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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Post: How-to Photograph Landscapes

I'm so excited to be guest blogging for Kitty Cats and Airplanes! Don't you just love her crafts & all her sewing ideas?!

I'm studying photography at a university in Idaho & I love it! I often get asked about cameras or tips on how to take different pictures. My favorite thing to photograph is landscapes. So you get a little something-something from me: a tutorial on photographing landscapes! (How awesome am I?...pretty awesome, I know.)

In order to do this I need to confront a couple of myths first.
Myth 1: You need a "nice" camera to get quality pictures.
Truth is, you don't! Shocker, I know. For most people "nice" means something like this:
courtesy of CNet
This isn't the case. For the first 3 years after I got into photography I used something like this:
courtesy of iTech News
Want to know something? Most of my clients never knew! Prosumer cameras are a great way to go if you don't have the money or time to devote to a SLR. Just trust me on this.

Myth 2: You have to shoot during the sunniest part of the day.
Truth is, that's probably the worst time to shoot! If the sun is blaring down on the surface of the building you shoot, you're not going to get any of the great texture you want to capture. A really bright sun is going to cast weird shadows, and if the sun is behind you, your shadow will be visible along the bottom of the picture. Not something you want. Again, just trust me.
No roof or road texture. The area underneath is too dark to make anything out.

So what do you do? Watch your weather forecast. Sounds weird, right? Thing is, the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets have tons of clouds. The light bounces off the clouds and can create a great light filter. Like this:
I keep telling you to just trust me!
If it's going to rain in the afternoon, go out in the morning. If it rained earlier in the day or will during the night, go out in the evening. You'll get some great cloud formations. Also, just because it's cloudy or gray doesn't mean you shouldn't go out shooting, especially if you're trying to photograph people. Just think: no facial shadows, no squinting eyes, no super white backgrounds because the sun's too bright--it's perfect!
It can also create great texture
Even the little puffy ones are great.
Sometimes though, sunshine is inevitable. I mean, who doesn't like sunlight? (Vampires....right...) Just don't think that your pictures are ruined or there's no hope if there's tons of sunlight. If you're taking pictures of a landscape, make sure you zoom out to capture as much as possible. That way, you're utilizing all the light possible. It also keeps the lack of texture and abundance of shadows less obvious. If you're trying to get a person in the shot, find a tree with lots of shade and put that person underneath. Case and point:
sometimes, I know what I'm talking about ;)
Myth 3: You have to be facing the sunrise or sunset to get great pictures.
Truth is, sometimes you just need to turn around! If you're facing the sunset, you'll miss this: 
Guess what, NOT done with a dSLR!

The most important thing to remember though, is to keep trying! I don't know anyone who can do anything without loads of practice first. Another great thing about digital photography: you can see the pictures immediately after you take them! Look at them. Try turning a little to the right or left and see what you get. Use a tripod. Low light means your camera needs to take a little longer to get the whole picture to develop. If you're not using a tripod (even a cheap one), you're going to get a shaky picture. Putting your camera on a tripod will allow the camera to remain steady during the whole shot. Help it along even more and set your camera on a timer. Just a few seconds will do the trick. That way, the camera will have time to steady itself after you press the button.

Anyway, hope that helps! Happy shooting!


  1. you know as the own of a KodaK Easy Share, I really appreciate all this advice! haha. I get some really great pictures, and then some blah pictures {as I'm sure you've noticed on my blog} So I will definitely put to mind these suggestions. And believe me, I trust you, I promise. =) By the way, come Springtime, we'll be up for more pictures. Since we have to add a little boy to the group, will you still be around?

  2. Of course! We won't be leaving Idaho till the end of July. I'd love to do pictures for you whenever you'd like. Your family is one of the most fun to shoot!