I don’t normally post any kind of tutorials here they are normally posted on my Digital Photography site but I’ve been asked a couple of times how I approach some of my location/landscape shoots so thought Id add a short post here.
Photographing serious images of landscapes is not always the easiest of subjects to capture unless you do a little bit of pre planning.
That’s not to say I don’t sometimes just stumble across a well lit scene or just head out and explore an area without any planning because sometimes I do.However most of what I shoot is often planned and I have done some scouting before shooting.
Weather can be unpredictable especially in the U.K where it changes very quickly and of course we can’t be prepared for that !
Planning can be key especially if you have a specific location and lighting in mind.
I’ll often research the area via good old Google and Google Earth to get ideas of the locations terrain and possible shooting angles.
I’ll also phone local tourist offices who can often be invaluable in recommending good vantage points or even specific times of the year they believe are best to visit although they are rarely photographers themselves and their idea for a chocolate box image/vantage point will rarely be yours !
Looking at books or local postcards can also help show the more popular spots and this can be a good starting point BUT I’ll always search out a new angle where I can and try to make the image my own.
If you are out scouting locations consider using a compass or better still a smartphone app like Focalware.
I use Focalware on my iPhone and it tells you the sun/moon angle during various times of the year which can be extremely handy especially in hilly areas where parts of your scene could fall into shade.
Another way to find out what time the sun rises and sets is a site like Time & Date and of course check the weather forecast while you are online too !
Even after viewing forecasts the weather can be unpredictable so be prepared to have to wait around for the light so perhaps pack a good book or a laptop to entertain yourself maybe use the time and logon to partycasino.com you might even get lucky and win enough for that new carbon fibre manfrotto you are saving for ! A flask and a snack are other items I never leave home without especially when I’m out shooting at dawn.
Stay close to your chosen viewpoint and be prepared (especially if the wind is up and clouds are moving quickly) to grab the unexpected change in the light.
Early morning and dusk can also mean unexpected wildlife too so again be prepared for a few grab shots.
Landscape photography is not the hardest subject technically to capture but sometimes does take a bit of planning to get the best images that the location has to offer.
Be patient and be willing to cut your losses and return another time (if that’s possible) if the light or weather is too poor for the image you want.