Landscape Photography: Optimal Camera Settings

There’s a lot of confusion among beginner photographers regarding the best camera settings for a certain type of scene. I’m sure we’ve all been through that phase. But only as we progress through our photography journey do we realize there’s no such thing as “the best settings”. Settings depend on a lot of variables. But, with a proper understanding, we can choose the camera settings that best suit the scene that’s in our frame. In today’s video we have landscape photographer Mads Peter Iversen sharing his approach and philosophy to getting the best camera settings:

Understanding the exposure triangle is key in determining the settings for your images. Spend some time studying how the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO affect your image. This will come in handy for all the photographs that you’ll take throughout your life.

“The point is to find the optimal balance between the shutter speed, the aperture, and the ISO in relation to the scene.”

Iversen’s idea is to start with the base ISO setting as a lower ISO produces cleaner images. This is important if you plan to have a full-blown print of your images. Aperture controls how much of the scene is in focus and determines sharpness. Lenses usually perform best in between f/8-f/11. But depending on how much depth of field you require, you may even need the aperture to be around f/16. And as for shutter, you have the liberty to adjust it based on ISO and aperture. But, in cases where you want to use slower shutter speed to capture a more blurred motion, you’ll need to adjust the ISO and aperture accordingly.

Besides these settings, check your camera and see that it’s set to capture in raw format. Raw images capture an immense amount of data and give you greater flexibility in post. You can easily get rid of some noise and adjust the exposure in images shot in raw. But what you can’t adjust is depth of field and focus. So, ensure that you nail your focus, and set an appropriate aperture. Otherwise, you won’t be able to rescue your images.

At the end of the day, it’s all about getting good looking images. Settings hardly matter. What matters most is how your images come out, what story they tell, and if they inspire anyone. All of this can be ensured by paying greater attention to your composition and having a better presence of mind. So don’t worry if you get your settings wrong. There are more important things that you need to learn.

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