The Three Biggest Mistakes New Landscape Photographers Make
“Oh what inspiration! With my brand new camera and I can take pictures like these!” you think to yourself as you browse through the magazine of prize-winning landscape photographers and their images. I live close to the Grand Teton mountains and they are the perfect subject for my new career! You plunged into the project with great enthusiasm and had a wild day running from place to place shooting to your heart’s content. The sun and the clouds put on a special show of beauty and awe that day just for you.
Meanwhile, you can’t contain your excitement as the images load into your computer! “These are going to blow everyone away! I will make a living selling these on Fickle!” The thumbnails pop into view, one by one.. “Oh, that one is too bright!.. and that one…hey what happened to those beautiful clouds?” and as you peruse your treasure you realize that the camera has betrayed you. Your inspiration is deflated and you just don’t know what to do. So you grab a cupcake.
This scene happens all too often as people realize their skills are not yet up to par. The feeling of overwhelm and not knowing where to turn to begin to fix the problems. What really went wrong?
Dynamic range is a subject that not many people have knowledge of. It is the range of detail that is recorded either by the eye or by the camera. The camera records dynamic range at a much narrower spectrum than the eye. So what you see with your eyes is not what you are going to get with the camera. In your images, your shadow areas will be just dark or black and your lighted areas will be blown out white with no details.
Mistake #1 is trying to capture full details in a scene with way more contrast than the camera can handle. The simple handle for this is to compose your photo with either a predominance of the darker areas in the viewfinder or a predominance of the lighter areas in the view finder. The camera will compensate nicely when the dynamic range of the scene is within its spectrum.
Mistake #2 is not being aware of or controlling your camera settings, especially when it comes to shutter speed. Blurry images come from camera shake facilitated by hand held cameras. No one can hold a camera perfectly still at slower shutter speeds, so either set the shutter speed to at least 1/60th of a second or get a tripod. Once you have set your shutter speed, then you can adjust your f-stop to get a perfectly sharp and correct exposure.
Mistake #3 has to do with image composition. Composition can be so bad as to leave out important elements of a photo, to leaving in objectionable elements such as telephone poles and wires or cars. It is best to compose so your photo leads the observers eye to the main subject.
You can make it as a landscape photographer! Just study your basics and do lots and lots of practice until you have your skills down to a science. You COULD be featured as the next great landscape photographer in the Outdoor Photographer magazine! Just go for it!