Some landscapes seem surreal, so beautiful and vast are they. There is a part of me that wants to hold onto that beauty and keep the feeling of that incredible vastness with me forever. There seems to be a yearning for it; for the colours, the shapes, the way the clouds seems to endlessly float across the sky. For the way the wind blows through the trees and moves with effortless grace. That is why I want to capture a beautiful landscape.
It also feels to me that I am the only person in the world who sees this landscape this way and by capturing it I am able to show it to other people and say to them, “Look what I have seen. Look where I have been. Look at what this world has to offer.”
Here at Londolozi we are surrounded by beautiful landscapes, which represent Africa in its most impressive form.
Photographically, it is difficult to capture exactly what the eye sees and so you can land up with a shot which is flat, lacks interest and just does not do the scene any justice. However, by following a few simple guidelines, you can go a long way towards ensuring your landscape photograph is representative of what was actually in front of you.
Here, then, are my 7 top tips for capturing a scene’s natural beauty:
Choose an Interesting Spot
Londolozi has beautiful Koppies, interesting clearings, airy Leadwood forests, busy water crossings and eye-dropping starry night skies. Once you have chosen one of these exquisite spots, walk around and get a sense of the surroundings before setting up your equipment. Find a place to shoot from, be creative and don’t just settle for the first place that you stop at, as this is probably where everyone else would take the shot from.
Foreground, Middle Ground and Background
Depth is key to avoid shooting an image which is flat. Establish the foreground, the middle ground and the background.
The temptation can be to just look at a scene and not consider whether there are any distracting elements in a scene.
Also, by having a point of interest in the foreground you are giving the viewer a way into the scene, helping create perspective.
Use a Wide Angle Lens
Using a wide angle lens gives you a much broader field of view, enhancing the feeling of space. They generally also allow you to obtain a greater depth of field.
Choose Your Aperture Wisely
Use a narrow aperture (between f16 and f22 ideally) so that you have greater depth of field; this is to ensure that all areas in your landscape photo are in focus. A greater depth of field will allow you to appreciate all aspects of a scene, rather than limiting you to only one small sharp section of it. Narrowing the aperture will let in far less light, however, which is why the next point is super important…
Use a Tripod
By having a narrow aperture your exposure time (assuming you are using the same ISO) will necessitate a greatly reduced shutter speed, and so it is important to mount your camera on a sturdy tripod. This will prevent camera shake and blurry images. Shooting handheld is simply not an option if you want to capture a decent landscape shot. Sturdy/heavy tripods work best as light ones can be shaken by even a light wind.
Pushing the shutter button can cause a little bit of camera shake, so a good idea is to set the shutter to a 2 second delay, which gives the camera time to stop shaking even slightly before the shutter is released.
Try a Polarising Filter
A polarising filter enriches the colours in your landscape photograph. Using a filter also increases the exposure time however, another reason why it is very important to use a tripod.
Cut Out the Sky
If the sky has a dull colour to it, or adds no value to the shot, cutting it out entirely can make for a more interesting shot.
The shot below of a buffalo herd in the Sand River is a bit of a cheat as it was taken from a helicopter (and handheld) but one can see how a different perspective while still shooting wide can create a very interesting photograph.
Taking these tips, I hope that you can also say to others, “Look where I have been and look what the beauty of Nature has to offer…”.