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Thread: Landscape Shot Help

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    Landscape Shot Help

    Hi Guys,

    I’ve got a few questions on technique for landscape photography. Im looking at getting a Sigma 10-20 Wide angle lens because I believe my 24-70 does not do a great job of landscapes. As for capturing great landscape shots are there any golden rules I should be following in terms of:

    Shutter Speed
    Aperture
    Metering
    Things you’ve learnt.

    I see so many great landscapes here it makes me wonder where I’m going wrong? mine seem bland and lacking, even at beautiful locations.
    Website - www.dylanbenton.com.au

    Equipment -
    Canon 5dMk2 | Canon 40D | Canon 17-40L f4 | Sigma 24-70 f/2.8 EX DG Macro | Canon 70-200L 2.8 IS II USM |

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    I am a beginner, so take my words with a grain of salt.

    In terms of the hardware, personally I perfer either the Canon 10-22mm for sharpness, or Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 for possible (but very, very rare) flexibility on low light.

    The following equipment is most important for my landscape works:
    1) Very strudy tripod
    2) ND/GND Filter

    With the shutter speed/aperture/metering etc....

    Most of the time I have my apeture setting above f10, have used f22 but have been told colour distortion will occurs.

    I usually shoot landscape in manual mode. It really is just a trial and error process for me. In the day time, I tend to use auto bracketing. (Take 3 pics, one is normal, another 2 has Explosure Compensation on +2/-2 setting.)

    At the night time, which usually need longer explosure time (i.e. 5 seconds or so?) I set the camera to Av mode, with ISO of 1600/3200 etc. Half press the button and get the reading. If I got... i.e. 3 seconds at f/11, then I just leave the Av at f/11, but step up the time by 3 steps (or 4 steps if ISO3200). 3 seconds at 1600, = 24 seconds at ISO200. The reason for low ISO is to avoid excessive noise.

    ND/GND filter good for seascape/sunset kinda stuff.

    I think I have said too much for an beginner, probably 1/2 the thing I said is rubbish I better let the real deals put in their opinion
    Last edited by andylo; 07-07-2010 at 5:13pm.

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    its not rubbish!, alot of good points there, ive got a manfroto tripod so im fine there, its more of the settigs that are getting me. the lack of a filter isn't helping either

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    If for the sunrise/sunset pic and you have lack of filter, what I do is use bracketing, take 3 pics (0, +2, -2... or whatever you see fit) on a tripod. Then convert the 3 pics become a HDR image. A LOT OF NOISES.... but at least it will preserve most of the details. It even creates a very dynamic feel to the photo.

    With the setting, (especially at night time) I wish my ISO1600 trick can help you. (Again, I read it thru another internet site when I was struggling)

    Also there is a "Sunny16 rules" which I find it interest.

    If its a bright sunny day, you can take a normal explosure pic by setting the apeature to f/16. And use the same shutter speed as your ISO. (i.e. ISO100 - Tv 100, ISO200 - Tv200)

    But I have been told bright sunny day has harsh light and not ideal for landscape.

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    Hy Dylfish...yeah the 10-20 Siggy is nice, but my preferred landscape lens is the 17-55 2.8...it's the one I use for pretty well all my landscapes, plus it's good for close in work. You also have to think about stitching images and that opens up a whole new world - doing vertical slices with an 85mm for a pano for example. And as for shutter speed and aperture, they will depend entirely on what it is in a land/sea/water scape you want to get. No hard and fast rules here...and it requires a lot of mucking around. Hope this helps. Cheers
    Sean

    Gear: Canon AE-1, EOS 40D & 350D; Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6; EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM; EF 85mm f/1.8 USM; EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro; EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM; 430EX Speedlite; Manfrotto 190XDB with 804RC2 head


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    Unfortunately I am not experienced in any way to give advice on this subject, but it does make for interesting reading, so come on guys more info, it's interesting.

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    I've decided I need to invest in a gnd filter, are there any poeple would recomend?

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    I would only recommend filter with 100mm of size. Cokin Z-Pro or if you have more spare cash, Lee's filters are my pick (I am using the Z-Pro. The GND pack - comes with GND2/4/8 + Holder + a bag carries all these = $320 AUD)

    I have been told the Lee's system are better with both holder and filter itself, never have the spare cash to trial

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    One word LAB dont process in RGB process in LAB and mask your pic with a duplicate layer.

    steve.

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    Landscapes:

    The kit of most good landscapers is the wide angle lens, but you can get some great landscapes without one. Filters, it is good to start with a polariser, it is usually one of the first filters most buy, it gives your sky that nice punchy blue colour, and adds contrast. Polarisers also reduce reflections, which can be handy.

    If you do want to head with more filters, look at Neutral Density and Neutral Density Graduated filters, these can be particularly handy for sunrise and sunsets. While ND filters also playing a role in water photography (rivers, streams and waterfalls).

    Settings.

    * Keep your ISO low, the lowest your camera has. There is really no reason to use a high ISO when shooting landscapes.

    * Aperture, you can use f22, but it can result in some issues, but as lenses are not perfect, you can have issues at any aperture. Test your lens out on various f stops, and then compare the results and see what you like. Look at things like sharpness across the scene (foreground to distance). Most lenses are sharpest between about f8 and f14.

    * With wide angle lenses perspective distortion is often a side effect. This is curvature of the horizon due to the wide angle. Remember how a fish-eye lens rounds the horizon and creates interesting distortion to the subject? A wide angle lens is not that far removed from a fish-eye lens,especially as you get closer to the 10mm end. You will need to learn how to correct perspective errors in your editing software.

    * Shutter speed. This depends on the light. Certainly just at dawn, you can often get away with exposures of 30 seconds or longer, but as the sun rises you will need faster shutter speeds to get a correct exposure. Also the shutter speed will depend on what you want to creatively achieve. You could take a shot of a waterfall and freeze the water, or take the same shot, with a slower shutter speed and get the lovely silky water effect.

    * Learn to read the histogram that can be displayed on your camera's LCD. This can be the best tool available in the field to ensure you are getting correct exposures.

    * bracketing and using HDR software to combine the results can work, but also be wary of over-doing it. Often we see HDR's that are over-processed and the high saturation and lack of shadows leads to an almost un-natural result. People who haven't seen HDR much before, often go WOW, but experienced photographers tend to dislike the over-processed HDR. A good HDR should present the scene well, but probably not be noticeable as HDR first off. Once the processing is the first thing photographers notice, you have failed.

    Taking good landscapes is a skill, it will take time, so practice and learn from your mistakes.

    As you are in Perth Dylfish, one of the best things you could do (as well as asking on AP), is to see if you cannot organise a sunset AP meet. Catch up with some fellow AP members and pick their brains, learn from them during the meet. Learning from photographers, online and in person, is one of the best ways to garner more knowledge and experience.
    Last edited by ricktas; 08-07-2010 at 6:49am.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Thanks guys. Soon as I find some spare time I think I'll try organise a sunset shot. I wish I was able to get sunrise seascapes like the eastern seaboard.

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    Just another comment about the sigma I agree that the sigma 10-20 is not as sharp a the canon 10-22 but it is a fantastic lens for very wide angle and landscapes need not be very sharp anyway for half the price of a canon 10-22 I think the sigma is a good buy. Another important thing with landscapes is focus what do you focus on or rather where do you focus. When I started landscapes I had no clue I always focused on the closest subject to the camera often the foreground but what this does is it blurs the background not so much with a wide angle lens though like the 10mm focal length but you would want your landscapes to be reasonably sharp that is try and achieve maximum depth of field. There are few ways of doing that the most consistent way of doing that and this is just me I auto focus upto one third of the distance from your main subject or into the scene using the single point af (this is on a 7d). Then there are the hyperfocal charts they have different charts for different sensor crops. This gets a bit technical trying to understand hyperfocal distance but it is worth a read. The problem with the charts are that the newer lens do not have enough markings on it to set it to the exact settings esp the canon non l lens. When it's dark or if you are using a dark nd filter like a 10 stop one the auto focus will not work as there is just not enough light coming in then the best thing to do is set it to infinity every lens has this indicator but even this is not very accurate. Most people say turn off the auto focus at the lens and dial into infinity and them move it by a notch to the left. I have not yet found a solid method. But by focusing one third into the scene of from your main subject I get consistent results maybe some one can shed more light into this subject. This is as far as my knowledge goes. Hope it helps


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Dwarak Calayampundi

    Canon 5D Mark II, 7 D Lens Canon 24-105mm L Canon 16-35mm II L Canon 100mm Sigma 10-20mm Canon 50mm 1.8
    http://www.wix.com/dwarak/landscapes

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    LOL! The other day I was just whinging to my mate that too bad we are not at the west side of the country!!!

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    Having spent alot of time taking landscapes, quite often in situations when there is no time to take your time and composure your image and ensure everythings right I would have the following suggestions:
    1. Have a base setting which you go to when you are shooting landscapes, and adjust from there. For my Sigma 10-20 I generally set at F11/F13, ISO 200 or thereabouts which in most situations gives a sufficiently high shutter speed....if I have plenty of light to play with I bump up the Fstop, sometimes use a polariser (yeah I know, caution vignetting but sometimes I like the effect), and sometimes use a GND filter as well. This will mean when you turn up to shoot a landscape you are all ready to start and just need to optimise from there.
    2. Don't take the same shot everyone else does. When I go to a location (particularly on holidays) where many shots have been taken I take a single shot for the wifes photo album, and then spend the rest of the time trying to find things to play with: natural framings, unusual perspectives, foreground features or even wildlife. For instance, when shooting Devil's Tower in NE Wyoming I did a fair bit of scrambling to get the best composure at sunset, then the following morning for sunrise (ugh 4am hurts) found a burnt out tree that offered a really interesting feature for my photograph. Too many panoramics and landscapes in my mind fail to capitalise on the foreground when the subject itself is not that spectacular. I feel this attention to detail really adds to the pictures.
    3. As Rick says...don't overdo or overblow your HDR if you go that way...while the odd surreal image is nice, too many of these pictures are being over done and just look tacky...part of HDR is making the most of the shadowing effect and accentuating the detail within those shadows...not blowing them all away.
    4. Don't be afraid to post up an image when you can't work out why it doesn't look as good as others you have seen...they only way you can learn is practice and asking for help and critique.
    5. As Rick says, get in touch with other members of the WA crew, being able to shoot with someone else in person is also a great way to learn and get advice.

    Hope this helps you out.
    John
    Nikon D800, D700, Nikkor 14-24 F2.8, 24-70mm F2.8, 50mm F1.8D, 70-200mm F2.8 VRII, Manfrotto 190XB with Q5 PM Head,
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    Stormchasing isn't a hobby...its an obsession.
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    with almost anything in photography, there are compromises. The aperture that you use is no exception. the larger the aperture, the more contrast the lens produces, the smaller the aperture, the more d.o.f., up to a point.

    usually the best aperture for maximum dof, and the minimum amount of diffraction, is going to be that which gives a working lens size of around 3mm to 5mm (focal length divided by aperture ie, 24/8=3). so with your zoom lens at 24mm, set to infinity, the f stop that is likely to work at its best for landscape is going to be around f5.6 or f8. The lower the better, however it will depend on whiat is the smallest object in the foreground you want to render acceptably sharp. At f8, anything from about 3mm and larger should show up fine throughout the image, with a slight slight loss in contrast over f5.6.

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    Tom, your information regard to "ideal aperture setting: focal length/aperture = between 3-5" in interesting. But I am too stupid and I don't really understand the concept here.

    If convenient, can you please elaborate this a little? Or if you have a URL handy that would explain this concept in details, can you let me know?

    Thanks in advance

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    it's common to hear people recommend a given f stop for landscape, but rarely is the focal length of the lens taken into account. similar to Kym's post on equivelance, you need to take the focal length of the lens into account. a 24mm lens will have more dof than a 50mm lens at the same apertures, and so the common recommendation of f16 stemmed from the 50mm lens, which has been the most popular focal length in 35mm photography over the last 60 years. f16 on a 50mm lens is larger than f16 on a 24mm lens, and so each lens is affected by diffraction in a different way.

    if you shoot with a Digital Camera, then go out into the street and try this for yourself. use a tripod, and rattle off four shots of a few different scenes and compare. Here's one I did a while ago.

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    The advice here is excellent and I can only add some snips of advice...

    As mentioned before - learn to read your histogram - it looks boring and all scientific when your starting out but it will help you learn what your cameras settings are doing... e.g. light and dark points = exposure...

    No perfect settings exist without prior knowledge of the elements - it all depends on the elements you are capturing, time of day, water/land etc.. practice... and note down settings that have worked for particular scenes and use those as a future guide. Use bracketing...

    Show us some results for constructive feedback

    Cheers

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    Tom, I have to read all of your post 4 times at least to start understand what you mean...

    To put it in a dumb way that I can understand:
    The shorter the focal length, the setting of aperture don't need to be too small to gain maximum DoF? Otherwise diffraction will start to occur?

    So I am using a 10-22mm f/3.5....

    apply your formula that you suggest the"lens's focal length / aperture setting = 3<->5"....

    In "infinity" (which is most of the case in Landscape situation):

    My ideal aperture to gain maximum DoF when focal length = 10mm is f/3.5 for my lens (because it's the biggest av setting I can get)

    My ideal aperture to gain maximum DoF when focal length = 22mm is f/5.6 (which = 3.928) or even f/7.1 (which = 3.09) BUT prefer at f/5.6 to retain maximum details to be recorded?

    Please let me know.
    Last edited by andylo; 08-07-2010 at 12:42pm.

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    andy, it is a farily generalised guide, and won't be ideal for every situation, and it does assum infinity focus. you need to decide how critical foreground objects are in the whole image. if you look at my link again, you will see that the infinity focused images do not render the very near foreground as sharp, but have the sharpest rendering in the mid and background. the foreground is acceptable to me, because i can still read the writing, however tiny objects (those small than about 1cm in size) aren't rendered as well. So it's not ideal for every shot.

    in your last expample, this is a decision you need to make based on what you want from your image, just as i have made the decision in my linked post. but try a 22mm lens at f5.6, and then at f16 and see the difference.

    one thing to remember is that if you have the lens at infiinity (which isn't always the best approach, but almost always better than a lenses 'hyperfocal' setting), nothing that is smaller than the aperture in your lens will be rendered acceptably sharp, no matter what distance the object is from the lens. so one way to approach a landscape is to look at the scene, decided what the smallest object that you want to record is going to be (let's say a blade of grass at 4mm), then physically look into your lens and move the aperture ring so that the diaphragm has an aperture of around that size. no need to look at any numbers, or do any calculations.

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