering NDfilter
Protect your equipment with a rain
cover. You can improvise by using a
freezer bag, or there are several
which are commercially available. I
favour the Optech Rainsleeve
theyre cheap, do the job well and
you can see all your camera settings
properly, which isnt true of some of
the more pricey alternatives.
The lowlight levels produce a lovely blue-purple in the sky and the sea.
This one's almost there but just needs a little more water washing up
on the right-hand side of the picture, to break up the dark tones and help to
balance out the foreground interest.
The incoming tide forces a change of position. By this time, the light is low
enough to allowa 45second exposure (ISO100and f/16) without having
to use an NDflter. Athree-stop grad is still necessary because there is no
direct light falling onto the land or sea, but the sky is lit frombelow.
Lighting 125 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
This has the same beautiful
hues and tones as the previous
shot, but just a little more water
adding interest to the foreground
and the right side of the picture.
126 Landscapeprojects
If you can, it helps to nd your
location in advance, in the daylight
hours. Mid-day is a good time to do
this for a couple of reasons. One is
that it's often dead-time in the
landscape photographer's day
when the light is too harsh for
shooting. The other is that, with the
sun to the south, shadows will point
north towards where the stars will
be circling round Polaris later.
Previsualising that will help you
create a good composition. You'll
need to ensure that you're a decent
way frommajor light pollution too.
SETTINGUPPick your night (a night with
a half-moon is a good choice if possible)
and set up the camera on the tripod. If it's too
dark to see properly through the viewnder,
you can take a fewshots with a high ISOand
wide aperture, gradually making adjustments
to ne-tune the composition. Autofocus is
unlikely to work in very lowlight, so you'll
need to focus manually either by using the
distance scale or by placing a torch
somewhere in the scene to focus on.
METERTHESCENEYou can meter the
scene before taking the nal shot by
taking test shots at a high ISOand wide
aperture. Imusing ISO1600and f/4here.
Set the camera to manual and start with an
exposure time of around 20seconds. Take a
shot and check the histogram, then simply
alter the exposure time and re-take test shots
until the histogramlooks correct. After a bit
of experimentation I nd that one stop
underexposed works best.
WITHJOHNPATRICKStar trails are rewarding subjects that can
add an element of magic to a landscape shot, revealing the scene
in a way that isnt visible to the eye. They allow you to extend the
days potential shooting time, and to get out with your camera
especially if you work through the week and cant get outdoors
during the daylight hours in winter. If theres any secret to the technique,
its getting the exposure right, but thats simple when shooting digitally...
If youreinaremotelocation, takeadvantageof clear night
skiesbyaiminghighandtryingtocapturestar trails
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
The glow
urban areas is known as
light pollution and can be seen from
away on a clear night. This m
ight not be
obvious to the naked eye but will show
clearly on a long exposure
Youll needto keepthe
shutter openfor the long
exposure andthe best
way to do that is to use a
remote release witha
lock to holdthe shutter
open. This helps
knocking or
moving the camera.
Asturdy tripodis
important too and
a wide-angle lens
is handy as it helps you
get plenty of sky inthe
shot. Other thanthat,
star trails dont need
any particularly
specialist kit. Dont
forget plenty of warm
clothing though. Evenif
youre usedto being out incold
weather, standing aroundfor half an
hour or more inthe dark insub-zero
temperatures canbring a whole new
level of chilliness, so pack a fewextra
layers to keepyoucomfortable.
Landscapeprojects 127
SettingSforthefinalShotWhen you're happy with the exposure,
set the camera to 'Bulb'. Select iSo100and set a wide aperture. i tend to
use f/5.6. nowyou can use the exposure time fromstep 3 to work out the time
needed for the fnal shot, compensating for the change in iSoand aperture by
increasing the time. for instance, if you needed a 30second exposure in step
3: 30secs x 2(for a one-stop change fromf/4to f/5.6) x 16(for the change
fromiSo1600to iSo100) gives a 16-minute exposure.
taketheShotturn all lights out, note the time and lock the shutter open
with the remote release. get out some coffee and chocolate, have a break
for a while and enjoy staring at the stars. Just don't do what i did and discover
at this point that the coffee's back down the road, still in the car!
if you need to put a light on at any point to read the time, be careful not to
illuminate the foreground at all, as it will showup in the fnal shot (unless
you're deliberately attempting light painting, but that's another topic).
i've given the fnal image a little
bit of curves adjustment, a
colour balance on the cool side
of daylight and applied some
Unsharp Mask in Photoshop.
3rdedition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Equipment 129 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
While there is little doubt that
square slot-inlter systems make
better sense inthe long runfor keen
photographers, whenstarting out,
screw-inlters are very tempting.
Without any doubt, the circular
polariser shouldbe topof the list,
as its by far the most useful for
shooting landscapes. Check out
lters fromHoya, KoodandJessops
There is a wide choice of entry-level
DSLRoutts available for
beginners, all pricedalong witha kit
lens (eg 18-55mm) around500.
DSLRkits that wedrecommend
include the following models:
CanonEOS1100D; NikonD3100;
Pentax K-r andSonys Alpha 390
As youll ndwhenyoureadour
reviewof tripods, the key factors to
consider whenchoosing a tripodis
weight andstability. Youll nd
several models available for under
150, whichprovide a very sturdy
support for your kit. As youspend
more, youndthat models provide
a couple of extra features but more
importantly, theyll weighfar less
While youshouldlook to keepyour
bag as light as possible, especially
if youare heading outdoors only for
a fewhours, there are still some
accessories that youshould
consider essential. These include
extra memory cards, a lens clothto
keepyour optics clean, a mapand
a mobile phone, for emergency use
shouldyouget lost or hurt
The gear options presentedto
newcomers to digital SLR
photography is nothing short of
intimidating. However, to get
started, all that is neededis a basic
outt made upof a camera and
standardzoom, a decent
budget-pricedtripod, one or two
screw-inlters anda small bag to
holdall this kit, along withsome
snacks, water, maps etc
If youre newto photography, its
very likely that youll only have a
modest outt made upof your
camera withkit lens (andpossibly
one other zoom), along witha few
other photo accessories, as well as
other essentials suchas clothing.
A50photo daypack withseparate
sections for kit andother items
shouldprove more thansuitable
Enthusiasts witha couple of years
experience under their belt will
most likely be looking to upgrade
fromanentry-level model to
something more durable and
sophisticated. Models to consider
include the CanonEOS550Dand
EOS600D, NikonD5000, Pentax
K-5andthe Sony Alpha 55.
Withthe early starts andlate
nishes andadventures that will
see yousit throughshowers,
storms andsunshine, youll needto
dress appropriately. Alight
waterproof jacket like this Paramo,
plus eece beneathandsensible
walking shoes, like Patagonias
Thatchers, are well worthinvesting
in. Headwear like this Berghaus
beanie hat is important, as is
keeping hands warmcheck out
Outdoor Designs mittengloves
The dedicatedphotographer is likely
to want to spendhours outdoors,
evenwhenweather conditions arent
good, so a well-made, waterproof
pack is essential. Andthe additional
kit means youneed extra capacity.
Backpacks werecommendchecking
out include the Lowepro Vertex
200AWandTamrac Expedition8
Anatural consequence of developing a
passionfor photography is wanting to
invest ina more sophisticatedDSLR,
better optics andmore accessories
like a light meter andremote release.
This means specialist lenses like a
wide-angle zoom, more lters, a better
tripodandmore accesories
While screw-inlters are ne if you
only have one lens, once youstart
adding lenses to your system,
whichmost likely have different
lter threadsizes, youll have to
choose betweenadditional screw-in
lters or a slot-insystem. The
latters the better choice, especially
as youll want to use NDgrads.
Check out Cokins Psystem, which
is affordable andvery goodquality
If youre looking to invest inyour
rst ever decent tripod, its worth
spending the extra ona lightweight
model made fromcarbon-bre.
While youmight think the few
hundredgrams youve savedin
weight arent worththe extra cost
now, once youve trekkedmiles
carrying your three-leggedbeast,
youll soonchange your mind
As youget more andmore into your
photography, youll ndyour outt
slowly expandas youbuy more and
more accessories. Aremote release will
prove useful whenshooting long
exposures, youmay want to protect
maps witha waterproof cover, suchas
the Aquamap, while a decent light meter
like Sekonics L-308s, may appeal too
While the 18-55mmkit lens does a
reasonable job, its time to upgrade
the optics to something better. An
ultra wide-angle zoomshouldbe
topof your list as they provide a
wider eld-of-viewandsharper
results. Youmight also want to
invest ina modestly-priced
telephoto zoomfor whenyouwant
to pick out details inthe scene
All pro landscape photographers a
decent set of slot-inlters. Most use
a 100mmsystem, whichare
suitable for use withwide-angle
lenses to avoidvignetting. Many use
Lee Filters (,
whichoffer anexcellent range of
superbquality lters, including ND
grads, colour grads andpolarisers
Have a quick chat about clothing
withany professional outdoor
photographer andyoure left inno
doubt as to the importance of
waterproof outers andlayers of
warm, breathable inners. Paramos
Cascada jacket is complemented
by its trousers, while warmgloves,
thick Berghaus eece andsocks by
Bridgedale andquality Berghaus
walking boots ensures comfortable
days shooting outdoors
Whenmost professional outdoor
photographers headout to shoot
landscapes, theyll spenda couple
of days at least onlocation, staying
at a local B&B, so will needto keep
everything they needinone big
pack. Therefore theyll usually own
a large backpack withexcellent
capacity (as well as protection),
suchas one fromthe Lowepro
Vertex or Tamrac Expeditionrange
After years of shooting for a hobby,
many enthusiasts ndthey start to
nda market for their images,
allowing themto class themselves
as a semi-pro. Others throw
themselves into a full-time career
as a professional photographer.
One thing thats commonfor all
photographers looking to make
money is a wishto invest intopkit
Aninevitable consequence of
starting to make money fromyour
photography is the needto
upgrade gear. For landscape pros,
that means investing ina full-frame
DSLRlike the CanonEOS5DMkII
or NikonD700. Larger sensors
reveal the inadequacies of budget
optics, so lenses will need
upgrading too
Its most likely that a prowill already
have investedina carbon-bre
tripodwhile they were a serious
enthusiast. Once theyve investedin
a pro DSLR, its possible they may
upgrade the headfor one witha
larger platformthat cansupport a
heavier DSLRandlens combo
Most pros will carry a back-up
DSLRincase their mainbody
develops a fault. As well as the
ultra-wide zoom, they usually have
a fast 70-200mmf/2.8zoomand
a macro lens for close-updetails.
Apersonal storage device allows
themto back-upimages, while a
laptopoffers the same functionality
as well as allowing post-processing
onthe go. Addlens andsensor
cleaning systems, spare batteries
andmemory cards andmaps and
theyre well preparedfor the job
The focal length stated on a lens relates to SLRs using 35mm lm and full-frame sensors. If
your camera has an APS-C-sized sensor (most have), then youre effectively cropping the image
and increasing the focal length of the lens (by 1.5x with Nikon, Pentax and Sony; 1.6x with
Canon). The chart below shows popular wide-angles and the change in effective focal length.
Focal length Sensor size Four-Thirds&
onlens Full-frame APS-H APS-C APS-C(Canon) MicroFour-Thirds
1x 1.3x 1.5x 1.6x 2x
8mm 8mm 10mm 12mm 13mm 16mm
14mm 14mm 18mm 21mm 22mm 28mm
15mm 15mm 19mm 22mm 23mm 30mm
20mm 20mm 26mm 30mm 32mm 40mm
24mm 24mm 31mm 36mm 38mm 48mm
28mm 28mm 36mm 42mm 45mm 56mm
10-17mm 10-17mm 13-22mm 15-25mm 16-27mm 20-34mm
10-20mm 10-20mm 13-26mm 15-30mm 16-32mm 20-40mm
10-22mm 10-22mm 13-29mm 15-33mm 16-35mm 20-44mm
11-18mm 11-18mm 14-23mm 16-27mm 18-29mm 22-36mm
12-24mm 12-24mm 16-31mm 18-36mm 19-38mm 24-48mm
16-35mm 16-35mm 21-45mm 24-53mm 26-56mm 32-70mm
17-35mm 17-35mm 22-45mm 25-53mm 27-56mm 34-70mm
17-40mm 17-40mm 22-52mm 25-60mm 27-56mm 34-80mm
If youre serious about landscape photography, the rst addition you should invest in is a decent
wide-angle lens. The exaggerated perspective and wide angle-of-view that these lenses gives
allows you to ll the frame with your scene and reveal an incredible amount of detail. When youre
confronted by a beautiful landscape, there is nothing like a wide-angle lens to ensure the whole
scene is recorded, from foreground interest through to distant subjects. Experienced landscape
photographers have learned how to use the way that wide-angle lenses stretch perspective to their
advantage to give images with strong foreground interest and incredible depth. Another reason why
wide-angles are wonderful choices for landscapes is because they have an apparent abundance
of depth-of-eld, even at mid-aperture settings, to produce images with an excellent amount of
sharpness. So, now youre sold on wide-angle lenses, youll need to decide which type is best for you.
136 Equipment TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Equipment 137 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
138 Equipment
If your DSLR was supplied with a standard zoom kit lens, such as an
18-55mm, then youll already have a lens that is capable of shooting
decent wide-angle images. However, its capabilities are restricted, as its
eld-of-view is not wide enough to really make the most of landscape
photography, so while its a good enough choice to get started with,
you should add a better wide-angle at your rst opportunity. Youll be
presented with two main options: a xed wide-angle lens or a wide-angle
zoom. If you want the absolute sharpest possible results, then in theory
you want a prime lens, with a 15mm being the best choice if your DSLR
has an APS-C sensor, or a 20mm or 24mm if you use a full-frame model.
While marque lenses offer the ultimate optical performance, theyre very
expensive and your choice is very limited. If your DSLR uses the smaller
APS-C sized sensor, wed strongly recommend that you steer clear of xed
lenses and instead go for an ultra wide-angle zoom, as you have far more
choice, theyre relatively affordable and they deliver excellent quality.
Advances in optical technology saw the development of high-quality
ultra-wide zooms in the late 90s and the arrival of DSLRs has seen
this group of lenses become increasingly popular. Thats no surprise
as the range they cover offers incredible versatility in such a small and
inexpensive lens. In fact, the ultra wide-angle zoom is arguably one of
the best value lenses you could own. There is a variety of focal lengths
available, with those around 11-22mm being the most suitable for DSLRs
with an APS-C sized sensor. In truth, all cover a very similar range,
although there are one or two exceptions to note. The Pentax 10-17mm
sh-eye offers a 180 angle-of-view at its widest end, so in a sense youre
getting a sh-eye and ultra-wide zoom rolled into one. Its also worth
noting that, unlike most ultra-wide zooms, the Sigma 12-24mm can be
used on full-frame and APS-C SLRs. Finally, while 16-35mm lenses are
popular with lm and full-frame DSLR users, the effective focal length of
24-53mm (26-56mm on a Canon) it covers when used with an APS-C
sensor is quite limited, so wed suggest you avoid it.
So which wide-angle lens should you buy? Theres little doubt that
zooms represent superb value for money and youre spoilt for choice as
there arent any poor performers in this category. Here we recommend
our favourite zooms, all of which will deliver great quality results. While
primes offer the ultimate in quality, zooms are better value and deliver
excellent results. Weve stated average street prices at time of publication.
16elements in13groups
APERTURERANGE: f/2.8tof/22
DIMENSIONS: 87x109mm
WEIGHT: 600g
FITTINGS: Canon, Nikon
This is analmost legendary lens
for connoisseurs that has only
recently become available in
Canon, NikonandPentax ttings.
It is manual focus only, witha
smoothfocusing actionandit
uses a manual aperture ring. The
depth-of-eldscale is clear and
allows for accurate depth-of-eld
calculations. This is anexpensive
lens but boasts anexceptional
optical performance, resolving an
amazing amount of detail. The
ultimate choice for quality.
13elements intengroups
APERTURERANGE: f/1.4tof/22
DIMENSIONS: 93.5x 86.9mm
WEIGHT: 650g
FITTINGS: Canononly
This newadditiontothe Canon
range is designedfor prouse, as its
price tag suggests. As well as
offeringanextremely fast aperture,
it boasts weather anddust seals to
protect it fromthe elements.
Optical quality is superb, thanks to
the aspherical andUDglass
elements, whichensure image
sharpness is crispthroughout the
frame. Adreamlens for those that
canaffordit, but the Zeiss 21mm
f/2.8Distagon, while manual
focus, offers a superior optical
performance tothe Canon.
When youre choosing a
lens, check to see if its
for use with lm/
full-frame and digital
SLRs, or for DSLRs only.
Those made for lmand
digital are usually more
expensive; those
designed exclusively for
DSLRs are optically
optimised for digital.
Therefore, if youre
using a DSLRwith the
smaller APS-Csensor
and never plan to buy a
full-frame DSLR, go for
for a digital-only lens.
Simpler optical designgenerally means
sharper results withbetter contrast
Fast maximumaperture gives brighter
viewnder andbetter low-light capabilities
Smaller andmore compact thana zoom
Most have a smaller lter thread
Limited to one focal length
Relatively expensive
Covers several focal lengths, so youre
spoilt for wide-angle versatility
At its wide end, it offers far better
coverage thana xedlens
Most zooms are optically excellent
Lots of exibility at a very goodprice
Not as sharp as a xed lens, especially
towards the edges and corners of the frame
Suffers frommore distortion
Maximumaperture isnt as fast as xed lens
Most have a larger lter thread, so
screw-in lters are more expensive
Its the age-oldquestionwhy buy a xedlens
withonly one focal lengthwhena zoomoffers
so muchmore versatility? Well, heres why...
Ultra wide-angles come
suppliedwitha dedicatedhood
toavoidvignetting andare.
ELEMENTThe front element
normally has a prominent
curve, leaving it exposedto
dust andscratches, sotake
care tokeepit clean.
Normally towards thefront of the
lens andreasonably wide. Youll
rarely needtouseit, as wide-angle
lenses haveexcellent AF.
4) ZOOMRINGThese are normally
foundtowards the back of the barrel.
Most are wide witha grooved
surface toallowyoutogripit easily.
Many lenses have the focus distance
scale markedonthe barrel, while
some of the more upmarket models
have a focus distance window.
(see inset) This scale allows you
toestimate howmuchof the scene
will appear sharpthanks tothe
depth-of-eldcreatedby the
choice of aperture that youset.
If youre planning touse lters,
lenses withaninternal focusing
systemoffer the benet that the
front of the lens doesnt rotate
whenfocusing, soyoudont have
tokeepreadjusting them.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Equipment 139
14elements intengroups
APERTURERANGE: f/1.8tof/22
DIMENSIONS: 83.5x 81mm
WEIGHT: 470g
FITTINGS: Canon, Nikon,
Pentax, Sigma andSony
Areal favourite withlandscape
lovers thanks toits compact
designandsharpoptics. Like all
Sigma EXlenses, its very nicely
put together andit feels andlooks
the part. The barrel sports wide
zoomandmanual focus rings,
bothof whichhave a smooth
action. Optics deliver high
sharpness andonly slight
evidence of distortionor
aberration. Its a better choice
thanthe newer f/3.5version.
11 elements insevengroups
DIMENSIONS: 82.5x 90mm
WEIGHT: 485g
FITTINGS: Nikononly
This excellent zoom, for DSLRs
withAPS-C-sensors only, is
compact considering the f/4
maximumaperture. Its partly
made of plastic but feels well
made. The zoomring is wide and
the focusing ring is adequate with
bothoffering a smoothaction. The
barrel sports a focusing window
andinternal focusing. Image
quality is very high, delivering very
sharpresults throughout the
range. Chromatic aberrationand
are is barely noticeable but slight
barrel distortionis evident.
12elements innine groups
DIMENSIONS: 83.5x 96.8mm
WEIGHT: 475g
FITTINGS: Canononly
The CanonL-series lenses offer
higher thannormal performance,
sothis zoom, withits constant f/4
aperture, is one of the most
popular optics inthe Canon
stable. Suitable for use withall
EOSmodels, its larger thanmost
but robustly built, withgreat
handling andfast AF. Optics are
excellent, althoughwithfull-frame
sensors edge detail becomes a
little soft. Its a great lens, although
the EF-S10-22mmis a better
choice for those withDSLRs
boasting anAPS-Csensor.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
Nine elements insix groups
APERTURERANGE: f/3.5tof/22
DIMENSIONS: 63x28.8mm
WEIGHT: 205g
FITTINGS: NikonandPentax
This is one of the most affordable
prime lenses onthe market and
alsoone of the smallest and
lightest, as well as being manual
focus only. This last point generally
isnt anissue for landscape
photographers, The manual focus
actionis smoothandthe barrel
boasts a clear hyperfocal scale
that makes achieving a good
depth-of-elda breeze, as well as
anaperture ring. Optically, this
lens is a very goodperformer with
excellent sharpness once stopped
down. Agreat budget prime lens. 475
850 700
12elements innine groups
APERTURE: f/3.5-4.5tof/22
DIMENSIONS: 83.2x 86.5mm
WEIGHT: 406g
FITTINGS: Canon, Nikon,
Pentax andSony
Tamrons 11-18mmzoomhas
beena popular choice for years
but this recent addition, withits
extremely wide focal length
range, brings evenmore
versatility towide-angle fans.
Its a compact andlightweight
optionwithgoodhandling andan
internal focusing systemthat will
please lter users. Optical quality
is very good, thanks tothe
inclusionof aspherical andLD
(LowDispersion) elements and
enhancedmulti-coatings. 450
15elements in11 groups
APERTURE: f/4.5-5.6tof/22
DIMENSIONS: 75x105.7mm
WEIGHT: 545g
FITTINGS: Canon, Nikon, Pentax,
Sigma &Sony
Withaneffective focal lengthof
Canon), the Sigma provides
wide-angle opportunities not
previously available for APS-C
DSLRs. Buildquality is excellent
andAF is fast andresponsive. Its
most impressive aspect is the
optics. It boasts four elements in
FLD(F LowDispersion) glass
andthree aspherical elements
anddelivers very sharpresults.
Aversatile, highquality zoom. 590
withAdAmburtonWide-angles are
the lens of choice for the vast majority of
landscape photographers and for very good
reason. These lenses allow you to squeeze as
much of a location into your viewfnder as is
possible and capture a scene absolutely brimming with
details and interest.
This can work to the advantage of the landscape
photographer, particularly when using wide-angles to
include foreground subject matter. Interesting foreground
subjects will spring to life when captured with a wide-
angle lens, quite literally grabbing the viewers attention
and pulling them in to explore the rest of the picture.
Using wide-angle zooms can be so addictive that you
automatically zoom out to the widest setting at every
opportunity. But this can have its problems too. Such
lenses can be set so wide as to sometimes show up the
corners of your equipment (lenses, flters and holders) in
the frame; this is known as vignetting. Another problem
with using extreme wide-angle lenses is barrel distortion,
which shows up in the form of bendy horizons and
buildings leaning over.
All this can be avoided by training yourself to set your
wide-angle according to your subject matter. If shooting
over water, then setting the focal length a few mms up
from the widest setting will reduce the chances of a
bendy horizon. But when shooting mountainous terrain
with an already uneven horizon, you can get away with
shooting as wide as possible.
As well as focal length, pay attention to the height and
the angle from vertical at which you have the camera set
up. Trees will lean over when composed from low to the
ground, so try setting the camera at head height and you
may notice a big difference.
The benefts of a wide-angle lens far outweigh these
issues. The impact a wide-angle can bring to your
photographs is astounding and is the reason why most
landscape photographers couldnt shoot without them.
AboVE: ChooSEYourFormAt
my frst image was taken in a
horizontal format. it may seem
natural to shoot landscapes in this
orientation, but wide-angle shots
can work better when composed
vertically. this allows more room
for large foreground details while
still including lots of sky.
FArLEFt: dontGotoowidE
if you go to the widest end of your
zoom, you can suffer not only from
barrel distortion, but also
vignetting. barrel distortion will
mean that a horizon in the top half
of the frame will curve downwards,
especially noticeable if you are
shooting seascapes. when you
notice dark areas appear in the
corners of your frame, you are
suffering froma spot of vignetting!
the wider your focal length the
greater chance that the camera
will include parts of your kit
(e.g. flter holders). both these
problems can be avoided by not
taking your lens to its absolute
widest setting.
LEFt: GoLowthe scene could do
with something to focus attention
on the rockpool. its common for
many photographers to shoot with
the tripod legs fully extended. but
a viewpoint closer to the ground
dramatically increases the impact
of the foreground subject matter
and can provide for a more
dynamic composition.
140 Equipment:Wide-anglelenstechnique
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Wide-angle landscapes are
at their most effective when
some interesting foreground
is featured up close to pull
the viewer in to the rest of
the scene. Dont be afraid
to compose so that your
foreground is big and bold!
You shouldnt have a problem
the entire scene is sharp. Set aperture-
priority, use a small aperture like f/16,
focus a third of the way into the scene.
Make sure to set your DSLRon a tripod
142 Equipment:Telezooms
withmarkbauer Technically speaking, telephoto lenses
dont compress perspective, but practically speaking, you
do get a different feeling of perspective from a telephoto shot
than from a scene captured with a wide-angle lens. Wide-angle
lenses seem to open up perspective and create a sense of
depth, because nearby objects appear big, and further objects appear to
be very small, suggesting distance. Added to this is the fact that wide-
angle lenses create strong diagonals, which enhance the sense of depth
(if arranged carefully within the frame). On the other hand, telephotos
make distant objects appear larger, apparently compressing the planes of
the image and therefore reducing the impression of depth. Lines tend not
to stretch into diagonals, and parallels remain parallel, which increases the
two-dimensional feel. Compared to a wide-angle view, this all adds up to
an image that has a more static feel. And of course, the longer the lens, the
greater the effect. So what kind of images beneft from the compression
effects of longer lenses? The static character of telephoto images suits
tranquil scenes, so hilly landscapes are ideal, especially where there are
several planes or layers that can be visually pulled together, so that they
appear to be almost stacked on top of each other. The feeling of tranquillity
can be enhanced by early morning mist, with the tops of the hills rising
above a sea of mist. More dramatic images can be created in the right
lighting conditions look for alternating bands of light and dark, creating
a layering of light. Urban landscapes also work well, as you can use
compression to juxtapose elements or to suggest a crowded environment.
Photographersoftentalkabout usingatelephoto
tocompressperspective, but what doesit mean?
50mm 75mm
There is no argument that landscape
photographers should place a decent
wide-angle lens (be it prime or zoom) at
the top of their wishlist. However, thats
not to say that there shouldnt be a little
room allocated in the gadget bag for a
telezoom. While youll predominantly be
flling the frame with wide-angle vistas,
youll also fnd times when a telephoto
can prove useful. This will usually be
when you want to isolate a specifc area
or feature within the scene or when you
want to create a layering effect through
perspective compression (see below). There
are a variety of telephoto zooms available but
wed recommend you opt for a focal length
of around 55-200mm if you use a DSLR with
an APS-C-sized sensor, or a 70-300mm or
similar zoom if you have a full-frame DSLR.
Youll fnd the Tamron 55-200mm f/4-5.6 DiII in
particular to be very good value for money, along
with Sigmas 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG zoom. Both these types of
telezooms are also great lenses to have available to fll the frame
with any wildlife you may encounter as you roam the countryside.
The apparent
distance between
the foreground and
castle creates a
sense of depth,
with the hills and
village behind the
castle stretching
away into the
Even at moderate
telephoto settings,
the perspective
seems much atter,
and the castle
seems to loomover
the distant hills and
the village.
As the focal length
perspective seems
to atten out, so
that the castle and
the hills behind
seemto be almost
in the same plane.
120mm 200mm
While telephotos appear to compress
perspective, the truth is that they dont.
Magnify an area of a shot taken with a
wide-angle lens and youll see that it
gives a virtually identical effect!
144 Gear:Filters TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Eveninthedigital age, theyhavetheirplaceineverylandscapephotographerskitbag. Weexplainthemain
typesof fltersystems, ourrecommendedfltertypesandthemajorbrandstoconsider...
THe worTHof filTers, nowthat we
have Photoshop, is a topic that still
divides opinion amongst amateur
photographers. But for those that like to
get it right in-camera, flters are still
invaluable tools, in particular with
outdoor photographers.
while some flters can give an image
a colour cast, other popular types are
neutral in tone and instead enable
photographers to balance bright and
dark areas of a scene, or have more
scope for their choice of apertures and
shutter speeds. There are many
different uses for flters to suit all types
of photography but in this guide, we
help you decide which type of flter, as
well as what flter system, is the best
choice for landscape photography.
filters come in two main types:
screw-in, which attach directly to the
flter thread at the front of your lens
barrel; and slot-in, which slip into a
holder held in place on the front of your
lens by adapter rings screwed on to the
flter thread. Both have their pros and
cons, which you should consider before
deciding which to buy. As youll no
doubt discover as you read on, a
combination of both types is often the
best solution for most photographers.
These are quick andeasy to attach
andremove fromyour lens, so are a
very convenient choice. As theyre
made fromglass, they are of high
optical quality andmore diffcult to
scratch. screw-in flters come in
various sizes, with 52mmto 77mm
being the most common. if you own
a number of lenses, each with
different flter threads, you will either
needa flter in each size or take the
more affordable option of a stepping ring (see tipbelow).
Another negative point worth considering is that gradflters
arent well suitedfor use as a screw-in, which will be off-putting
for landscape photographers in particular. You also needto take
care when using more than one screw-in flter at a time, as you
run the risk of vignetting (darkening at the image corners),
especially with wide-angle lenses. Another disadvantage is that
occasionally you may fnda flter wont budge, in which case
youll needa flter clampto helpremove it.
Acheaper option than buying the same type of
flter in various sizes is to buy the largest size
you needanda step-down ring, which allows
you to ft a large flter on a smaller thread. for
instance, if you have a 72mmflter andbuy a
72-67 ring, you can screwthe flter to the ring,
which attaches easily to the lens. Dont go for a
step-upring for attaching smaller flters to
larger lenses, as these can cause vignetting.
with these systems, you only needto
buy one flter even if you have several
lenses of different sizes. This is
because the flter slips into a holder,
which attaches to the lens via an
adapter ring. so, insteadof needing
costly screw-ins in various sizes, you
can simply buy affordable adapter
rings in the sizes you needandswap
the holder between them. it does
mean the initial investment is higher
but over time, it proves to be a far more economical, especially
if you have several lenses. Youll fndthere are an extensive
range of flters available, in particular graduates, which are
among the most popular types of flter for landscapes. Unlike
screw-in flters, slot-in flters are made fromoptical resin, which
is incredibly tough andlighter than glass, although more prone
to scratches. optically, they offer excellent quality, with little
discernible quality to screw-ins. for the ultimate quality, look at
pro-brands like lee filters, which use the very best materials.
Youll fndmost brands make more
than one size of slot-in systemto suit
different types of Dslrs. The standard
size is 67mmbut if you have wide-
angle lenses, wedrecommendyou
consider the 85mmor 100mm
formats. Note that as these sizes are
standard, similarly sizedholders will
accept flters fromother brands.
Gear:Filters 145 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
On bright days when the sun
is high in the sky andnot
particularly suitable for
landscape photography,
many photographers turn
their attention to shooting
details in the scenery. Close-uplters are
useful if you dont own a macro lens and
want to shoot small objects at high
These arent essential lters,
but are very useful. ANeutral
Density lter is grey in colour
anddoesn't alter the colour
balance of an image but
insteadreduces the amount
of light passing through to the lens. They
are mainly usedin bright sunlight, when
you needto use a wide aperture to
minimise depth-of-eld, or a slower
shutter speedto emphasise movement.
Thereareliterallyhundredsof different typesof lter available, but our shortlist
belowhighlightsthosethat will provemost benecial toyour photography
These are essentially clear
glass lters that protect the
front element of your lens
fromdust, marks anddamage.
The UVlter also aids in the
removal of haze but all three are more or
less the same. Wedrecommendyou
attach one to each of your lenses.
Graduates have a dark area
that fades to clear andare
usedto balance bright sky
with a darker foreground.
Theyre available in a variety
of colours, but wedsay the
only gradto buy at rst is the ND(Neutral
Density) graduate. These have a gradual
NDeffect that does not change the colour
balance of the sky, but allows detail to be
recordedin the scene. NDgrads are
available in various densities, with the
0.6NDgradbeing a goodrst choice.
Youll ndthat there are soft- or hard-
edgedvariants too, relating to howthe
gradeffect falls off wedsuggest you
begin with a soft-edgedgrad.
NDlter factors: This table explains the
relationshipbetweenexposures andlter
factors. Light loss is statedinstops.
Density Filter factor Light loss
0.3 2x 1
0.6 4x 2
0.9 8x 3
1.2 16x 4
If you shoot outdoors
regularly, buy a polarising
lter. It saturates colours, in
particular blue sky, as well as
minimising glare and
reections fromshiny
surfaces like foliage or water.
The effect of a polariser cant be replicated
accurately in Photoshop, which is why
most landscape photographers never
leave home without one. Avoidlinear
polarisers you needa circular polariser;
otherwise your camera wont meter
correctly. Polarisers have a lter factor of
4x andreduces the exposure by two stops,
so watch out for camera shake. While one
of the most expensive types of lter,
they're denitely worth the investment.
UV Polariser ND
52mm 32 68 22
55mm 32 77 25
58mm 35 79 25
62mm 38 83 28
67mm 45 99 35
72mm 53 114 40
77mm 70 129 55
52mm 16 35 26
55mm 18 40 30
58mm 20 45 35
62mm 27 50 35
67mm 34 55 40
72mm 40 60 55
77mm 45 65 65
52mm 15 32 -
55mm 16 34 -
58mm 20 38 -
62mm 20 44 -
67mm 26 52 -
72mm 32 54 -
77mm 36 62 -
52mm 8 18 12
55mm 8 21 13
58mm 8 22 15
62mm 9 30 15
67mm 9 30 19
72mm 10 36 28
77mm 12 38 29
52mm 12 30 23
55mm 12 30 25
58mm 15 35 30
62mm 15 40 30
67mm 18 45 35
72mm 25 55 50
77mm 25 60 50
Guidepricesfor popular brands
1) Screwin the appropriate adapter ring
2) Attach the holder to the ring
3) Slide the lter into the holder
2 1
This prestigious German brand is
renowned for producing screw-in
flters with optimumquality, both in
terms of the metal flter ring and the
manufacturing process behind its
premium, optical glass. Its a very
popular brand with pros but it does
cost around twice as much as other
brands. If you need the ultimate in
quality froma screw-in flter, then B+W
is the option for you, otherwise, Hoya
is a great choice. One string in its bow
is the ten-stop NDflter, which has
proven incredibly popular for daytime
long-exposure photography.
Hoya produces around 60 percent of
the worlds optical glass, so you can be
assured it offers excellent quality and
value. Hoya offers the most extensive
range of any screw-in flter system,
with literally every type of flter you can
imagine. Whats more, for popular
types of flter such as polariser or UV,
it has a number of options to suit all
levels of photographer fromamateur
through to pro. Its flters boast several
cutting edge technologies, for instance
the HDseries boasts hardened glass
and several layers of multi-coating to
improve contrast and reduce fare,
while the Pro 1 Digital series have been
exclusively designed for use with
digital cameras. The extensive Super
HMCseries covers the majority of flter
types and provides fantastic quality at
a great price. Its worth downloading
Hoyas flter brochure to get a better
idea of the full range of flters on offer.
Lee Filters is the ultimate choice for
the discerning photographer. Loved by
pros and relished by enthusiasts, Lee
Filters are as good as it gets in terms of
optical quality, but due to the stringent
manufacturing processes involved,
expect it to command high prices. Its
brilliant 100mmsystemis the
cornerstone of its success, with a high
quality and versatile holder that can be
made to your own specifcation to hold
varying numbers of flters. The flters
themselves are brilliant quality and are
manufactured froma number of
materials, including glass, resin and
polyester. Various kits are available and
wed recommend the 187 Digital
Starter kit, which comprises of an
assembled holder, 0.6NDProGlass ND
hard grad, 0.6 NDand cleaning cloth,
all packed neatly into a pouch. The
other kit is the 132 Starter kit, which
includes an assembled flter holder,
0.6NDgrad, cleaning cloth, Coral 3
grad and pouch. Its ten-stop 'Big
Stopper' ND(around 100) is the best
on the market. Adaptor rings from
49mmto 77mmcost 17, 82mmand
86mmare 36 while 93mm, 95mm
and 105mmrings are 52. The flter
holder (the Foundation kit) is 50.
If you intend making a living from
photography and investing in
expensive lenses, then these are the
flters you should aspire to own.
For many photographers over the
decades, the search for high-quality
and affordable slot-in flters started
and ended with Cokin. This isnt a
surprise, because this manufacturer
was the innovator of creative flters for
amateur photographers and has led
the way ever since. Cokin offers four
flter sizes as follows: 67mm(A-series);
84mm(P-series); 100mm(Z-Pro) and
130mm(X-Pro) . The A-series is aimed
more for use with compacts or
camcorders, so the P-series is the best
introductory option. If you use
wide-angle lenses with a focal length
wider than 28mm, you should
consider the Z-Pro range, while the
X-Pro is more for medium-format
photographers. All the ranges offer
plenty of options but the P-series has
everything the DSLRphotographer
may ever need, with over 140 flters to
choose from, including polarisers and
a variety of NDgrads. Filter rings are
available for threads up to 82mmand
the P-holder accepts up to three flters
at a time. The Z-Pro series is a better
choice for landscape photographers in
particular those with ultra-wide
zooms. Adaptor rings are available
from49mmto 96mmand flters are
100mmsquare, except for the grads
which are 100x150mm.
All the flters are made fromCR39
optical resin and deliver high-quality
results and because its such a popular
range, flters are very well priced. The
NDGrad Kit for the P-series is
affordable at 50 and consists of a
Cokin Pflter holder, one P121L ND2
Light Grad, one P121MND4 Grad and
one P121S ND8 Soft Grad flter. The
Cokin P164 circular polariser is around
80 while for the Z-Pro, youre looking
at around 275 for the Z164!
Adapter rings cost as follows:
A-series: 8; P-series: 11; X-Pro: 52
and Z-Pro: 22.
There arent too many brands of flter but the choice they offer can
be confusing. Weve highlighted the tried and tested flter brands
that offer great value as well as high-quality products
Its range of screw-in flters may be
limited to 21 protection and polarising
flters, but with prices starting at 15
for a 52mmSkylight or UV, its a good
place to start your flter collection.
Theyre well made too, so you wont
have to worry about quality. Most
flters are kept in stock in-store as well
as being available for home delivery.
146 Gear:Filters TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Kood has its own range of lters, with
screw-in lters imported fromJapan
and slot-in lters manufactured in the
UK. The range of screw-in lters isnt
too large but includes polarisers,
protection and close-up lters, as well
as various special effect items such as
starburst and colour correction lters.
Kood also has a good range of
stepping rings too. Kood offers four
sizes of slot-in lters: 67mm, 84mm,
100mmand 130mm, so its lters are
compatible with all the major slot-in
brands. Made fromCR39 optical resin,
they offer decent quality and are a
good budget buy. Kood isnt available
fromall high street outlets, so visit its
website for your nearest stockist. Kood
Circular Polariser and NDgrad in sizes
84mmto 130mmcost between 20
and 30 and can be purchased from
Kood direct as well as a number of
camera dealers.
Formatt makes a range of lters for
movies and stills photography. Its
Hitech lters are aimed specically at
digital SLRphotographers, made from
optical resin and are manufactured in
the UKto extremely high standards to
provide excellent optical quality. The
67mm, 85mmand 100mmlter
systems are compatible with other
slot-in brands and include an extensive
range of graduates. As well as hard-
and soft-edged NDgrads (from
0.3-1.2), it offers a huge choice of
colour grads, as well as the Blender,
which graduates the effect through the
entire length of the lter. Hitech isnt as
well known or as widely available as
Cokin, but is a good alternative. An ND
grad kit with 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 NDgrads
costs 30 (85mm); 65 (100mm) and
85 (100x150mm). The circular
polariser costs 106 (85mm) or 110
(100mm). Aplastic holder costs under
10 and plastic adaptor rings costs
around 5 from49mmto 77mm.
Tiffen is an American brand that has
been around for decades and is
particularly popular in the movies
industry. Its range of screw-in lters
isnt as comprehensive as Hoyas, but
it does cover all the key types
including protection lters, polarisers
and Neutral Density lters. It also has
a number of special effect lters, in
particular lots of diffusion lters
including soft-focus, mist and fog, but
these arent lters youd use on a
regular basis. While the range is
relatively small, quality is high and
Tiffen lters come with a ten-year
guarantee. Youll also nd that prices
are competitive too, making thema
decent alternative to brands like Hoya,
although the latter is more likely to be
stocked by your local photo dealer.
Do not underestimate
howlters can be used to
improve your images,
especially if you're keen
on shooting landscapes.
Search the web and youll nd lters
fromlittle known brands like Helios. Most
stemfromChina and as there are no
ofcial UKimporters, its hard to qualify
howgood the optical quality will be
148 Equipment:Tripods
FOR LANDSCAPES, A TRIPOD should be viewed as an essential part of
your outt. Youll usually be using a small aperture setting to maximise
depth-of-eld, along with a low ISO rating to give the highest quality
results, which will result in long shutter speeds. Hand-holding might be
feasible with some shots but with a tripod you never need to worry about
the shakes. Youll also nd that by placing the camera on a support, you
can spend more time and attention on ne-tuning the framing of the
scene to get the best possible composition.
Youll nd a huge variety of tripods on offer, so choosing one isnt
straightforward, but there are two key factors to consider. The rst is
stability while cheaper models may be tempting, the fact is if a tripod
doesnt provide a stable platform, it fails. So ensure you pick a model
that is sturdy enough to keep your camera kit totally still when shooting.
The second factor to think about is how much a tripod weighs, which
is important as youll be carrying it, along with the rest of your gear, for
considerable distances. Most tripods are made from aluminium, which
is very sturdy and fairly lightweight, although youre looking at tripods
weighing around 2kg or more for decent models. If you want a tripod thats
just as sturdy but far lighter, youll want to check out tripods made from
carbon-bre, although youll have to be prepared to pay a premium for one.
The selection of tripods recommended here have all received the
highest ratings in Digital SLR Photography magazine. Weve chosen
examples that cover various price ranges to ensure you nd a model that
suits your budget. Bear in mind that with the more expensive models, you
buy the tripod and the head separately, so you can mix and match to suit
your needs. Weve stated average street prices at time of publication.
1) HEADThere are various
types of tripodhead
available, fromball and
socket tothree-way panand
tilt. Some have
interchangeable heads. We
have testedall the tripods
here withthree-way panand
tilt heads, whichare the
most popular for general use.
Whenchoosing a tripod,
attachyour DSLRsecurely
andensure the headis free
These allowyoutoquickly
DSLRto/fromthe tripod.
All of the tripods inthis
reviewhave one.
3) LEGLOCKSMost of the
tripods inthis test feature
clip locks, whichare easy to
use andprovide a rmlock.
withthree leg sections or
less tendtobe the most
sturdy, as the more sections
youhave, the less stable they
for landscape photography in
particular, many tripods
feature built-inspirit levels,
but if not, youyour local
photostore shouldsell one
that slots ontoyour hotshoe.
6) BAGHOOKSome tripods
have hooks onthe central
column, fromwhicha bag
canbe hung, using its weight
toaddstability tothe tripod
inwindy conditions.
7) TRIPODFEETSpikes are
goodfor gripoutdoors but
will scratchooring. Rubber
feet offer goodgripindoors
andoutside andare the best
choice for general use.
TYPEOF HEAD: Three-way panandtilt
WEIGHT: 2.1kg
The Giottos has very solidaluminiumlegs withfoam
insulators, tokeep hands fromfreezing tothemon
colddays. The nuts andlocks are a combinationof
plastic anddie-cast aluminium, andare as solidas
couldbe hopedfor at this price. The three-way headis
easily controllable andfeatures three spirit levels in
additiontothe one onthe legs, sotheres noexcuse for
wonky horizons! It has a lockable rotational central
column, whichcanbe removedandre-inserted
horizontally or invertedfor macroor copy work. The
tripodis very sturdy for the price, andcomes withits
owntool kit incase youneedtomake any adjustments.
There is alsoa hiddenbag hook underneaththe central
column. The MTL9351Bhadabsolutely noproblems
coping withour test camera (NikonD80) andwould
provide a very suitable platformonwhichthe amateur
landscaper couldmount his DSLR.
WEIGHT: 3.3kg
The buildquality of the Giottos is very good. Its heavy,
but very solid. The thick aluminiumlegs offer good
stability, eveninstrong winds. The joints andlocks are
built toa highquality, andcome witha tool kit should
they needadjusting. At its maximumheight withthe
central columnextended, it still feels stable, andkept
our test camera very steady. The tripodhas rubber
feet, whichare slightly pointy, making it perfect for
beaches andelds, but it takes a bit longer to
stabilise ontarmac or hardsurfaces; althoughonce it
is set up, it is perfectly steady. The central columncan
be removedandreplacedhorizontally, which, when
combinedwiththe three-positionlockable legs (and
they openreally wide), allows the camera toget down
really lowfor macrowork. Withthis headtted, there
are three spirit levels tokeepyour shots straight, and
panning is a breeze. There is alsoa bag hook.
Most high-endtripods arent suppliedwitha
head. This allows users tochoose their
preferredlegs anda specialist or
general-purpose head. The twomost
commontypes of heads are as follows:
Ball and socket: These range fromvery
simple heads withone control tocomplex
units withpanoramic locks andgauges,
grip-locks, andhydraulic ball-locking systems.
Usually stronger andquicker toadjust than
panandtilt heads, they allowfree movement
inall directions. Slipping usedtobe a
problem, not somuchnow, though.
Three-way heads: Commonly available as
panandtilt heads, these are goodfor
precisionwork like macrophotography, but
are great for all types of photography. Panning
gauges, showing the shooting angle, are
useful for panoramic shots, althoughthere are
specialisedheads made for this too. Fluid
heads have the smoothest panning motion,
making themideal for sports photographers.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Equipment:Tripods 149
WEIGHT: 2.25kg
This aluminiumtripodfromManfrottois one of the
lightest inthis price category. The legs are very sturdy
andsupports the camera perfectly well inall positions.
The iplocks are easy toopenandclose andvery
secure, andthere are vari-positionlocks tokeepthe
legs secure at different settings. Perhaps the most
interesting feature of the legs, is that the central
columncanbe switchedtohorizontal position, for
macroshots, without removing it fromthe legs. This is
anexcellent feature, as it makes the process very easy
andfast tocarry out. The headis very versatile, as it
canpan, tilt andswivel injust about any direction, and
is very easy tooperate. The lack of panning handles
may not be toeveryones taste, but the headis so
versatile that it more thanmakes upfor it. Spirit
levels canbe foundonthe headandcentral column
brace, anda bag hook is locatedonthe legs.
WEIGHT: 1.49kg
At the more affordable endof the market is this
combinedheadandlegs set fromVelbon. The tripods
black aluminiumlegs have three sections, lockedin
place witheasy-to-openclip-style locks. The centre
columnis adjustable andreversible for low-angle
shooting. For anentry-level model, the PHD-41Q
headis a goodbuy too. Its bigger andmore sturdy
thanothers inthis bracket andwill take loads of up
to3kg withnoproblem. We like the heads relative
simplicity: using it quickly becomes second
nature. Twopaddedhandles control movement,
andone of these unscrews andts inside the
other whenthe tripodis stored. Awell-designed
quick-release plate completes the package. This is a
cracking buy for the beginner or intermediate
photographer whowants a general purpose tripodto
improve their images andopenmore options.
WEIGHT: 3.15kg
The buildquality of this die-cast aluminiumtripodis
excellent. It is very sturdy, andvery reassuring. The
055XPROBfeatures the same dual positioning central
columnas the 190XPROB, as well as a spirit level, bag
hook andfoamleg grips, whichhelptoprotect the
users hands whenusing the tripodincoldweather.
The legs eachhave a four-positionlock, which
makes it versatile andsecure. Youll either love or
hate the trigger-style griphead, but we foundit
incredibly quick andeasy toadjust, getting your
camera intojust the right positionwiththe
minimumof fuss. Not having totightenlevers also
saves time, andreduces the risk of knocking the head
out of place. The headhas its ownspirit level, allowing
youtomake sure that your camera is level. This headis
particularly useful whencombinedwiththe versatility
of the central columnof the tripodandwhenshooting
WEIGHT: 3.2kg
The largest tripodinthis category is very sturdy and
feels as thoughit couldwithstandany treatment. The
designis simple but stylish, andit certainly looks like a
tripodfor serious use. Althoughit is quite heavy, it is
still very portable for its size. The locks are strong and
secure, yet easy toopen, while the reversible central
columnallows users totake lowlevel andmacroshots
withease. This is particularly effective whenused
withthe legs openwide, whichcanbe done easily
using the three-positionlocks, whichholdthemrmly
inposition. The panandtilt headfeatures a panning
lock, andhas a very smoothpanning motion. The
quick release plate is circular, whichmakes it very easy
toattachanddetachthe camera. There are twospirit
levels, whichhelptokeephorizontals andverticals
straight. Althoughthere is nobag hook, the tripodis so
sturdy youare unlikely tomiss it.
WEIGHT: 1.375kg
This tripodis exceptionally light, especially for its size,
yet it is sturdy, althoughthe maximumloadmay prove
restrictive for some. The rubberisedtwist locks are
secure andcomfortable touse andfoamleg grips give
a comfortable gripincoldweather. The three-position
angle locks ensure that the legs dont slip, whichis
reassuring tothose using expensive kit. The central
columnis reversible for lowlevel andmacroshots,
andhas a bag hook. The ball andsocket headis also
very secure, andit is easy tomanoeuvre the head
intojust about any position. It has a variable friction
control, allowing the user a great deal of control, which
means that precisionadjustments are quick andeasy
toimplement. The three spirit levels helptoensure
that horizontals andverticals are perfectly aligned,
making this a great all roundtripodfor almost any type
of photography, not least landscapes.
WEIGHT: 1.62kg
This Manfrottois exceptionally light, andits sleek
designlooks fantastic. Despite its thinlegs, it was
sturdy andsupportedour test camera withease. The
twist locks are very strong andprove quick touse. The
central columncanbe raisedandmovedinto
horizontal positionwithout removing it fromthe legs,
making the tripodperfect for macroandlowlevel
shots, andvery easy touse. The multi-positionleg
locks have a depressable button, making themmuch
easier andnicer touse thanthose that have clips that
must be lifted. The ball andsocket headis very smooth
andeasy touse, as one switchcontrols everything. This
is ideal for quick positioning, but not as precise as
some of the other heads inthe test. There is a spirit
level, toensure that your tripodis level, andthe centre
columnboasts a bag hook, allowing extra weight tobe
attachedfor stability inhighwinds.
3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
150 Equipment:Bags
YOUR MAIN CONSIDERATIONS should be how much kit can it hold and
whether to go for a bag that hangs over the shoulder or a backpack.
Most outdoor photographers prefer backpacks as they distribute weight
over your shoulders and back, making it far easier to carry gear over
long distances. The daypack holds photo gear in the bottom section and
general items in the top compartment, while dedicated photo backpacks
are designed with larger kits in mind. Consider the following:
Comfort: As you carry more kit, the weight increases, so shoulder straps
are important. The wider and more padded they are, the less they dig
into your shoulders. Waist straps are useful, as they relieve tension from
the lumbar region and help keep your back straight. Another important
factor is the bags frame. Some are sturdier than others, which may seem
uncomfortable at rst, but can help keep your back straight on long treks.
Capacity: Think about how much kit you plan to carry. This will ultimately
determine the size of bag you need. All the bags in this test have
adjustable compartments, so they are quite versatile. We also list internal
dimensions, so you can see exactly how much space they offer.
Features (see panel below): Some photographers just want a bag with
lots of space, others are more demanding over specic features. Most
have have front pockets, designed to help you organise your memory
cards and batteries into used and unused. Many of the bags have water
bottle holders, tripod clips or pouches and rain covers.
Build Quality: How well the backpack is put together, including the
stitching, zippers and weatherproong, determines how long it ought to
last, how strong it is and how well it protects your equipment.
Price: Weve stated average street prices at time of publication.
1) STRAPSCheck tosee if
the straps are adjustable,
paddedandwide, tostop
themfromcutting intoyour
shoulders onlong journeys.
Alsolook for waist straps.
2) PADDINGSome bags
have pressure pads onthe
back, whichwill take a lot of
the strainout of long journeys
andspreadthe weight of the
gear over a larger area.
Does the bag holdall the
equipment youwill needfor
your photography? If there is
toomuchempty space, the bag
will be unbalanced, whichcan
be badfor your back. All the
bags inthis test feature
adjustable dividers andoffer
quite a bit of versatility.
are weather resistant. Some
are weather proof, and
others have all-weather
covers that canbe pulledout
froma hiddencompartment,
usually onthe base.
Make sure that the laptop
compartment is big enough
for your computer, as they
vary insize. The padding is
alsoimportant here.
bags allowyoutoattachfurther
bags, tripods andmonopods,
but some are only compatible
withthe manufacturers own
7) ZIPSIf yougoout a lot in
badweather or near water,
make sure that the zips are up
toit. Wildlife photographers
shouldalsoconsider the noise
made by the zips, as animals
canbe easily frightenedoff.
Tamrac AdventureMessenger5
DIMENSIONS: 37x30x22cm
WEIGHT: 1.07kg
WARRANTY: Five years
CONTACT: 01628674411
If youwant tocarry a laptopwithyou, thenthis
is a goodbudget choice, as it has a well-padded,
laptopcompartment at the rear. There is lots of
internal space andcomfortably holds a large
DSLR, like a NikonD700with24-70mmlens
attached, a 70-200mmf/2.8zoomlens and
ashgun. There are four dividers tochange
the layout, soyoucouldeasily keepa smaller
body, extra lenses, andother accessories in
there too. Its not short onfeatures either,
witha paddednon-slipstrap, a carry handle
andslots toaddoncomponents fromthe
Tamrac StrapAccessory System. Alarge
pocket at the front has sections for pens,
stationery or note pads, a pocket inthe lidfor
smaller items anda dedicatedmobile phone
pocket. If youhave a mediumor large DSLR,
extra lenses anda laptop, this is a great buy.
DIMENSIONS(OUTER): 46.5x28x35.5cm
WEIGHT: 1.9kg
WARRANTY: Lifetime
CONTACT: 01902864646
Adiscreet camera bag withroomfor lots of
camera gear as well as a laptop. The interior of
the bag is very deep, soyoucandouble-upon
storage by stacking items ontopof eachother.
The bags depthalsomakes it very suitable
for cameras withlong lenses. Apadded
sectionprovides storage for a 15inlaptop.
Leather is usedtogoodeffect throughout the
bag andthe grabhandles andshoulder strap
are very well designed. Entry intothe main
sectionof the bag is througha clever roof zip
that is easy toaccess onthe move andis
protectedby the handle buckling over it.
Youll be able tot at least twoDSLRs withan
additional twoor three lenses inthe spacious
mainsection. Aluggage sleeve means that you
canattachthis bag tothe handles of a wheelie
case. The bag is hand-luggage friendly too.
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Gadgetbag Backpack
If youre carrying a lot of heavy kit, its important that your bag sits
correctly on your back or at your side. This advice can prevent all kinds of
back and posture problems. With a backpack, ensure that both straps are
over your shoulders and tightened so that the bag sits in the centre of your
back. If it has waist and chest straps, make sure you use themto distribute
the weight evenly across your back, rather than just your shoulders. For
shoulder bags, pull the strap over your head to the opposite shoulder. This
will distribute the weight better than if it were on the closest shoulder and
stops it fromslipping off your shoulder, or being easily snatched.
Equipment:Bags 151 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
DIMENSIONS: 33x34x50cm
WEIGHT: 2.9kg
WARRANTY: Five years (limited)
CONTACT: 01628674411
The Expedition7x boasts lots of roomanda
comfortable harness system. Theres loads of
padding onthe shoulder straps, lumber
support andwaist belt, together withairow
channels tokeepyoucool. Theres noraincover,
but water-resistant zips anda lock-downrain
aphelpprotect your gear. The dual hinge
divider systemhelps youcarry one or two
DSLRs, withzooms attached; withroomto
spare for other lenses, andandyoucanboost
capacity withTamracs Modular Accessory
SystemandStrapAccessory System. Theres a
15inlaptopcompartment andtwowing
accessory pockets withTamracs Memory and
Battery Management Systemfor organising
those essentials. Theres alsoa plastic
reinforcedpocket, whichprovides protectionfor
fragile accessories andacts as a tripodfootrest.
DIMENSIONS: 30x25x42cm
WEIGHT: 2.3kg
WARRANTY: Lifetime
CONTACT: 01902864646
This is a traditional photobackpack designed
predominantly for carrying camera gear. It has
water-resistant zippers, a seam-sealedAll
Weather nishanddedicatedraincover. The
adjustable harness makes it very comfortable
tocarry, andtheres sternumandwaist support
belts tohelpspreadthe load. Internal space
makes it possible tosqueeze intwoDSLRs with
lenses attachedandat least three more lenses
too, andthere are plenty of dividers toalter the
layout. There is alsoa 13inlaptopcompartment,
not tomentiona detachable tripodfoot, andthe
exterior dimensions conformtothe maximum
handluggage specications for airlines too.
The front pockets feature pouches for spare
batteries andmemory cards, there are a couple
of meshpockets for other essentials anda
documents pocket, too.
DIMENSIONS: 34x29x50.5cm
WEIGHT: 2.7kg
WARRANTY: Lifetime
CONTACT: 01902864646
The ProRunner 450AWholds a lot of gear,
withroomfor twolarge DSLRs withzooms
attached, andspace for several extra lenses,
ashguns, a thirdbody anda 17inlaptoptoo.
The shoulder straps are thickly paddedand
adjustable, andthe waist belt andcarry handle
will be appreciatedwhencarting about all that
weight. The compressionstraps helpreduce
the bulk onthe 450AWfor easier
transportation, theres a built-inAll Weather
cover andyoucancarry a tripodusing the
loops andtripodfoot. The front pocket will
holda fewpersonal items, the three internal
pockets feature windowpane panels tohelp
keepthings like lters ondisplay, andthere are
twodedicatedmemory cardpouches, too.
This bag is a great optionfor carrying a large
outt as well as personal gear.
DIMENSIONS: 36x23x50cm
WEIGHT: 1.6kg
WARRANTY: Five years
CONTACT: 01628674411
Withspace toholdpersonal andcamera gear,
the AeroSpeedPack 85is similar tothe
Adventure 7, but a bit bigger, andthe alternate
layout allows youtocarry more gear. It canhold
a large DSLR, at least three lenses andits also
compatible withTamracs SASsystemtoslipon
extra pouches. Theres bothside andfront entry
access, whichmakes getting gear out a little
quicker, althoughyoustill needtotake this
backpack off rst. The topof the bag has room
for a light coat, lunchanda fewother essentials,
but theres nolaptopcompartment. Other
pockets are limitedtoo, there are a couple of
side meshpockets, andVelcroandzipped
pouches for storing memory cards and
batteries. Padding onthe rear andnon-slip
straps is thinandtheres nosternumstrap,
waist belt or raincover either.
DIMENSIONS: 31.5x24x46cm
WEIGHT: 1.6kg
WARRANTY: Lifetime
CONTACT: 01902864646
Available inblack, blue or redtrim, the Fastpack
250features twocompartments andis ideal for
travelling light. The camera compartment is
well padded, holds a large DSLRwithzoom
attached, along withone or twosmall lenses
andash. Theres noroomfor a secondbody or
larger lenses though, but the rear padded
pocket does holda 15inlaptop. The side entry
compartment helps youget at your gear
quickly, but youdoneedtotake it off toget gear
out safely. The topcompartment isnt as well
padded, sois not designedfor camera gear, but
it does include twopockets for memory cards
andpens. Thanks tothe generous padding on
the shoulder straps andback, the Fastpack 250
is comfortable tocarry, the sternumandback
support straps holdit nicely inplace andtheres
a carry handle toboot.
DIMENSIONS: 40x26x45cm
WEIGHT: 2.8kg
WARRANTY: 30years
CONTACT: 08452304262
This large backpack has twocompartments,
bothof whichfeature generous space. The
lower compartment ts a large DSLRwith
24-70mmf/2.8attached, a long zoom,
ashgun, twosmall primes andevena second
body. The exible dividers make it versatile too,
as the whole paddedsectioncanalsobe
removed, andtheres a large 17inlaptop
compartment. The constructionis robust with
Ultra Dobby Nylon, protectedzips, toughbelts,
strong metal hooks anda rubber base that
covers the bottom, sonoproblems leaving it on
wet ground. The shoulder straps are adjustable,
but not very well padded, andtheres a waist
belt, lumber support andpadding onthe rear
for improvedcomfort. Features are goodtoo,
witha detachable microbre cloth, memory
cardwallet, raincover andseveral pockets.
1) NavigatioNal aids There are a number of useful tools available
to make sure you head in the right direction. A simple compass and an
Ordnance Survey map are the basic requirements both are available
from high street camping shops. If you use a map, wed recommend a
waterproof casing, such as the Aquamap case from Outdoor Designs
( Handheld GPS units have become
far more commonplace and if youre serious about your outdoor
photography, one that weve found to deliver a superb performance is
the Active 10 by SatMap ( Its expensive at around
300 but is incredibly accurate and is preloaded with maps for the
whole of the UK, with additional maps available on SD cards. If youre
keen on shooting sunrises and sunsets, there are a number of sun
compasses that do a great job, from the credit-card sized 3 Depssi
card by Blue Pond ( to the 21 Flight
Logistics Sun Position Compass (
2) MeMory cards The price of memory cards has fallen to such a
low that there is little excuse for not having a small collection of them
in your kit bag. In terms of capacity, we recommend going for a set of
two to six 8GB cards, depending on the length of your trip. Choose
from a reputable brand like Lexar or SanDisk to minimise the risk of
a card developing a fault and losing any images stored on it.
3) leNs hood As well as preventing fare from the sun, which can
ruin picture quality, a lens hood also provides suitable protection
for your lens in the rain, so leave it ftted at all times. Watch out for
vignetting on ultra wide-angle lenses.
4) reMote releases Long exposures mean camera shake is a real
problem. Using an electronic remote release helps minimise camera
movement when fring the shutter. Check your instruction manual for
branded remotes or consider one of the many excellent remotes by
Hama, Hahnel and Seculine. Prices start at around 15.
5) PersoNal storage device If you plan a trip running any longer
than a weekend, youll most likely need some form of image back-up.
A laptops the ideal choice if you want to Photoshop your images while
away, but for most, a personal storage device is a better option. Choose
a model with a large LCD monitor so that you can review and edit
images. In our opinion, the best models are made by Epson, with our
favourite being the 550 80GB Epson P-7000, which has slots for SD
and CompactFlash cards and a bright, sharp 4in screen.
6) cleaNiNg kit Keep one or even two lens cloths in your gadget
bag. As well as being perfect for cleaning dirt marks and dust from
your lens surfaces, theyre also ideal to wipe away raindrops. Two cloths
allow you to use one just for moisture and heavy soiling.
7) hotshoe sPirit level Avoiding uneven horizons is relatively
easy. Use a tripod with an integral spirit level or slip a cheap and
cheerful spirit level onto your hotshoe. Alternatively, buy a Seculine
Action Level ( and use its colour LEDs and
audible beeps to help you straighten up your camera.
8) light Meter For perfect exposures, you cant beat the precision of
a handheld meter. While your cameras integral meter is very accurate,
many pros still swear by the extra versatility and precision given by
a handheld meter. For those looking for absolute reassurance, wed
recommend the Sekonic L-308s, which is the latest version of the
landscapers favourite. Small, accurate and easy to use, this tidy little
number represents excellent value for money at 130.
9) sPare batteries Make sure you take your charger away with you
and charge your batteres the night before. If you can, carry a spare set
with you. If your DSLR uses a lithium-ion cell, as well as the branded
battery, there are various third party options too. Ask your dealer
or check the classifed and dealer ads in Digital SLR Photography
magazine for details. If your DSLR uses AA batteries, youll fnd
rechargeables from the likes of Energizer are superb, as is the range of
Eneloop batteries from Sanyo ((
10) safety Pack Its worth keeping a small selection of high-energy
snack bars in your kitbag to keep you going beyond meal times or in
an emergency. You should also pack a whistle and a torch just in case
you get lost or have an accident while on your own. If youre heading to
isolated areas, make sure you take your mobile phone and ensure its
fully charged before you leave. Always tell someone your plans.
CHOOSInG WHAT YOU nEED to take with you or leave behind isnt
easy. You have to balance the fact that you dont want to be walking
around with a heavy load with that of not wanting to discover miles
from your base that youre missing a vital piece of kit. Here we run
through the items that make up a shortlist of accessories to consider.
152 Equipment:Generalaccessories TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdedition
Equipment:Clothing 153 3rdEdition TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography
1) KEEp your hEad warm wITh a BEanIE haT! You lose close
to a third of your body heat through your head and so its important
to wear a hat or cap in cold conditions. While baseball caps are OK,
their peak will get in the way when you hold the camera to your eye.
You can always spin it round but maybe opt for a beanie hat instead,
which will help keep your head warm and wont take up much space
when you take it off. Youll fnd them available in plain or patterned
designs to suit your fashion sense (or lack of it!).
2) KEEp your fIngErs nImBlE! Cold winds can really freeze
up your fngers and make it more diffcult to press buttons and
tweak controls on your DSLR. The easiest solution is to wear gloves,
although standard types are quite thick and still make it diffcult
to operate your camera. Our favourites are both made by Outdoor
Designs ( and are well worth trying
out. The Takustretch has a grip palm and is made from wind-
resistant materials to keep your hands warm. Better still is the
Konagrip convertible, a windproof feece glove with leather grip
palm and fip-over fnger mitt.
3) wEar good fooTwEar! Youre more than likely going to cover
miles in pursuit of stunning landscapes, so your average trainers arent
the best choice. Depending on how far you plan to walk, the type
of terrain and time of year, you should look to wear shoes that are
comfortable, hard-wearing and practical. Walking boots are best for
serious treks and the likes of the 90 Berghaus Explorer
( are ideal, offering comfort, durability and
support. Youll fnd them available for men and women in
various colours. Another great option is Patagonias Thatcher
hiking shoes (, which are extremely
comfortable and lightweight and incredibly durable. Theyre
fashionable too and very well priced at around 60.
4) donT forgET your socKs! Cold or wet feet make
walking around a real misery, as can wearing too thick a
sock in warmer conditions. Its worth buying a couple of
pairs of decent socks to suit the season and type of shoe
you wear. Bridgedale ( are leaders in
this department, offering socks to suit cold weather, light
treks or longer walks where comfort is essential. Theyve
a bewildering choice on offer, but wed recommend the
Endurance Trekker and Comfort Trekker for longer walks, and
the lightweight Bamboo Crew in warmer weather.
5) KEEp your Body warm and dry! The humble feece is
an unsung hero in outdoor clothing, proving relatively lightweight,
incredibly warm and very hard-wearing. Theyre also available in various
designs and colours too, so are as fashionable as they are practical.
Youll fnd all high street fashion stores stock their own brands, but
wed really recommend you check out those from outdoor specialists
like Patagonia, Paramo and Berghaus as theyre generally made from
better quality materials. In cold weather the general rule is wear one
or two thinner layers as opposed to one thick layer as the air between
each layer is warmed up. So a feece top with an outer feece is a good
option to consider. If its especially cold or windy, a windproof jacket
adds an extra layer of protection. For this guide, we tried out a number
of feeces and found the Patagonia R1 Pullover and Berghaus Arana
to be excellent choices as a feece top. The Berghaus Aura is a decent
choice as an outer layer, while we found when shooting by the coast
that Paramos Pajaro and Cascada ( offered superb
protection from the wind and sea-spray and are well worth investing in.
Incidentally, when choosing colours, bear in mind right reds are great
for visibility, so perfect when heading to remote locations, but not such
a good choice if you ever plan on stalking wildlife!
6) proTEcT your lEgs! In truth, few amateur photographers
head outdoors in anything other than a pair of jeans and while theyre
comfortable, theyre not ideal when the going gets wet. If the weather is
unpredictable or you know youll be shooting near the coast, consider
a pair of waterproof trousers. Again, outdoor specialists are best, with
Paramos Cascada trousers generally considered to be one of the best.
from before dawn until after dusk and youll fnd them dressed
accordingly. As well as thick clothing to deal with cold
temperatures and high winds, you should also consider breathable
garments to allow perspiration to evaporate in the heat and
comfortable footwear that can handle hours of trudging along
green countryside, rocky mountains and wet bogs. Ensure youre
protected from the elements by following our guide to the best.
154 Ensureperfectexposures
DIGITAL SLRS USE sophisticated exposure systems and all work using
the same assumption that the average of the scene that is being metered
from is a mid-tone, or 18% grey to be exact; i.e. the average of all dark, light
and mid-tones mixed together is 18% grey. Its the basis of all metering
patterns and works surprisingly well but while its ne for the majority of
shooting situations, it can lead to incorrect exposures when the scene or
subject is considerably lighter or darker in tone than 18% grey. For example,
very dark areas can fool the metering system into overexposing the image.
Similarly, very light subjects, such as a snow scene, can fool the camera
into underexposing them making them appear darker than they are as
the light meter will take a reading designed to render them as a mid-tone.
As a camera is trying to render an image grey, its your job to ensure
you compensate to keep the tones true to life. You can do this by either
using one of your cameras exposure override facilities, such as exposure
compensation or the AE-Lock button, or by metering from an area of the
scene that has a mid-tone. And thats where our grey card comes in. Using
it is very simple as our step by step guide below illustrates. The key thing to
remember is that you need to place the grey card in similar lighting to your
scene, for instance, dont place it in a shaded area if your scene is bathed
in sunlight. Also, make sure that the card lls the metering area wed
recommend you use spot or partial metering as the card wont need to ll
the entire image area but any is suitable. You can either lock the exposure
using your cameras AE-Lock facility or note the aperture and shutter speed
and then switch to Manual mode and set these, although this method isnt
suitable to days here lighting is variable. The card has AF reference lines to
help your cameras autofocus lock on to it. However, you dont necessarily
need it to be in focus to work correctly. The grey card (as well as the white
card) can also be used to take a custom White Balance reading from too.
The 18%grey card can be used to ensure perfect exposures when shooting in tricky lighting conditions (see below).
Both reference cards can also be used to set a customWhite Balance. Depending on the camera you use, you
need to take a White Balance reading off the grey or the white card (your cameras instructions will showyou how)
GETTINGSTARTEDPlace your grey card on
the ground angled towards you and ensure its
located in a spot that is bathed in the same light as
the majority of your scene you plan to shoot.
entire metering area is lled by the grey card
(in this instance were using multi-zone metering)
and lock the exposure with the AE-Lock button.
COMPOSE&SHOOTWith this exposure
locked, you can compose your scene and take
your shots. When you check it on your LCD
monitor, the exposure should be perfect.
Scenes withbright skies canlead
toexposureerror. Useagreycard
TheEssential GuidetoLandscapePhotography 3rdEdition
Whether you use the grey card or not, in
tricky lighting conditions, bracket your
exposure by +/-1 stops using your
cameras exposure compensation or AEB
functions to ensure you get the shot