Waiting for the storm clouds... Landscape Photography Tips
There are tons of beautiful landscape photos available on the internet from exotic islands to mountain views. Nature never disappoints. From beautiful golden sunsets to extreme weather and let's not forget lightening. If you follow me on instagram, you'll notice I love taking pictures (usually with my phone I admit) of just clouds. They add a special element of interest and for my landscapes, they help create the mood and feeling.
Tip #1: Check the weather forecast
Timing is everything and to be sure that you are where you need to be, it's good to prepare ahead of time. Having some basic understanding of the difference between a high pressure system and low pressure system, what an occluded front is, and the various types of clouds is helpful, but not necessary. If rain or snow is in the forecast, all you need to know is when it's coming. You may want to pick your spot before, during or after the weather system clears...it all depends on what you want to capture. Perhaps a timelapse of the whole event. I have yet to create one myself...I heard it takes a lot of time.
Tip #2: Location, location, location
It helps to visit the place you'd like to take the photo of several times. Taking the time to scouting the location sharpens your focus and your vision for the kind of scene you're after. I had visited Lighthouse Point Beach (pictured above) several times throughout the year and it became my go-to place to unwind and work on my photography. Each time, there was something new and different, like visiting your favorite city and trying new shops and restaurants. It was fun going back at low tide and at high tide. Once you find your favorite spot, try picturing it at different times of day, in different weather conditions and then wait for the right moment. Remember, it doesn't always have to be early in the morning or at sunset during that golden hour. Cloud cover provides you with a huge lighting source that's like a softbox.
Tip #3: Be ready for anything!
You never know what will come into your scene. Be at the ready and ready for anything...including a sudden change in weather. Going with the flow is important to being flexible and open to the many possibilities that could turn your photo from a picture of a beautiful scene into a work of art. Having the couple walk into the scene added the elements of focus and human interest (and romance). Be one with nature - it's always in a constant state of change.
Tip #4: Time to talk camera settings
Is a tripod necessary? I say, it gets in the way unless you're doing long exposure or night photography (milky way or star trails). All photos in this this blog post were taken free hand. My comfort level with my camera grew to a point I shoot in manual mode most of the time. It really allows me to fully control the exposure triangle. Aperture settings for landscapes usually start at f/8 and go up. The higher the f value, the smaller the aperture becomes - thus creating sharper images throughout the depth of field. ISO setting is typically as low as it can go <100 to 200. This helps reduce grain and pixel noise in your images. Shutter speed is entirely up to you. The quicker settings 1/200 and above will yield sharper and potentially darker images. On the other hand, slow shutter speeds <1/25 to >30 seconds will produce long exposure images consisting of lots of blurry effects (as shown in the photo below).
Tip #5: Conquer your fears
Photography has allowed me to challenge my fear of heights. I wouldn't say I've fully conquered it, but definitely getting close. I've done quite a bit of hiking and some paths have taken me right to the edge of the cliff. Faced with the opportunity (or obstacle) more often than not, I've taken it on as a challenge to test my self-control. You certainly do not need to look down the edge of the cliff and I am not advising that at all. Always be safe. If you have any fears, it may be helpful to every now and then test you limits and see if you can gain some mastery of your fear.