An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

Tips on Landscape Photography


Color saturation is the most important consideration. Most digital cameras have a setting for this called Landscape. In the old days when film reigned, Fuji Velvia color slide film was rated as about the best for landscape photographs. The Velvia slide film had better color and resolution then color negative film. Digital camera sensors can mimic Fuji Velvia color with the Landscape setting by making the reds brighter, and the greens greener.

Use a tripod whenever possible! There can be a big difference in the sharpness of your photograph if you use a tripod. Also, the trees don’t move around too much so you can take your time. Wide angle lenses are usually used. They can keep more of the foreground in focus (some debate this but it still looks like it is in focus!) and also get in more of the scenery.

While taking photographs of stars make sure your shutter exposure is less then 30 seconds. After 30 seconds you will get “star trails” from the rotation of the earth and the stars won’t show up as distinct points of light. Wide angle lenses with f/2.8 or wider have an advantage with nighttime photography, and with auroras by allowing more light in that 30 seconds. Try and ignore your exposure meter with longer exposures because of Reciprocity. Proper nighttime exposures take experience and good judgment.

Large format cameras, old fashioned cameras with large bellows and huge 5x7 and 8x10 inch negatives, are still used in landscape photography. Why are these old fashioned large format cameras still used? Because they take sharper photographs! The negative size is 5x7 inch or 8x10 inch which results in a 100-200 mega pixel equivalent!

You can get near the same result as a large format camera with your digital SLR. Set up your camera on a tripod with an 85-200mm lens. Then take several panoramic photographs of the area, overlapping each by 20-40% on each side. Remember to set your exposure, ISO speed, and auto white balance on manual so the camera doesn’t adjust the settings between shots. Otherwise you will have a problem getting the pictures to match later. You will likely also need 4-5 rows of photographs across and maybe 2-3 rows of photographs from top to bottom. Then merge the panoramic photographs in Photoshop. This results in a sharp detailed landscape photograph with very high resolution. The size of your image file will be much larger and it will likely require the services of a special photo reproduction business to print it.