10 Tips for Brilliant Landscapes

(© Ian Plant) I've got an article in the May issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine called 10 Tips for Brilliant Landscapes. In the article, I give—you guessed it—ten tips for chasing the light to get great landscape photos. Enjoy!

10 Tips for Brilliant Landscapes


    I am traveling through South America and am really looking forward to the gorgeous and unique landscapes in this part of the world. Hopefully with these tips, I’ll be able to capture some truly moving images. Thanks!

    In every issue of Outdoor Photographer ( and also in the article above ) , I am surprised that the landscape photographers /columnists advise use small apertures like f16 or f22 for depth of field . Considering most readers are using APS-C size sensor DSLRs which become diffraction sensitive at any aperture over f8 , I don’t believe it is appropiate to suggest apertures like f16 & f22 without mentioning the effects of diffraction ( or at least indicating that the advice is for full frame sensors ).

    The quality of an image taken at f22 on an APS-C size sensor is equivelant to 2 Megapixels according to diffraction tables . Let’s not forget that apertures like f16 & f22 are needless for producing depth of field in wide angle landscape shots ( anything over 1 meter to infinity is sharp at 18mm & f11 – APS-C size sensor )

    I was very disappointed to see “Desert Window, Arches National Park, Utah” in this article. I have been there and I know that the only way one can take this shot is by climbing up the slope past the sign at its base that says very clearly not to do so. I would love to have gotten this shot too when I was there but I respected the instructions from the national park. To do otherwise is to invite continuing destruction of the slope over time. I am upset when photographers decide that rules and instructions designed to protect the natural beauty that attracts us so are not meant for them. We can and we must do better for the enjoyment of all.

    My husband and I were in Arches a few years ago. At that time there was no sign that said you could not walk through the Arch to get this shot. I thought the name of this formation was North Window not Desert Window.

    Regarding Ugur’s comments about small apertures and diffraction, you have two choice:
    1) Use a larger aperture and be 100% sure that the foreground/background (or both) will be soft making the shot unusable.
    2) Use a small aperture and ensure that everything will be acceptably sharp, though not perfect.

    Unfotunately, nobody makes a super-wide (e.g., 12mm) tilt/shift lens for APS sensor. If you go to 35mm, Canon offers a 17mm TS, but Nikon’s still stuck at 24mm.

    So, just you do the best that you can and when it’s all said and done (after doing some contrast enhancement and final sharpening in Photoshop), landscapes at very small apertures will look great.

    See continuation of this comment…

    Getting people worked up about diffraction would not be responsible and would be essentially telling them to not even bother shooting. All I know is that, as a professional landscape photographer, I shoot at very small apertures all the time and the shots look wonderfully sharp (on both medium format film and APS-C sensors). Possibly, we landscape photographers actually know something that most people don’t because we’re pros and that’s what we do every day. Theorizing and pixel peeping is not always the best way to judge a picture.

    I have yet to see an image that has been ruined by diffraction. The only people who need to worry about it are lens manufactures.

    The idea that shooting at f/22 will make your images equal quality to 2 Megapixels is absurd

    The basics of composition and a compelling subject are far more important than making sure that the image is as technically perfect as scientifically possible.

    I read your 10 Tips article and from there found your OP blog. You generously share many great thoughts and tips, thank you. I shoot on the Dlemarva Peninsula where location is great but moment is the key. Your passion for photography is clear, and the skill with which you present your passion is superb. Keep up your great work and thank you again for sharing your thoughts on your blog.

Leave a Reply

Main Menu