Digital Photography Tips For Landscape & Wildlife Photos
Mastered the art of the wide angle yet? Know how to add a spicy kick to those action shots? Browse articles filled with expert digital photography tips. These landscape and wildlife photo techniques will improve your photography in no time.
Become a student of light and you become a better photographer
In my last column, I outlined what I consider to be the essential ingredients for a high-quality landscape photograph (OP, April 2007). I mentioned that the quality of light was one of those major ingredients. Certainly, this is an obvious part of good photography, but it merits further discussion. It’s one thing to photograph and hope for the best, even if you go out at the generally optimal times. It's another thing to be a disciple of light, a lifelong student of the nuances of light on the landscape. If you take time to study the lighting conditions that occur at your favorite locations over a long period of time, you’ll be doing what most landscape masters have done: become an expert on those locations.
Getting the exposure right is at least as important when shooting digital as when shooting film
In order to have a proper exposure, how much light needs to hit the image sensor of your camera when you press the shutter release? This is the basic question of exposure, and two factors determine the answer: ƒ-stop and shutter speed. You can let the camera choose these for you or choose them yourself in one of your camera’s manual modes. Either way, the amount of natural light at your location must first be measured—and measured accurately.
You can successfully photograph in wet conditions with digital gear
The rain forests of Central America beckon to photographers in so many ways. Popular books, such as Rainforest by Thomas Marent, show off the amazing colors, the unusual forms and shapes, and the exotic attraction of the area. For a very long time, I really wanted to visit a rain forest and photograph there.
Choose and use filters to improve and enhance your landscape photographs
Filters are a big part of landscape photography, and every photographer needs a few. Though you’ll hear some shooters talk about all the possibilities available through the digital darkroom, achieving an effect in-camera is often easier and simplifies your Photoshop workflow. Some effects, such as the polarizer’s reduction of glare on water, aren’t even possible in a computer.
Discover the monochrome world using your digital camera
At one time, if you were interested in black-and-white photography, you had to have access to a wet darkroom. Yes, your local photo lab could provide black-and-white prints, but they were flat and unimpressive compared to what you could achieve on your own under the glow of the red safe light. Now you can produce black-and-white images from your digital files and, most importantly, produce stunning monochrome prints that are as good as anything created on silver-based papers.
There are two basic ways to handle a moving subject photographically: freeze it with a fast shutter speed or blur it with a long exposure. But there’s a little more to successful action photography than that.
Exploring with the wide end of the focal spectrum opens up a world of creative compositional possibilities
My high-school chemistry teacher’s favorite phrase was "Everything is relative" and so it is with wide-angle lenses. A lens of a given focal length can be wide-angle, normal or even telephoto. It depends on the format of the camera on which you’re using it. The larger the film frame (or image sensor), the wider a given focal length’s angle of view.
Several years ago, I got stuck. Though I had been shooting for more than 20 years, I found that a day’s worth of shooting was delivering only lackluster results. The images were sharp, the compositions tight, the exposures dead-on, but as I contemplated my images, I recognized that I was repeating myself. I was creating the same shots week after week, month after month. The photographs were technically good, but they left me uninspired.
Use a spot meter to achieve the best exposure possible
Although you may hear the phrase "I’ll fix it in Photoshop" come from the lips of a digital photographer, correcting mistakes is more time-consuming than getting it right in-camera. This is no truer when it comes to exposure, where poor metering results in the loss of crucial detail in shadows and highlights.
Use these tips to get immediate results for better, more interesting landscape, close-up and wildlife photographs
If you mount your camera on a tripod and focus carefully, you’ll get sharper landscape photos—guaranteed. Why? Because a good tripod holds a camera steadier than a person can. And tripods aren’t just for large-format and super-telephoto shooters: Even if you shoot with a "little" 35mm or digital SLR and never use a long lens, you’ll still get sharper photos if you mount your camera on a sturdy tripod.
It's easy to put this versatile creative control to work for you
Here’s a handy creative control that takes up no space in your gadget bag (and costs nothing!): depth of field, the zone of apparent sharpness in a photo in front of and beyond the focused subject. With great depth of field, everything from nearby objects to a distant background will appear sharp in a photo; with limited depth of field, only the focused subject—or a portion of it if depth of field is really limited—will appear sharp.
Where is landscape photography going today? How might we as photographers find new inspiration and approaches to this classic subject?
When it comes to tradition, landscape photography ranks up there with mom and apple pie. Photography got its start with landscapes as subjects since they remained motionless during the long exposures needed. As exploration of places like the American West began, landscape photography showed the world what these regions looked like. It was landscape photography that helped stimulate the formation of our national park system. Talk about traditional values!
Art Wolfe shares his insights for the creative use of motion
Sharpness is important to Art Wolfe, so much so that he shoots virtually all of his images using a tripod. You might even find him navigating through the crowds of a bazaar, carefully examining the scene, working on visualizing the next shot with his camera firmly mounted on a ballhead.
A Deeper Understanding Of Sharpness Can Help Better Control It
Sharpness is a critical issue for photographers. While we sometimes experiment with blurs, we mostly want our subjects to be as sharp as possible. The standard, reliable approach is to use a good lens and tripod.