I find it quite amazing how well you can get that perfect photo of the snowy landscape with your digital camera. Being in the outskirts of Buffalo definitely gave me plenty of opportunity for the shot that just makes others go “Wow, what an amazing shot!” As much as I would love to take the credit, I do understand that my digital camera is what makes the picture look that wonderful. Both of the attached photos were taken out of a moving vehicle’s back window.
If you have a landscape mode on your camera, trust it. Most of the time it will get that perfect shot without much effort or changing of settings.
These photos were taken on an overcast day with no snow falling. They almost look like they are in black and white. The best winter landscapes you can get are usually found with a spec of color somewhere. A red robin in a tree, a nice dilapidated but colored tractor would have made the top picture perfect.
Although I know this sound like an oxymoron, but if with the sun had been shining, the second photo really would have the “it” factor of being a professional photo. With the sun glinting off the trees, the lighting would have amazing to have the contract needed to make the picture “pop” off the page for you.
I suggest you go for a Sunday drive and take as making photos as your memory card will allow and I’m sure you will see something that will take your photographs to the next step.
Shooting That Perfect Landscape
Landscape photography is one of the hardest photographic disciplines to get right. As far as the technicalities of camera settings are concerned, though, there isn’t too much to the basic technique. To be sure of getting a sharp shot with the whole scene focus, (see the photo to the right) you can drop the camera into aperture priority mode and select a small aperture.
Remember that a small aperture means a large F-Number. In a digital compact, the max available will be something around the following; f5/6; in a digital SLR f/11 or f/16 are good bets. The added benefit of a small aperture is that most lenses will produce sharper results with less distortion at smaller aperture. Remember that small aperture often means a slow shutter speed, so the primary weapon in most landscape photographer’s armory is a tripod.
The second aspect to remember is that you want to get as much crisp detail as possible, so make sure your camera is set to its lowest ISO setting. Again, this will tend to mean slow shutter speeds, but low ISO will produce less noise in your photo and maximum detail. In fact landscape shots are one of the areas where it’s a real help to have a DSLR and a decent lens, this is because DSLR’s capture detail better.
You’ll find one of the luxuries of photographing a landscape is that you don’t need to hurry. So you’ll have plenty of time to find that perfect result.
You must also consider that the timing of the day has to be right. The conventional wisdom in landscape photography is that you should suffer for your art: They say the few minutes before dawn and after dawn are the most flattering. This is because the light is at its softest. You’ll also find that if the sky is brilliantly sunny and clear you can get a style of photo which is called “Super Vibrant” this is best in the middle of the afternoon.
You’ll notice that if you shoot in the middle of the day you can enhance the vibrancy of a clear sunny sky by using a polarise filter. Polarised filters give you that effect of deepening your colours and also giving you a more vibrant photo. After great time of the day to shot landscape is when the sun is getting lower, this will give you the effect of dramatic skies and also you’ll get mist into the equation, all this helps for your perfect landscape photo.