The weather’s perfect, the time is right. You’ve got that gorgeous sunrise dazzling your eyes from the perfect vantage point on your hike, casting rays of light on the vista before you. Such a mesmerizing scene deserves to be captured and relived when you’re feeling especially nostalgic.
The good news is that, with landscape photography, you can! The tricky part is that certain vistas don’t necessarily translate well on photos. So, how do you capture that glorious view on camera? Here are a few tips on how to take stunning photos that still move you in the same way as when you saw the scene with your own eyes.
Bring a Good Tripod
The professionals recommend getting a stable tripod and mounting system, which doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune. It can help you take sharp pictures with more ease (no blurs, no shakes!). There are some with a high price tag that are actually rather flimsy, so be careful. However, see to it that the tripod you bring isn’t hefty (read: 5 kilos and beyond). Otherwise, you’ll be running out of photographic inspiration by the time you arrive at your destination.
Plan Ahead to Time Your Shots Right
It helps to get a guide who knows where all the great views are or is knowledgeable about the landscape and the effects of sunlight based on the time of day and location. However, you can make do without one if you’ve scouted the area already or have created a schedule for your hike so you get to where you need to be at just the right time. Some professional outdoor shutterbugs would choose to arrive at their chosen spot about an hour before sunset or sunrise, which means you may need to sacrifice a few things if you’re chasing a great shot.
Avoid Sweeping Shots
Ever tried taking a photo of a panoramic view and end up with a snap that doesn’t look as regal as the actual scene? That is what happens when there’s no clear focus or focal point in the landscape. The background haze, which can be expected in mountain vistas, may also interfere with the shot, as well as trees and other obstacles.
Go Wide, Really Wide
If you really want to capture a sweeping scene, you may as well go super wide to get a great result. Your goal is to make it so that the shot makes you feel as if you’ve taken in the entire view. Use a panoramic setting when you’re taking photos with your smartphone or, if you’re using a DSLR, consider doing composites to stitch the whole scene together.
Consider Your Foreground
The usual considerations are the scene or subject itself and the background. When doing landscape photography, the foreground is just as important as it helps give the result some depth and enhances the composition. Adding a human element, for example, can emphasize the height or distance of certain elements in the vista.
However, when you’re on the mountains, you’ll find there’s actually too much foreground (e.g., trees and shrubs). This is where the importance of planning your hike and location kicks in.
Check the Direction of Natural Light
How is the angle of your subject? How is the light hitting the entire scene? Adjust your position according to the direction of the light and find the most appealing angle. Be careful of the unnatural shadows that may be created depending on where the sun is facing. You can take a couple of shots at different angles and orientations to find that sweet spot.
When you’re behind schedule or suddenly come upon what looks like a picture-perfect view, you’d want to start shooting right away as soon as you arrive. Take 5 minutes to absorb the scenery and plan your shots.