Want to know the secrets to taking your best photos ever, right outside your own doorstep? Get nine pro tips for shooting amazing intimate landscapes. Plus, see here for your chance to take professional photographer Rob Sheppard’s online Craftsy class, Shooting Intimate Landscapes, and learn how to use composition and lighting to take your photo from ordinary to extraordinary.
1. Arrive early and stay late
The best and most interesting light is typically happening about an hour on either side of sunrise and sunset. When most people would rather be sleeping in or enjoying an evening cocktail is when you should be setting up for your shot. Fortunately, this is also the time that the great outdoors are least populated with humans. Use this time to shoot your intimate landscapes.
2. Don’t be afraid to get into nature
The best shots are rarely taken from the visitor’s center at any park. Get out and hike in, discovering new spots along the way, and find the untouched pristine parts. Sometimes the most amazing intimate photos are the ones that no one has ever seen before.
3. Slow it down
It’s OK to use slow shutter speeds with landscapes. Typically, there isn’t very much moving, and if it is, it can look really cool slowed down. For example, running water looks great at a slow shutter speed. The look of a river landscape is much more intimate when the water looks like a bubbling brook (at slow speeds) rather than a raging river (at fast speeds).
4. Look for patterns
There are patterns all over nature: lines of trees, veins in leaves, striations on rock formations or air-flow patterns in the clouds. Patterns provide visual interest to the viewer. If you can find something that breaks the pattern, that’s even better for visual interest, for example one tree that is taller than the rest or a red leaf among a thicket of green.
5. Keep an eye out for interesting shapes, textures and lines
Shapes, textures and lines will provide more visual interest for your photographs. Stay in the moment and see what most catches your eye in any given space, for example there may be a pop of color or an object that you don’t see every day. Amplify the visibility of the unique textures by testing out different angles for taking your photo, paying particular attention to where the sun is.
6. Find a way to show scale
Part of what makes landscapes (and the natural world in general) is scale. Some things are very small and some things are very large. Being able to show the scale helps the viewer of the photograph to understand what is going on and to appreciate the size. Including objects that are common in your frame will help with this. Everyone knows about how big a horse is; if you have one in your photo the viewer can gauge the size of the rest of the scene relative to the horse.
7. Try a new lens
When taking landscapes, it is tempting to only take a wide angle lens or to shoot as wide as you can, all the time. Consider taking a longer lens, one that gives you a smaller and more intimate slice of the scene. Try leaving your wide lens at home to force you into thinking more creatively about how to capture the most important parts of the landscape.
8. Use smaller apertures when possible
Smaller apertures will give you more depth of field, which means that more of your scene is in focus. This is generally desirable in landscape photography. In addition to the larger DOF, you will also avoid some vignetting that tends to happen at wider apertures, where the corners of your image appear darker than the rest of the frame.
9. Use a tripod
A tripod is essential if you are using slow shutter speeds. But it is also helpful for getting you to slow down and thoughtfully compose your frame. When you slow down and have a locked down camera, you can make sure that your horizon line is horizontal and the perspective is exactly how you want it.
Now that you’ve discovered a few tricks for seeing beauty on a small scale, take your photos up a notch with more expert strategies for capturing stunning intimate landscapes no matter where you are. See here for a chance to take the online Craftsy class Shooting Intimate Landscapes, and find out how to use pattern, texture, color and contrast to capture stunning photos that showcase nature’s striking beauty. Enjoy lifetime access to guidance from professional photographer Rob Sheppard in the comfort of your home, and ask Rob questions anytime for all the answers you need.
What are some of your favorite tips for taking inspiring outdoor photos?
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