Need help getting into Landscape Photography

RiaoraCreations

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Hi there!
I usually really enjoy shooting in macro, even though I am mostly a beginner/hobby photographer. I'm essentially self taught, and as a hobby, I've been doing ok, but my boss would like me to take photos of our work in High-Def for our website. I work in golf course landscaping, and we mainly install annual flowers. Every time I attempt to photograph a flower bed, it just looks dull and not interesting. Currently, I shoot with a Canon SL1, I have the EFS 18-55mm as a walk-around lens, a 50mm for macro, and a 75-300mm for telephoto. My boss told me to go ahead and get the equipment I need to get high-res shots, so I looked into tripods, polarized lens covers, wide angle lenses, remote releases, lens hoods, and the like, but I just don't know what I need. I'd like to stay in a budget, but it's a much larger one than if I was purchasing equipment for myself. I live in Southwest florida, so intense sun is my nemesis (I think).
Does anyone have any suggestions for equipment or literally anything that would be useful for me?
 

astroNikon

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Can you provide examples of your current pictures ?
And a budget amount ?

That's a good place to start then people can critique your photo techniques and go from there.
 

Buckster

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Find pictures online that are the kinds of images you'd like to be able to produce, and try to emulate them.

Pay particular attention to the backgrounds, colors, size and placement of the various elements in the frame, DOF, etc.
 

tirediron

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This isn't an equipment problem, this is an experience problem. A project like this is not as simple as buying some gear, pointing and shooting. One of the key aspects will be shooting at the right time of day. Shooting out of doors with the sun high in the sky leads to contrasty, flat-toned images with little appearl. The time closer to sunset/sunrise, knows as the 'golden hour' will likely be optimal, as will overcast days, just after rain. A polarizing filter is potentially useful, but again, you need to understand how to use it, and what it can and cannot do for you. If you really want to pull this off, then you need to concentrate on education. YouTube is a great resource; search for "golden hour", "landscape photography" and similar terms. Look at photographs that are similar to those you want to produce and reverse engineer them. Determine the time of day, angle of the sun, weather, etc, etc and work to that.
 
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RiaoraCreations

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A lot of what I'm currently photographing is when we first install the plants, so the blooms aren't too interesting yet. I understand the concept of golden hours, as well as shooting post-rain or on overcast days. I've been attempting to locate images to go by, but not many exist that are similar to what I need. Most golf course shots have interesting mountains or hills in the background, Naples is pretty flat, and I'm photographing the flowers, not necessarily the course. I was thinking about dragging around a ladder and getting shots from above, but I haven't gotten there quite yet.
Smaller qw.jpg
smaller kensington.jpg
 

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When the boss says; "hi-def", is he wanting HDR? Do you know what he is looking for? Can you post some links to examples of what he is looking for?

Right; experience will help your shots.

#1 is shot in high sunlight, meaning that if you had arrived earlier in the day or wait a while, you would get better light.

#2 has a shadow spoiling the shot.

Knowing how to get better light or compensate for bad light will help a lot.

After that, then I think just a bit of editing will get you what the boss wants.

BTW: if you want somebody here to attempt to bring these photos up a bit, change your personal settings to allow editing.
 

Dave442

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That camera and 18-55 lens will work fine. I would take some time looking at some good photographs of flower beds and golf courses.

How do your clients usually show their locations and how can you show it look better with your flowerbeds. I have a friend that does landscaping and his sales tool is a set of before/during/after photos of the site. For a website I think the flowers at their best are what a customer will want to see, not what it looks like right after the installation (that is fine for the particular client as part of the progress report).

#1) Horizon is right in middle. Need plants with flowers in bloom in the lower left corner as the lead-in.
#2) Looks like you were just walking up and grabbed a snapshot. The flowerbed needs to be much closer (right now is not the main subject). If your going to shoot at the wider angles be aware that some correction for verticals (the leaning palms) in post can crop off part of the image (so leave some room).
 

480sparky

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Just a few critiques on the two you posted:

The first one has the horizon right in the middle. This is generally a no-no in landscape. If the clouds & sky are the subject, then aim the camera up. If the plants are the subject, aim down.

On the second, there's three minor problems I see right off. One is the image isn't symmetrical. You're just a bit off to the left. Moving over a step or two to the right should rectify that. The second is the image isn't level. This can be corrected with software by rotating the image. Third: I'm sure the house is the main subject of the image, but that danged tree is right in the way. That really kills the shot for me. I know you can't just take a chain saw to it, so look for another angle to highlight the house better.
 
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RiaoraCreations

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We generally focus on the landscaping, not so much the buildings. And the boss wants to show the progression of how the plants grow, from installation to the end of the season (most people think that flowers go in the ground and suddenly look like a disney world flower bed). I am going to be watching a lot of youtube videos to get up on what not to do, but considering before we began work on our website my boss thought that cell phone pictures were high quality, I'm relatively ahead of the game.... I need clear, crisp images with bright colors that do justice to our work. I can photoshop out messy parking lot debris, and whatnot, but there's a lot I just have to grasp. The boss wants me to spend all day out shooting, but I guess it will have to be limited to one club per day for the golden hour. Our rainy season has ended, so it should be clear skies and intense sun from now until April-ish.
 

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vintagesnaps

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You need to learn more about composition and exposure.

If you want to make the flowers/gardens look good, you need to make the buildings and parking lot and body of water etc. all help make the flowers look good. Otherwise you could just end up with visual distractions that draw the viewer's attention away instead of having a photo that shows what you want viewers to see. Use the backgrounds to enhance the subject in a composition not distract from it.

And learn to get a proper exposure. All the equipment in the world can't take good pictures without a knowledgeable photographer using it.
 

KmH

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Yep.
+1 on learn more about composition, exposure, how to effectively meter the light, and how to accomplish both pre and post production of your photos.

The consistent production of high quality photos mostly the results from photographer knowledge and skill.
 

Dave442

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That second shot, not sure if it is yours, is what I was talking about. Flowers in the foreground shot at a wide angle and they are going off into the distance and there is fairway and green on one side and walkway on the other to give a good sense of location. While this has sun coming in I would keep that to a shot or two and not overdo it, and especially at first as you need to see how your lens handles light directly hitting the lens as it can cause flare that is hard to eliminate.

Sounds like fun, I'm sure you will learn a lot.
 

soufiej

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Hi there!
I usually really enjoy shooting in macro, even though I am mostly a beginner/hobby photographer. I'm essentially self taught, and as a hobby, I've been doing ok, but my boss would like me to take photos of our work in High-Def for our website. I work in golf course landscaping, and we mainly install annual flowers. Every time I attempt to photograph a flower bed, it just looks dull and not interesting. Currently, I shoot with a Canon SL1, I have the EFS 18-55mm as a walk-around lens, a 50mm for macro, and a 75-300mm for telephoto. My boss told me to go ahead and get the equipment I need to get high-res shots, so I looked into tripods, polarized lens covers, wide angle lenses, remote releases, lens hoods, and the like, but I just don't know what I need. I'd like to stay in a budget, but it's a much larger one than if I was purchasing equipment for myself. I live in Southwest florida, so intense sun is my nemesis (I think).
Does anyone have any suggestions for equipment or literally anything that would be useful for me?


A tripod will automatically up your image quality once you learn to use to correctly. No need for a remote release, use the self timer in the SL1. And set the camera to mirror lock up. Read about this feature in the owner's manual or you'll be frustrated with the camera not taking a shot when you depress the shutter release or use the timer.

The shots you've provided do all seem to be taken during midday which will result in flat images and possibly blown out highlights.

IMO you're at a bit of a disadvantage when you discuss this with your boss. Your boss may not understand the concepts of good landscape photography and it kinda sounds as though you don't yet know enough to tell him what's possible and what isn't. The camera only records what you instruct it to photograph and it's your job to know when and how to best use the equipment for ideal results.

I wouldn't be showing a client any wide shots taken immediately after planting. If you boss wishes to clarify to the client most plantings do take some time to perk up and fill in , then show a more close in view of several plants immediately after they have been put in the ground. Don't show the entire plot as most of us know what bare soil looks like. Follow up after the area has progressed to show a before, during and after group of images.

Your lens selection is not really set up for macro. Close in, yes. Macro, no. If you have the older 50mm, then that lens is not well suited to getting in close. But, are you after a photo of a bee on a flower?

How will your images be displayed? This tells you a lot about resolution, shooting angle and focal length you might want. If your images are reduced to fit a brochure, then they are rather tiny. If you're displaying these images on a computer screen then you need to be sure they look good at maximum magnification. A good deal of this work will occur in post production.

Surely, there are industry magazines and web sites you can study. Basically, you're after, I would assume, a look not too different from any "Home and Garden" magazine's how to make your front yard pop article. So study those images.

Right now everything you've shown has been from a standing position. Add diversity by moving around and up and down. Same ol' same ol' gets to be same ol' I think I'll go somewhere else now.

If I were you at this point, I'd schedule a day (at least) where you can simply stand in one place and shoot photos of the plantings hour by hour. That should give you and idea of why certain times of the day are superior to others.

If you have a local camera shop, go talk to them. Rent a few diffusers, reflectors and possibly an external, supplemental light source for a day. Play with these and decide just how useful they might be to your present knowledge base. Even a photo of a single daffodil can be made better with creative lighting techniques and you can extend your quality shooting time when you have more control over the light and shadows.

If you're good at Photoshop, most of the touch up can be produced after the fact. Filters (polarizers, UV, etc) are in Photoshop, no?



Mostly, for now, see what others have done in the field you wish to shoot. Do your best to backwards engineer each shot you like. Remember, it's likely impossible for a Home and Garden magazine to show up with one photographer with one camera and call that sufficient.
 

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