Landscape Photography - A Professional's Process
Landscape photography is one of the top things people print with Pixelpaint.
Some of the most stunning ones we get are shot by professional photographer, Adrian Hodge. So we thought it would be interesting to get an insight into his landscape photography process.
In this article, you'll learn how to plan, execute and process amazing landscape photography like a pro.
Plan: What's needed?
When planning a shot you need to think about the time of day and the direction any natural light will be coming from, mostly from the sun.
Do you want to be shooting into the sun or away from it, how will the sunlight look at different times of the day?
You may also be interested in shooting the stars in the night sky (astrophotography) and need to know where the moon and Milky Way will be Ideally, you’ll want to drive at least 30 minutes out of any major city to get away from the light pollution to get to see the dark sky in all it’s glory.
One invaluable tool I use to plan my photos is a mobile phone App called Photopills.
Photopills allows you to plan where the sun, moon or even the Milky Way will be at any time and in any location.
They even have augmented reality to have a virtual look around to see where these things will be. At $15 it’s a small price to pay for something jam packed with features. I use it every day!
Obviously if you’re shooting outside you’ll become interested in the weather, you start noticing cloud pattern and the different types of clouds, and you’ll start learning which clouds look the best at sunrise & sunset.
The day has come, the weather is perfect and you’re heading out to do some landscape photography, hopefully you set your alarm properly if you needed to get up in the middle of the night or early before sunrise.
Make sure your camera’s batteries are all charged up, the last thing you need is a flat battery when the light is just right.
Make sure you’re going to be warm enough, you can always take layers off when the sun comes up
A tripod is another thing you shouldn’t skimp on, particularly for landscape photography. It needs to be light and portable enough to carry around while being sturdy enough to handle a bit of wind. Some have hooks under the centre column to hang your camera bag which can help weigh them down.
SHOOT IN RAW. You can shoot JPEG’s as well, but you need to be capturing as much information as possible, for processing later. Most landscape photos have a great depth of field (DOF) meaning shooting at a higher f/stop or smaller aperture.
Do you want a wide angle to capture all your surroundings, or a zoom to focus in on a specific part of your view?Sometimes less is more, so check the edges of your composition. Sometimes it’s easier to zoom in a little now to remove some annoying branch, bush, animal than to have to edit it out during processing.
I find the use of filters invaluable while out shooting.
For example, the effect of a polarising filter cannot be reproduced later during processing so it’s so important to get it right in the camera first. Also the use of solid neutral density (ND) filters to slow down the shutter speed, or graduated ND filters to tone down the sky or bright areas of your shot to reduce highlights blowing out. I use LEE Filters
HDR (High Dynamic Range)
Sometimes when shooting a landscape photography scene with a large dynamic range of light from bright whites to dark blacks it’s handy to take multiple bracketed exposures. e.g. Normal, under exposed and over exposed.
These can later be merged in processing into a single HDR photo or SuperRAW file to bring more balanced light to the scene.
Are you greeted with a wide expansive vista?
You may choose to capture multiple frames from one side to the next. Allow for roughly 30% overlap between the photos and shoot in portrait (vertical).
Also see this blog post on panoramic photography.
You’re home again and time to process some shots, after importing the photos to an organised folder structure you can open them in Lightroom.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is pretty much the industry standard for processing RAW files, it’s a powerful tool for processing but comes with a how lot of additional functionality including cataloguing and organising your image library, sharing web slideshows, printing etc.
There is a subscription called Creative Cloud or CC which is only $10 AUD per month, it includes Photoshop and a suite of mobile apps to process on the go. It’s a great investment that you will not regret.
Below are screenshots of the main process steps I take in Lightroom. It’s a 49sec long exposure photo of mine from last November.
The long exposure was achieved by using a LEE Filters ‘BigStopper’ which is a 10stop solid ND filter.
Which blocks lots of light from entering the camera, meaning you have to take a longer exposure to gather the same amount of light. This results in all movement becoming blurred, clouds blend across the sky, running water turns smooth. Lots of creative opportunities.
There are tonnes of videos on YouTube showing various landscape photography processing workflows in Lightroom, one person I’ve learnt a lot from and watched heaps of their videos is Serge Ramelli.
As you can see, I prefer more vibrant & saturated colours, something that comes out great on Pixelpaint canvases, their colour reproduction and quality of finish is stunning and all my photos I’ve had printed to canvas by them have looked amazing.