by Wanda Krack
When you go on a trip or take a vacation this year, along with taking pictures of family and friends, don’t forget to keep an eye out for nice landscape shots. Here are just a few of the many hints about taking
Notice what the sky looks like. Usually early morning or late afternoon will give you the best lighting and
colors for landscapes, especially when the sky has color. On the other hand, big, fluffy white clouds look
good in scenic pictures also. Try not to get the sun in the picture except for about an hour after sunrise and an hour or less before sunset. Bright sun can damage the sensor inside your camera. Some of the most dramatic scenic images are taken just before or just after stormy weather. If you have a ‘blah’ sky, consider either not including the sky in the image, or just catch a little of the sky. For waterfall pictures, you might consider how much sunlight is on the water and use a polarizer filter on the lens to help prevent overexposure and reduce the water’s glare. A polarizer can also darken the blue of the sky. To be most effective, the polarizer needs to be at a 45 to 80 degree angle from the sun. Circular polarizers must be turned until you obtain the look you want. Point and shoot cameras should have a setting such as water, or waterfalls that helps.
Consider the horizon. Unless you are taking a picture that you want to be heavily angled on purpose, a
straight horizon line is a must. If there is water in the picture, try to level the image with the water, as
we all know water is self-leveling. If there is a grassy plain within your picture, use that to level the picture. Simply changing how you are holding the camera, you can easily make a horizon line level, just by eye-balling it. One of the first things people notice when looking at a picture of a beautiful scene is
the horizon ………..actually if it is not level, that’s what is immediately apparent. So, do consider the horizon lines, even if you’re in the mountains! Most professional photographers have a level either within the camera or on the tripod. It is that important.
The second thing about horizons is where to place them in the picture. If you have a dramatic sky and
that is the most important element in the shot, lower the horizon line to be just at the lower 1/3rd of the image, and show off that beautiful sky. If you have a scene that the sky is not important in, but the
subject of interest is in the lower half of your view, put the horizon line 1/3rd from the top of the image to increase the amount of space given to the main subject, which is right in front of you. Using the
placements of 1/3rd from the top of the image, and 1/3rd from the bottom of the image will increase the importance for the viewer of the subject you are trying to show in the image.
When taking a shot of a beautiful landscape, while you are looking at the view on your camera, try to find an object that will be in focus in the foreground. It could be a tree, a rock, a seashell, a child, a
beautiful lady, many things, but this will help to ‘ground’ the image, give depth to the image, as well as give the eye a spot to return to, and sometimes simply gives the eye a place to enter the picture. Just
find something that can be seen as a point of interest in the bottom half of the image.
Sometimes when I pull images up on the computer, I see objects within the picture that should have
been in sharp focus, and it is not. The object does not look good out of focus. A general rule about
landscape pictures is that if you focus on an object about 1/3rd into the picture, most all of what is in
front of the object, and behind the object will be in good focus. Sometimes you don’t want everything to be sharply focused (called selective focus), but generally in landscapes, it’s good to have everything from the bottom to the top of the picture in sharp focus. There are several other things that can affect the sharpness or blurriness of landscapes or objects within a landscape picture, but this general rule usually works.
Tripods are in some ways a nuisance, being something else you must carry around. But, even good scenic shots can turn out blurry due to camera shake, and the best fix for this is to use a tripod, or consider using a monopod (looks like a walking stick) to help stabilize the camera. You can even use the top of your car, or the car hood, or any other object that is handy to rest the camera on, making sure
you get what you want within the frame before tripping the shutter. If your camera allows you to take an image while not holding it (delayed shutter), use it with landscape shots, after stabilizing your
camera. That way you don’t have to hold the camera to take the picture. You can also use a remote shutter release, either wired to the camera or battery operated, to prevent camera shake. Other body- stabilizing things you can do is to hold your breath as you trip the shutter, lean against something, pressing your side or back against a solid object, or simply pressing the top of the camera firmly against the forehead. Bringing the upper arms in tight to the sides of the chest, and holding the camera with both hands while separating the feet about a foot apart, also helps to prevent camera shake. Firming up the body, and not moving when you make the click, aids in prevention of camera shake and blurry pictures.
These six hints about taking pictures of beautiful scenes you encounter are only a few of the many suggestions that are out there on the ‘web’, written about in books, and demonstrated on You-Tube as important things to consider when taking landscape pictures. Many more helpful hints await you on the internet with a google search! Enjoy this beautiful earth, take time to appreciate our special landscapes, and have fun capturing some of them with your camera! You may not return to the place you are traveling to this year, but if you bring home a good picture, it can enhance your life by reflecting that place of beauty.
The Cookeville Camera Club meets at the First Presbyterian Church in Cookeville, usually the second and fourth Monday evening with programs starting at 7pm and a social time at 6:30pm. The meetings are open to the public, and we feel honored when we have guests! You can check the calendar of events and meetings with topics by going to cookevillecameraclub.com on the internet.