July Theme Challenge – “Landscapes”

Now that the Covid-19 restrictions are relaxing, we can now get outside with our cameras to enjoy visiting our favorite spots and create new images. Photographing the Landscape or Seascape is one of the most popular genres and we can understand why as we get out and witness nature showing off it’s grand scenery while we experience the smell of the ocean and see the lush green color of the vegetation now that the tree buds have turned into leaves.

Capturing in a single image what you see in front of you is the challenge which takes a bit of knowledge, practice and creativity to accomplish. The most important things to know to create a successful image are; know your camera, how to achieve a good exposure with proper focus, creative composition, a subject or purpose, a special moment, good light, and finally post processing skills to bring out the best in your final image.

The technical aspects of capturing an image requires; knowing how to set your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, which lens to use, and using a tripod to help achieve a sharp well exposed, properly focused image with an appropriate depth of field. For example, when shooting a landscape image, you would like all of the image to be sharp throughout, and be able to see detail in the highlights as well as the shadows while still having appealing contrast. For general landscape and seascape images, start with selecting a wide angle lens around 24mm, setting your ISO to 100 with the aperture set between f/8 to f/11 depending on your depth of field requirements. Then adjust your shutter speed to expose for the highlights, to obtain as much digital information in the captured image as possible. When you take a test shot check there are no highlight alerts and the histogram to make sure it is pushed to the right with information in the shadows. Remember the mood of the image will be restored during final post processing, in other words you capture the image to be as bright as possible with no highlight clipping.

However, if you are shooting Jpeg and do not post process your images set your exposure to match the mood you want to achieve. In extreme cases such as sunrises and sunsets you may require the use of in camera HDR (not available on all cameras) or the use of a graduated neutral density filter (usually 2 or 3 stops) to help compress the dynamic range to be able to see detail in the shadows instead of a final silhouette image.

The purpose or subject of the image is your inspiration to capture the image and by spending time choosing the composition to eliminate distracting elements as well as having your subject or purpose positioned in the frame that allows the viewer to easily identify the subject or story provides more impact. Then it’s a matter of waiting for the right moment and light to capture your final image.

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The inspiration for the above image is of the iconic Nova Scotia Peggy’s Point Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. As it sits on the rugged granite rocks waiting for its light to be seen when the light changes from day to night.

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I waited for “blue hour” to capture this image using a slower shutter speed to create a calming mood as the water swirled around the rocks by New Harbour Road, Blandford, and to capture the light from East Ironbound Island Lighthouse seen in the distance which marks the entrance to Mahone Bay.

Remember to check the result on the camera display by zooming in and around the image as well as reviewing the histogram to make sure everything is just right before you pack up and head home to do the final post processing.

It is also important to enjoy your experience, so show up early and take time to soak in what you see and feel to help create a better composition, your image will mean so much more to you. Finally, have fun, which is really the most important thing.

Students are encouraged to develop their ability to tell a story or invoke an emotion, as well as how to plan and troubleshoot while creating their images. As such it’s important to not only create the image but to also include a “title”, and write a short paragraph about; how they came up with the idea, any interesting back ground that compelled them to make the image, and describe any techniques on how they overcame any obstacles.

As always with our monthly theme challenges we try to seek out an instructional resource, below are some YouTube video links to help with some important tips, hints and ideas.
Landscape Photography instructional aid:
Mastering Exposure – A Landscape Photography Tutorial: by Nigel Danson (14min 59sec)
Mastering Focus – A Landscape Photography Tutorial: by Nigel Danson (18min 5sec)
4 Camera settings that Every photographer Must understand: by Nigel Danson (20min 29sec)
7 Simple Photo Composition Tips to Improve Your Photography: by Nigel Danson (19min 33sec)
White Balance in Landscape Photography Lightroom Tutorial: by Nigel Danson (20min 45sec)
How to Create and Edit Better landscape Photos Lightroom Tutorial: by Nigel Danson (26min 12sec)

An important part of improving your photography is practice, which is one aspect of the monthly theme challenge, in addition you have an opportunity to learn about different genres, techniques and tips.

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