Digital Photography Taking Landscape Pictures

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Digital Photography Taking Landscape Pictures

Some of the most breathtaking pictures are that of scenery, or landscapes. Little can surpass nature's beauty. Taking landscape pictures requires, of course, a landscape or scenic setting.

A distinction should be made here between landscape photos, and "landscape mode". Landscape mode provides a narrow image that captures a larger swath of scenery than a single frame. Some lenses provide a wider frame by using a low focal point (wide angle, or fish eye lenses); while some digital cameras or digital editing software can "stitch" separate images together to make a wide scenery image.

In taking pictures of landscapes, a sharp focus is essential, as well as a large depth of field so everything in the scene is crisp and clear.

Focusing on a distant scenery is easier than it sounds. In all probability, it is at or beyond the maximum focus of your lens. Therefore switching to manual focus and spinning the focus ring to "infinity" will provide the sharpest focus without any auto focus motor whirring and vibration and related focusing errors.

To obtain a deeper depth of field, the smallest aperture exposure setting (highest f-stop number) should be used. This will limit the light falling on the DSLR CCD sensor, and allows for slower shutter speed, which will let the image form with greater clarity on the CCD photo sensor. This means every object in the image, trees, leaves, walls, etc, are all in perfect focus and at the highest clarity.

Framing the image should also be given consideration. Since there is often a lot of objects within the scene being photographed, using the "thirds rule" to line up interesting elements will draw attention to them, while retaining the beauty of the overall image.

When looking through the viewfinder, draw mental lines across the image, breaking the image into "thirds" (three parts) both vertically and horizontally. Place interesting or obvious elements along a third-line (if straight) or at the junction of a vertical and horizontal third-line. The more image elements that maybe you can align on or along thirds, the better the final landscape photo will be.

When the sky or a body of water is part of the scene, a polarizer filter can be used to eliminate diffusion and reflection of excess light. Polarizer filters also add a full f-stop or more (since some light is lost passing through the filter) which also allows for slower image frame capture, while yielding "sky-blue" skies and "water-blue" waters.

A tripod is almost always a requirement in landscape photography, since any vibration or hand shake will result in a blurry image which would be useless. Resting against a wall or structure may help, or a monopod (one legged tripod) may be used.

Setting proper exposure settings can be tricky, and while it comes easily with practice and experience, don't be afraid to experiment with different settings and take multiple shots. Using spot metering against different elements or lighting in the scene can also be experimented with. Later, review the settings from the best shots, and you will learn from the experience.

The lowest ISO setting, or film speed, that is native to the DSLR camera should be used. Note that some digital SLR cameras have "emulation" modes that provide a lower ISO number, but it does this through software manipulation and the image will end up with weird colors or lost detail. Generally, ISO 200 is perfect for scenery pictures.

Natural lighting, is of course, essential. Given the distances, a flash is useless. Dawn or dusk provides the best colors that nature can light up a scene with, don't be afraid to wake up early or stay on the shooting site late to capture these jaw dropping hues.

Night scenes can be tricky, since the only illumination is from unnatural light sources (street lights, lamps). Longer exposures to capture images will result in less clarity and some blurring (wind shaking branches, moving vehicles), although some interesting effects can be obtained. For example, photographing a winding road along a hillside, passing cars will mark a lighted streak while the scenery will be static in the image.

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