Landscape Photography

I

Iron Flatline

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Hi all.

I'm going to Joshua Tree National Park next week with the express of goal of doing some photography. Problem is that I'm a city kid, and I've never done landscape photography. Any and all pointers are welcome. I am seeking advice on equipment (long lens vs. wide lens) and obvious technique help.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to shoot, but will probably not do huge vistas. I may collect some shots and stitch them later, but it's not the kind of photography I'm drawn to. I'll probably focus on shots with trees, rocks and cactuses in various medium settings.

I shoot digital: Canon D5 with a 16-35 L 2.8, and a 28-135 3.5-5.6 IS. There's various places in town that rent all kinds of gear, so if anyone feels strongly I can easily go and rent a big telephoto zoom.
 

Alpha

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Unless you're doing wildlife photography, you don't need telephoto lenses at all. My recommendation would be to take several prime (fixed) lenses of different length with you. Most of your work will probably be wider angle, as telephoto landscape photography is practically an oxymoron. Shoot with the aperture as narrow as you can. You'll get super-crisp landscapes. Good luck.
 

Oldfireguy

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Having never been there and not knowing what the place looks like or even where it is makes it little harder. I don't know if you are hiking or driving to the places you want to shoot.

I take two bodies, an F-100 and a D2X, 18-70, 70-200, 80-400, a tripod, cable release for both, extra film and cards, rain cover of some type, a hand held light meter, a flashlight, and something to eat just in case I get lost or hurt, my cell phone for the same reason. If I was going to walk for miles I would lighten the load or if I'm in the mountains maybe something to spend the night in. Sometimes a laptop to download into.

I tend to plan for the worse.

I know I'm forgetting something but that's about it and it works for me.
 

woodsac

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Iron Flatline said:
Hi all.

I'm going to Joshua Tree National Park next week with the express of goal of doing some photography. Problem is that I'm a city kid, and I've never done landscape photography. Any and all pointers are welcome. I am seeking advice on equipment (long lens vs. wide lens) and obvious technique help.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to shoot, but will probably not do huge vistas. I may collect some shots and stitch them later, but it's not the kind of photography I'm drawn to. I'll probably focus on shots with trees, rocks and cactuses in various medium settings.

I shoot digital: Canon D5 with a 16-35 L 2.8, and a 28-135 3.5-5.6 IS. There's various places in town that rent all kinds of gear, so if anyone feels strongly I can easily go and rent a big telephoto zoom.
With the full frame D5, both of those lenses are excellent choices! I shoot the majority of my landscapes with the 17-85mm IS. But...I've the crop factor from my 350D. I do however, find myself on a regular basis needing more zoom than the 85mm. It all depends on the layout of the landscape. Sometimes, at your widest angle, the photo looses some of the drama due to unwanted objects in the frame. Remember, you might not be able to get close to everything to utilize that wide lens, so you'll need a little zoom, but not much.
 
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Iron Flatline

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fredcwdoc, I'm doing this very low-maintenance. My best friend has been there dozens of times and is an experienced hiker, but we plan on hiking no more than a mile or two from various parking lots. Joshua Tree is in the Mojave Desert, near Death Valley - a lot of red rocks, sparse + arid landscape, with intermittent gnarly flora. Not a lot of animals, except scorpions, tarantulas, and rattle snakes.
 

hobbes28

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We had our first TPF meetup at Josua Tree NP. You can see lots of pictures from there here, here, here,
here, or here.

We brought the telephotos as well as the primes. I shot with the 18-70 for most of the trip just for the flexibility and Alison shot mostly with the 80-200 for the same reason. I'd bring a small but good range of lens (maybe two), some filters, extra batteries, CF cards and put it all in a backpack type bag so it will be comfortable for the hiking. Tamrac makes the expedition series which would work well.

As for the landscape photos, I always try to remember to not split the picture in the middle with landscape/sky. Aim for more of one or the other to take up more of the frame. Find some new angles of approach vs. just standing and shooting like a tourist (get low or find a good rock to take from a high pov). Lastly, I try to have an idea of what picture I'd like to have way before I even have the camera ready to shoot so I don't search the scenery with the viewfinder. Most of all is to have fun. If you're not doing that, it will show in your pictures. :D
 

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Iron Flatline said:
Hi all.
I'll probably focus on shots with trees, rocks and cactuses in various medium settings.

yes, one of the things i find with shooting landscapes is, the ones that jump out at you the most when your clicking through the images at home, are the ones with the best focal points and composition. Shots can have more interest if there's a focal point in both the fg and bg, also decide whether the shot requires more sky (working on rule of thirds).. or more land... this is a tricky decision, so if theres something of interest to shoot, i tend to do both variations, but if the skie's rubbish i just do the latter. Also to add, i dont know how warm it is over there at the moment, but here shooting in the city or just out and about its fairly mild.... but as soon as i hit the great outdoors your hands can freeze so very quickly and it makes the whole experience uncomfortable.... if its like this where you are, i'd recomend fingerless gloves. Lastly, just enjoy it, for me there's nothing better than being out in the countyside with all my gear.... just dont get to do it as often as i'd like.
 

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wow, it looks awsome there hobbes... good links :thumbup:
 

Digital Matt

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If it were me, and I had your lenses, I'd use that 16-35 an awful lot, on a good sturdy tripod with a cable release. I'd also get there very early each morning, and stay till very late :)
 

ThomThomsk

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Equipment - what you've listed, plus a set of graduated neutral density filters for those situations where the contrast range between the sky and the ground is too great for your sensor to handle. Lots of people have mentioned a tripod, and they are quite right.

Time wise, the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset (and a little either side of both) are sometimes known as the Golden Hour. If you try to shoot broad landscapes when the sun is too high the results can be flat and uninteresting, but no need to put the camera away, just look for the details in your scene, the macro stuff, and shoot that.

Thomsk
 

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