Guide to Landscape Photography
We have produced this photography guide to help you take better photographs of the beautiful scenery you will see on the various walks described on this web site. Only a very basic knowledge of photography is assumed, and many of the points below apply to the most simple and inexpensive cameras.
Good landscape photography does not require the use of expensive equipment. A standard SLR camera and a standard range zoom lens of about 28mm to 80mm are all that is needed. Optional additions would be a telephoto zoom lens of about 80mm to 200mm, a tripod or monopod and a selection of filters.
A standard ISO 100 or ISO 200 setting is perfectly adequate.
Very respectable results can also be achieved using nothing more than a disposable "panoramic" camera costing under £10.
Time of day
The best time to photograph landscapes in summer is late afternoon or early morning when the sun is fairly low in the sky. The midday sun is often too strong and harsh to show the subtle colours of nature in a photograph. During winter the sun is never very high in the sky so the time of day is not critical.
Don't let bad weather put you off. Dark storm clouds can make a picture really dramatic. Dull and overcast weather tend not to produce good landscape photographs but this depends on the scene in question.
With the sun to one side of the camera, shadows fall across the scene and tend to be more attractive. Shooting into the sun at dawn or dusk can produce beautiful silhouettes with colourful skies.
The composition of your photograph is probably the most important thing to get right. Capturing the vastness of a landscape on film will add interest to your picture. This can be achieved by including a simple foreground feature such as a tree, gate or rock. The use of a wide angle lens will also help "lift" the foreground. Make sure a small aperture of around f/16 is set to ensure that all the scene is in focus. Have a look at our feature on hyperfocal focusing to achieve even greater depth of field.
Simply moving from your position a few metres can produce a very different look to a photograph, so take a few shots from different positions.
When photographing a water feature such as a waterfall, a fast shutter speed will "freeze" the motion of the water which can look strange in a picture. Try using a tripod and a slow shutter speed of 1 second or more. This will blur the water and create a feeling of movement in the picture.
A lot of people only take landscape photographs in "landscape" format. Try using a "portrait" format to add depth to the scene. Again, try to include some foreground interest such as a stream or path.
A telephoto lens will enable specific features to be isolated such as an individual tree against a sunset.
Another useful aid to composition is the Rule-of-Thirds.
The most popular filter for landscape photography is the polarising filter. On sunny days, skies will appear a deeper blue, and colours more saturated. Reflections in water can often be reduced or even eliminated with a polarising filter. Rotate the filter to get the best effect.
Other filters such as the 81 range of warm-up filters can improve the appearance of a scene on a dull day or in the very early morning.
Be careful using any filters with wide angle lenses since the corners of the picture can be obscured by the filter mount.
These guidelines are just that - a guide. There is no right or wrong way to take photographs. The important thing is that your photographs turn out the way you want them to, and this guide may help you to achieve that.