Gonna try my hand at this landscape stuff - C&C greatly welcome

Discussion in 'Landscape & Cityscape' started by Overread, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Yep possibly one of my weakest areas because it relies so much upon composition of the shot, I can't get away with a cute animal or amazing macro details here.

    So first of a few that I will slowly work through - views from Cumbria - the Lake District in the UK:

    [​IMG]
    http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4032/4457589479_54bc7a0b80_o.jpg

    f8, 1/250sec, ISO 200
    Taken with Canon 400D and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L (at the 70mm mark).

    Method of shooting - get out of car - point, focus using AF middle point (generally on the middle of the scene as well...) and click. Sadly I didn't spend much time checking the histogram or using a tripod else I might have caught that the overexposure in the shot. I was able to save most of it, barring the main building, the sides of which are totally blown out. I've managed to cut back quite a bit of that overexposure glare effect and the white walls might get away with being rather lacking in details (just) but its not ideal.


    So where is the advice needed - well all over to be honest, landscape is something that I do want to do well, but is a totally new direction to go in. So aside from the exposure error, which I know how to correct for a single shot and also using multiple shot methods (HDR/tonemapping) and also the shooting time (this was not so bad as the light was starting to sofen and I honestly could not have waited in the spot for pure evening light).
    However composition and shooting method - eg focusing. These are areas where I need and welcome input.
     
  2. USM IS

    USM IS TPF Noob!

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    The shade provided by the large tree is all that bothers me. But I'm just a rookie. Composition is.......very........English countryside. Nothing wrong with that......Mike
     
  3. Gaerek

    Gaerek TPF Noob!

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    I actually like the shade from the tree. In landscapes, one of the tricks is to use shadows to your advantage. Overread, I know you're a big macro guy, and your goal typically is to reduce shadows to a bare minimum. With landscapes, shadows (especially dramatic shadows) can make or break a composition. Even though it would have been nicer had it been a bit later (or earlier? can't tell the time this was taken) in the day, the sun is low enough to bring out some very dramtic shadows. I love the shadows cast on the hills by the clouds as well.

    One thing I will recommend (and you mentioned it already) is a tripod. Unless I don't have my tripod with me, I always use it on landscapes. I don't care how much light is in the scene. One of the most important things with a good landscape is tack sharpness. I think a higher f/stop would be a good idea also. I tend to not go below about f/11 for a landscape, and will generally shoot f/13-f/16. I imagine you were just trying to get a nice hand-holdable shutter speed, so f/8 worked for you here.

    You asked for hints on how to focus. I never use autofocus on landscapes. I just set for the hyperfocal distance. There are various methods for doing this, and each will depend on the equipment you have. Another trick I will use if I simply can't use the other methods (which happens when it's too dark to see anything clearly through the viewfinder) is to set a small aperture (at least f/16) focus to infinity, and then back off a little bit. I know it's less than scientific, but it will get you pretty darn close.

    Your composition is really nice here. One thing I look for is elements in the foreground, middleground and background, and I think you've done that well. On this shot, I might have backed the zoom up a little bit in order to make sure the big tree on the left was completely in frame (so it doesn't lead your eye out of the frame), but other than that, I can't see anything terrible about this shot.

    Sorry about the verbose reply. You asked for help, and I tend to ramble. I hope I was some kind of help to you.
     
  4. Chris of Arabia

    Chris of Arabia Herding cats since 1988... Supporting Member

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    I'm fairly certain I've walked up that big one at the back more than once.
     
  5. Mesoam

    Mesoam TPF Noob!

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    pretty darn good, i would have liked if the edge of the tree on the left wasn't cropped

    overall though, this is a great image that you can come back to and see a new thing every time

    land scape is really a great format for true HDR images, you will always get a great range of tones, especially with texture from the ground to the sky

    a good thing to keep in mind for landscape if a focal point, in this image the white house really draws your eye. Landscapes typically have so much going on a good focal point will help bring the image together
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Many thanks for the input and the compliments all :)

    Gaerek - you make an excelent point on shadows and my macro work, though I would say its not a macro such feature, but more one that I try to reduce so that I can show details in the subject. It's not till you mentioned it though that I really thought about it and my other work and you are right it does affect how I tend to edit and if I am not carefull things can start to head down the overdone HDR rout - its not the look I "want" from many shots (I like shadows too) but it does tend to show the most detail in a scene which I also like.
    You are kind of right on the aperture as well, though it was mostly a me in a "pick a decent sharp aperture - heck just go for f8" rather than any specific thought ;) I'll keep in mind what you say as a few other landscape shooters have said the same and try out f11 and f13.
    Many thanks on the focus aspects - the idea of just backing of a little from infinity is something that I recall reading before now from others so I am certain to give it a try along with sitting down to properly learn about hyperfocal focusing.

    I'm also glad to see a good overall reaction from many to the composition - shows that I am slowly learning that aspect of photography now that I have the techincal mostly under control!

    And no worries about the long reply (if you ever see mine they tend to go that way as well) and a nice detailed reply is a fantastic thing to get back on ones work.

    Mesoam - thanks and yes you are right the focal point in this scene was easy for me to see at the time - the white building. A lot of the time I see great sights, but finding that key interesting focal point is a lot harder for me to pin down sometimes. Otheretimes I curse the fact that I don't have a neat wide angle lens to use (I dislike my kit lens...)
     
  7. pbelarge

    pbelarge TPF Noob!

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    Overread
    I opened the larger photo you linked to. It shows a lot more detail of your shot.

    1. The mountains in the backround are much lighter in color, with more sun on them then the foreground has. This makes it harder to get the 'whole' picture in the proper exposure. There are methods of shooting to correct this. One is to try bracketing. Set your exposure to shoot at least 3 different exposures. When I do this, I set my shutter for a delay. I compose the shot, hold my breath and depress the button. I try to prop myself against something so as to be as still as possible. (sometimes I review my shots and you would think there was an earthquake) I take my tripod whereever I go, I do not mind the extra weight. But there are times one has to hold the camera by hand, especially when there are a bunch of cars honking their horns. ;)
    This will help you to be able to bring in the shadows for the effect that Gaerek was discussing.

    2. I know you jumped out of your car to take this pretty quickly, I am assuming there was other traffic.
    I like to try to take more than one angle at a shot like this. Looking at them later on a larger screen will help to determine which shot you like better. I also try to take different aperture shots-bracketing as well. Some shots just work better at different apertures, and I am not good enough to know which, when.

    I love the composition, I want to move into that house.
    This is probably a much better shot than you believe it is.
     

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