Greetings, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is episode 257. In today’s episode I wanted to talk about the various types of landscape photography.
First of all landscape photography is a great genre to start with as it allows you to hone your skills without working with other people such as models or portrait clients. Most photographers are familiar with landscape photography, which is capturing beautiful or interesting images of natural landscapes, but they don’t realize that there are sub categories of landscape photography. Today I will be talking about these various subsets of landscape photography in a bit more detail.
When you are out in the world we have all lived the experience of wanting to stop and capture everything in an outdoor scene and many photographers will stop and snap individual shots that are pieces of the overall scene. But, it would be better to capture the entire scene in a single shot. Panorama photography allows us to do this by taking a shot and then panning the camera a bit and then snapping the next shot. The shots must overlap at least a little so that you can stitch them together later in post processing. I recommend using a tripod or a natural stabilizer such as a fence post if one is handy. The reason for this is you don’t want any movement of the camera up and down, only from left to right as you pan to the next subsection of the overall scene. Often times it is so much better to tell the story of the entire scene in a single, large panorama image than to break it up into single images. If you are using a really wide angle lens such as a 12mm you can really take in everything in each shot better than with say a 35mm lens and if you are doing a capture with something interesting in the foreground, you can position much closer to that object whether it’s a log on the ground or a large boulder to make for a more interesting capture. Many photography editing programs such as Lightroom or Capture One have a Panorama stitching functions built right into them where the software will look at all the images see the slight overlap and stitch them together quite perfectly and the most you might have to do is crop the top and bottom.
Long Exposure Photography
Many photographers, myself included love to shoot long exposure daytime photos and you can make rough water look smooth as glass and the clouds look really beautiful as well. Long Exposure Photography requires more patience as it is much slower, with your exposures being many seconds or even a couple of minutes long. You will need a tripod, and some Neutral Density filters as well as you have to cut down the light as much as possible since you will be using very long shutter speeds. If you decide to do night time Long Exposures then you can get great light trails or if shooting along or overlooking a busy road the cars will end up looking like laser beams along the road instead of vehicles. If you post during the daytime at a local park with walking trails you can even capture people and in the final exposure they will be streaked like the Flash from DC Comics and look like they are moving at super speed.
You set up your camera and tripod and then set your time value for the shutter, generally using BULB mode and decide on your exposure time, or just experiment with various exposure times. Maybe start at 10 seconds, then try 20 then 30 or maybe even start at 1 minute. Make sure you are using a powerful ND filter such as a 10 stop one, which is what I prefer for doing this kind of daytime landscape photography.
Another type of really cool day or night time landscape photography you can do is Time-Lapse. This type of photography is more challenging than others, but it can also be a lot of fun as well. For this type of photography you need a camera with a built in Intervalometer or you will need an external trigger device that can count the amount of time and then fire your camera for you such as the fantastic Pluto Triggers that I have. You want to post your camera within an awesome scene whether you are doing daytime or night time is entirely up to you. You can shoot the moon rise in the sky and and follow it as it rises and then falls below the horizon the next morning and the same with the sun. You position your camera and tripod where you feel you have an interesting scene, whether it’s your local city such as Atlanta or out in the deserts of Arizona. You get your timing set up either in camera or with an external trigger and just leave it for hours to shoot every say 1 minute or 10 minutes, it just depends on how many exposures you want in the end. Keep in mind that you will either need a lot of batteries, a battery grip or a way to power the camera with say your vehicle or a very long life Power Bank. If you are shooting Fujifilm like myself or Sony this is fairly easy as their cameras allow charging via USB-C for I believe all models. If you are shooting Nikon or Canon only some of their newer mirrorless cameras allow USB-C charging and for Canon at least you have to buy a fairly expensive proprietary charger to do this that costs around $200. Once you have your Time-Lapse capture done then you can use software to combine them into a mini high-speed movie. You can use Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple’s Final Cut Pro X software and there are also some free options out there, just do a web search for “Free Time-Lapse” software.
Astrophotography is another type of landscape photography that will tax your patience but can yield some amazing results! For this type of photography you really need to be somewhere that you won’t run into light pollution from a city or large town. You want as much darkness around you as possible so you can focus on the lights in the sky. The desert is a great place to do Astrophotography or out in the country like where Tina and I live now in Northern North Carolina. I would also recommend you use a tripod, a great one for this style of photography is the PlatyPod low profile tripod, which allows your camera to sit right on the ground and capture. Just mount your camera on the tripod with a very wide angle lens such as a 12mm or even a 10mm if you can find one that isn’t a Fisheye, set your camera settings for an Aperture of say F/8 or F/16, point it at the sky and shoot away. This type of photography can also be a big drain on your batteries so again take several, use a battery grip or external power.
I would also recommend using a light that has say a red lens so you don’t blow your night vision. If you have the money to spend you could even use night vision goggles to better see. If you are in the desert or wilderness to do this style of photography I would also recommend keeping a eye on your surroundings as there maybe night time predators around that you don’t want catching you by surprise. Once you have your camera set up, then focus on a very distant object in the night sky and start capturing, when all is said and done and you are back home editing these images, you will likely have some breathtaking captures!
The last type of landscape photography I wanted to talk abut today is Forest Photography. Doing this type of landscape photography can be one of the most challenging as you have to find something interesting to capture. If you are lucky enough to live in a place like the Pacific Northwest or Alaska or the Northeast part of PA, where I am originally from you can find some incredibly beautiful forests to shoot but you need something more to make your images “pop’ such as a deer drinking on the shore of a lake or pond, or maybe a bear in a river fishing for his or her next meal.
The autumn leaves in the fall can make for some truly amazing images with all the bright colors both on the trees and the ground as the leaves fall off and blanket the area where you are shooting. Even winter Forest Landscapes can be really wonderful when the area is blanketed in pure white snow but that will throw some new challenges at you as you will need to balance your exposure for the bright white of the snow versus the darker colors or the trees whether they are pines with green still on them or naked trees that are nothing but brown. Reflective water can be another great element to have in your Forest Landscapes as it will add a mirror like quality to the image and if you are at the right position and point of view you can have a forest in both the top and bottom half of your image, if there is then that deer drinking at the shore that will be reflected as well and make for a really interesting composition.
These are just a few of the amazing sub-categories of landscape photography that you may not have thought of already. All of them are genres I have personally tried except for Astrophotography, which I may play around with later this year. Go out there and give one or all of them a try as a way to build your photography skills and to come up with something you haven’t shot before. I am including examples of each style in the show notes to give you some inspiration.
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