The Beauty of Shooting At 24mm

Canon 24mm lens
Have you ever questioned what is so special about shooting in 24mm? Or, have you ever wondered what focal length is good for landscapes is but in no way been quite sure what it is? The reality is that there are a lot of angles you can quite easily photograph your landscape with. Each time you zoom in or out, you will be altering the complete look and sense of your photo. Let’s look more intimately at the 24mm viewpoint. Why is it so good?

There are many wonderful things about photographing at 24mm. I use a Canon lens at 24mm for landscapes. The best 24mm lens is one that will tend to continuously supply you with an terrific range or width.  Any Canon 24mm lens (or Nikon 24mm lens) has the ability to get rid of the awful “warp” that comes with subjects taken too close with the ultra wide lenses. If you are unfamiliar with what this means, simply head to the Internet and search for a few wide angle photographs of tall structures taken up close with lenses less than 17mm. In some landscape photography situations it can work well, and in others it does not. From time to time, when you shoot at an ultra wide angle, the landscape you are shooting can look like it’s bulging in the center. If this happens, then why not try taking pictures at 24mm?

When shooting landscape photography we want to strive for “wide”, but not “bending” in the heart of the photo, as some ultra wide angle lenses can generate. This is where the magnificent 24mm focal length comes in. It produces a wide scene without looking unnatural. Not only is it a wonderful overall length to photograph at, but you can photograph at 24mm to generate panoramas. What I mean is 24mm makes for a beautiful individual photo AND it can be a great shooting measurement to stitch several single photos together to create a panorama.

You see if you took a handful of shots taken at 17mm or less, and stitched them together, you may indeed see an awkward bulge. This is what happens when ultra wide shots are stitched to make a single panorama. Unless you are trying to produce a fish-eye effect it will not work properly. When shooting with 24mm this terrible outcome does not happen. We are left with a wide angle perfect for for a single photo and just right  to create a series of photos for a panorama.

To get a better idea of the excellence of the normal 24mm wide angle lens, ask yourself does the photo have a real looking perspective? For example, do you sense any unnatural warping or bending in the horizon line or along the foreground? No, we can’t. That is more often than not a sign that the 24mm focal length is just right for the application.

Is this 24mm lens as a rule “wide enough”? Yes it is. And the beauty about this focal length is that we can bring three individual images at 24mm and create a superb panoramic scene. Some lenses that are ultra wide, such as the 17mm or less, can bulge a panorama a lot.

You can take a series of shots taken from the same view and using a tripod to make sure good results. Then use Panorama Maker Pro 6 photo editing software to merge or stitch the shots together into a sole frame. You will discover that 24mm is most ideal because it does not bulge the panorama in the heart as a 17mm series of photos would.

Once you stitch your 24mm photo sequence together then examine if the image is effective because of the extra surroundings at the edges. The answer is going to be relative because it has to do more with personal preference and the intention of the photographer.

Once you have stitched a handful of 24mm photos together to create a sole panorama, sit back, and have a good look at it. You will find that it looks like a realistic scene.

How To Do Landscape Photography

 

Photographing landscapes is one of the most gratifying forms of photography. Not only do you have the chance to photograph spectacular images for your friends or workplace, but you can produce canvases, large prints and even presents for others. How to take excellent landscapes relies upon on a few very key aspects. The light you shoot in and your photographic lens are the two prime features that make gorgeous landscape photos.

How to take landscape photos

First, before I go into finer details about these two techniques, let’s look at how to take photos of landscapes. You will require a camera that is able to be clipped on to a sturdy tripod. Then of course you need a tripod. A tripod is what gives you very sharp and clearer photographs. We use a tripod for landscapes because we would like to be able to hold the camera free from camera shake. Having a camera that is absolutely still enables us to get sharp photos in many different types of daylight.

A shutter release cable is one more handy tool that is often a big part of mastering your photographing landscapes methods. A remote shutter cord is a little cable with a push button at one end. You can join the cable into your camera and activate the shutter, just by pressing down a push button on the end of the cable. It means you do not have to handle your camera in any way. This raises your probability of gaining even sharper photos.

Lenses for landscape photography

Now that you have your camera, tripod and shutter release cable, now what? Immediately we come to our photographic lens. There are many different varieties of lenses for photographing landscapes. It can be hard to select one if you have not mastered photographing landscapes before. One of the best and sharpest lenses is called a prime lens. This means it does not zoom out and in . It can’t. It remains at an unchanging focal length. As a consequence of this immobility, your landscape photographs become sharper and clearer than if you used a zoom lens.

If you want to shoot a huge, expansive look to your landscape images, then I suggest researching at your camera manufacturer’s wide angle and ultra wide angle lenses. A wide angle lens is a focal length of about 24mm to 40mm. An ultra wide angle lens is even wider and can be about 14mm-17mm. There are many lenses to select from.

Landscape camera settings

There is never any ideal camera setting for a landscape shot. However there are some accepted suggestions to take pictures of landscapes. To begin with the aim of photographing landscapes is to create striking, sharp images with superb light. Before we get into light, I would like to explain that a smaller f stop is more often than not what landscape photographers shoot at. A lesser f stop, such as F22, is what is regarded as an ideal aperture for landscapes. This is purely because it facilitates our camera to focus properly into the distance. If you are shooting at a middle distance of ten to twenty meters away F13 or higher works absolutely fine too. You will certainly have to take your light into consideration.

 


The perfect lighting for photographing landscapes

I have to admit it. I am very surprised there is not more written on getting the right light for landscape photography because it is so vital. I’ve left it till last; because I want to focus your attention on the most critical facet of landscape photography.

The reason why a landscape photo looks so colourful and superb is because of the lighting. Without good lighting a landscape photo can look boring  and lacking in interest. And no level of photography gear will answer this problem.

The greatest time of day to photograph your landscape is in the early morning or late afternoon. This filtered light is called sweet light. You will find that the light is subtle and gently vibrant . At morning and late afternoon the light, hues and tones give your scene a completely different appearance to the heart of the day. Photographing in the mid summer sunlight can create unwelcome shadows, washed out colours and a general lack of intensity. Working in a gentle light gives us back those soft colours, muted tones and gentle skies. There are generally no harsh and awful shade ruining our landscape scenes.

Photographing landscapes editing techniques

Once you have your fixed lens, camera set up on your tripod, small aperture and ideal lighting you can fire off a whole series of images to your hearts content! I know I certainly do. Once you have created your lovely landscape imageyou can then bring it home for editing. Finding the right photo editing techniques for landscapes isn’t that tricky. You must first know what you are aiming to attain. Some of us love to turn a landscape photo into a black and white shot. Others love to maintain the soft, muted colours that mornings can offer. Some of us love to create different effects altogether to add more drama and impact to produce an almost apocalyptic appearance to our landscape photos.

The main thing is to keep your shots clear, wide and colourful. Work to have your photo looking clear and colourful. This means you may have to amplify the sharpness a little using the smart sharpen tool in Photoshop. For Lightroom followers, open up the Detail panel and improve the sharpening, radius and detail sliders to the right hand side.

Increasing the colour vibrancy can do wonders for your landscape photo. You will detect that most landscapes contain outstanding colour. That is as a result of increase in certain colours throughout the scene. It is also due to a general increase in colour vibrancy right through the whole photo. Don’t increase the colour too much; you don’t want dark greens to look bright green or soft pinks of wildflowers to look hot pink. It will just look out of place. Keep the colours natural looking as possible, but just enhance the presence of colour.

High Dynamic Range

If you have difficulty producing shadows that are too dark and highlights that are way too bright, then try HDR. This is an tremendous landscape editing technique that can really rescue your photos. You take 3 different photos. The first is two stops under exposed. The second is perfectly exposed and the third is two stops over exposed. This will convey natural highlights to your shadows and tone down your highlights to a more natural looking appearance.

Photographing landscapes ideas

Based on where you live, you may have many possibilities. In case you are stuck for ideas then try these. A beach scene, waterfalls, a freeway from a bird’s eye vision, a city scene at twilight, a long open road, mountain range with hanging fog, a grassland with flowers and even a paddock with creatures grazing in the background. You can see that there are endless opportunities for brilliant landscape photography.
Photographing landscapes relies upon on your lighting, lens and sharpness. You don’t have to have an classy digital camera to take superbly stunning landscape photos. You can depend on the things I have taught you and in no time at all you will be on your way to producing stunning photos.

Gallery

How To Create Panoramic Photography Faster And Quicker Than Before

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Understanding the way to learning how to do panoramic photography is one of the most exciting and fun things in photography. You can produce thousands of photos that look beautiful on your wall or home office. It’s not only a … Continue reading

How Tripods Help You Get Better Landscape Photos

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Photo by Roque Corona

In your landscape photography you will find that the majority is probably with a tripod. But each type of photography uses different tools. Photographers that do sports photography like to use a hand-held strategy so they can get the shot quickly. The last thing they want is to be fiddling with a tripod when they could be shooting the football player who has just won the goal for their team. Instead, they ‘ll choose a monopod which has greater flexibility and gives them greater access to the series of shots they want.

Tripods are brilliant for nature and landscape shots. But sometimes they are bulky and cumbersome. When you are shooting your landscapes it can be a pain in the backside lugging the tripod up a mountain or a steep hill just to get to the top to get that perfect shot when the sun is just right. But as painful as this is, when you look at your photos afterward, you’ll most likely say “wow, it was worth it.”

One of the great things about tripods is that they allow you to capture that beautifully, gentle light you see during a sunset, just before twilight. Twilight has a sweet light, and just before that there are some pretty fantastic photographic opportunities.

You’ll no doubt find that as dusk blankets the land the more photos you take the more blur you get. There’s no other time of day that feels like light changes than dusk. It feels like light is just slipping through your fingers like sand through an hour glass. And its during this time that you need to keep that camera rock-steady.

If you are in the unfortunate situation of not having a tripod st this magical time you can always boost your ISO from the mid range 400 to a higher 800. This will increase the light sensitivity quite a lot. You’ll find more noise that way but you can always fix this in Noise Ninja or other photographic post editing software.

A tripod is not only good for dusk and for very low light situations such as getting crystal clear night shots. Anytime you want to slow down your shutter speed a tripod becomes the necessity.

Perfect Landscape Photography

Last week I was away on a family matter. (All okay.) On the way back I detoured through some delicious landscapes, valleys, and rolling hills. Soon I’ll post some of these pictures and talk about how I got the shots and what I specifically did to get them.

I live in Queensland, Australia now, as a change from Melbourne Victoria. Queensland is a subtropical state which doesn’t really have a winter, as opposed to Melbourne which pretty much has a winter 8 months of the year. So as you can imagine the adjustment is quite significant.

There are some fantastic photo opportunities up here and I’ve taken some of them. The “winter” light in Queensland is probably the best light all year. It softens hard lines, shapes and distinct sharpness.

So stay tuned and you’ll get to see some images. Promise. 🙂

Amy Renfrey

The Truth About Neutral Density Filters

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Picture courtesy of http://www.geocities.com/COKINFILTERSYSTEM/graduated_filters.htm

This week one of my loyal customers asked me a brilliant question about Neutral Density filters. It was so good I just had to answer it via this article. You’ll most likely appreciate this digital photography tip as much as he will.

A question, I want to get a graduated filter, however, all the one’s I see are graduated grey, are they still ND and will not affect the colour? Very best regards, Pete.”

What Pete’s digital photography question is all about is the common confusion of photography equipment looking like something different to what we first expect.

When choosing a filter for our digital photography its best to first look at them as tools. Firstly in order to maintain clarity about ND filters, firstly think about what you need then work your way from there. Pete’s a fantastic photographer and is ready to move to the next level with his digital photography equipment choices, which is where I come in.

The answer to Petes digital photography question is yes, they are still ND, but like all filters, the colour will be affected. I’ll explain.

ND filters are predominately used to darken a bright sky so that both the sky and subject can be properly exposed. Graduated ND filters have varying degrees of “graduated grey.” The Graduated ND filter comes in a few different types, but can really be broken down into two main categories. They are; hard edge and soft edge.

As the name suggested a Hard Edge is mainly applied when there is a sudden difference in the luminance of the digital photo, such as an overexposed sky over a landscape. The soft edge filter is mainly applied to a digital photo that has less distinct over and under exposed areas such as the same landscape but perhaps taken at approaching dusk when the light is not do hard. A soft filter just gently tones down harder areas of light. It’s less dramatic and can often be used very well in black and white photography to give the digital photo a “boost” of the dramatic.

You can have a variety of ND filters that go from a weak graduated grey to quite a strong graduated grey. The “intensity” of graduated grey is described by numbers. So for example a weak graduated grey ND filter is known as “ND2X”. And the strongest is “ND8X”.

All filters affect digital photography colour whether subtly or dramatically. You can have an ND filter that’s quite soft but still darkens an area of the digital photography image. Even though it’s subtle, anything you put onto that lense will be affected. But it depends what we mean by “affected.”

If we mean the colours disappear and change completely…well a lot depends on that such as the intensity of grey, the colour at the time of day, the seasons etc. If you are using a Full graduation from top to bottom then your colours will most definitely change. They will become darker. However if you are using a less intense ND filter, then you’ll notice the change in colour is not as apparent. You‘ll notice that the lighter ND filters will have more of a polarizing affect, the darker areas being at the top and not so much shading at the bottom.

Graduated ND filters are brilliant in times of excessive brightness coming from the top of the sky for example. You can use an ND filter to darken an overly bright sky and keep the main subject’s luminance the same. It has a terrific influence over evening up unbalanced light. It can effectively tone down over exposed areas in your digital photography.

Happy Shooting,

Amy Renfrey

High Dynamic Range In Digital Photography

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If you have ever wanted to improve your digital photography then you may want to consider learning about High Dynamic Range. If you have heard of this term in digital photography, but are not sure what it is, then keep reading because it will serious change the way you look at your digital photography images. What High Dynamic range does in your digital photography is simultaneously lighten your underexposed areas and darken your overexposed areas. Working with your Dynamic Range will aim to create digital photography images as your own eye would see them; even light all over the scene.

In the digital photography world Dynamic Range simply refers to the range of light (luminance) vales from the darkest to brightest. In the real world is really the range of dark to bright sections of light that you can see with the naked eye. This is transferred to digital photography and it given the name Dynamic Range. Digital Photography Dynamic Range is the range of light on your digital camera sensor that can be captured without having the higher light or lower light values altered or edited. In digital photography speak High Dynamic Range simply means a higher range of light values.

You will notice that after understanding Dynamic Range that your digital photography can be improved dramatically and, very fast. Digital photography Dynamic range can improve aspects of your image such as adding a sense of drama to your cloudy landscapes, giving detail to lines of colour, toning down some overexposed parts of light sections of a digital image.

You may find that when photographing things outdoors in your digital photography such as landscapes, beach and snowscapes etc, you have a lot of contrasting highlights that slow your progress down. To overcome sections of high contrast you can use ND filters, a polariser, exposure bracketing, post editing in Photoshop etc, etc, the list goes on what you can do in digital photography but really, to get a more accurate exposure working with your Dynamic Range will be more effective.

You can get a good idea of digital photography Dynamic when you go outside and look at the light. For example High Dynamic Range is the bright sunlight on a typical outdoor, sunlit scene. In saying that, a Low Dynamic Range may correspond to darker areas such as a dimly lit room.

Let’s take my Sony digital camera to use as an example. It has 6 stops of Dynamic Range. The Dynamic range’s objectives are to capture more dynamic range. While it’s easy to capture daylight scenes with the Sony, in some instances like landscapes, more Dynamic Range might be needed. So in this case producing my High Dynamic Range requires that I take some separate exposures. Then I place all of the brightness levels that I want in my final image that my Sony’s sensor can record properly. What this means is putting the darkest values no lower than in the mid-range of the sensors light sensitivity range.

In the wonderful Adobe Photoshop I may decide to take a handful of exposures to cover the complete dynamic range. In each photo exposure I keep the aperture the same (changing aperture changes the depth of field). My aim here is to create different photos making sure that in each I cover the available brightness levels in the landscape.

I take a collection of photos of my landscape at about 1 stop changes in each photo. I don’t do this by altering the f stop I do this via my shutter speed. To check whether I’ve got variation in my exposures I can check the histogram to see whether I have adequately captured the scenes brightness.

Once I have all my exposures in the camera I go home and check it out in Adobe Photoshop. What I should be able to do then is edit them and create a picture as my own eye would see; good lighting on the foreground and good lighting on the background, without over exposure of the sky or underexposure of darker parts of the land.

Have fun and happy shooting!

Amy Renfrey

Getting That “Powerful” Effect In Landscape Photography

A great place to begin your landscape photography experience is a place that inspires you. A place that you absolutely love will make it easier for you to connect with the scene and make the scene look as good as possible. If you don’t live near the Swiss Alps or a Tropical Island and live in the city like me, with no special scenery around, then you’re in for a drive. As you are driving to your special location don’t hurry, just take a relaxed pace, and when you get there completely relax and reflect creatively on the surroundings. Then think about what you would like to see in a photograph. Really look at the scene and examine it in this way.

Getting into this relaxed and reflective frame of mind will help you relax and take better landscape photos because your mind will be able to concentrate on getting a good picture. Then you will tend to take shots where they enhance the scene, rather than just take ‘snaps’. Your special scene is a chance to create a magnificent piece of art with your digital camera.

The landscape pictures I’ve seen that don’t work visually are those with too much in the photograph. A nice beach can be ruined by several ships, houses on the bay, hard light, people displaced in the photo and so forth. Such a crowded picture can be quite distracting. So if you want ‘wow’ shots, then use less distraction in the shot, and go for a composition that focuses on simple shapes, lines and forms. If you are doing colour landscape pictures, then look for the colour that stands out the most and ask yourself how you can enhance it with the tools you have available.

Look for a foreground that’s going to have impact on your eye. A good landscape shot has a foreground that is commanding, as if you are magnetized by it and just have to look. Keep the attention on the majesty of the scene rather than things in the background that take the attention away, (leaving you unsure of where to look at the image). When looking at the scene to be photographed for the first time, you want to take notice of the subject in the foreground then see that the area around it (one after the other). The main subject should be the thing with the most presence in the shot.

Remember simplicity is the key, so the context of the scene should not detract from your subject; (make sure the “ski lodge” at the side of the landscape scene doesn’t detract from looking at the mountain range). It must work in with the mountain range, not against it. It must compliment the mountain range. Your subject doesn’t have to be one item like a rock or tree; it can be a sweeping coastline or a huge body of water, a mountain range or a desert scene like the one taken below above by Neil Gould.

Keep taking as many as you can to get as much practice as you can, whilst applying these simple tips.

Best wishes,

Amy Renfrey