Tuesday, May 04, 2010

12 Weeks to Better Photography: Week TEN

Whoa!  Its Week 10 already?  I've been away for a conference lately, and then laid up with a throat and ear infection, so I've been absent from the photography challenge for the last couple of weeks... but this week was all about landscapes - so I'm all in!

Taking a cue from Meredith, the host of this series, I've done some digging through some photos that I took last year on a trip to San Francisco, Monterey Bay & Big Sur and have found a few that follow the rules that Two Peas in a Bucket write about in this week's tutorial...  Here goes...

The key message of this week's lesson is that you can definitely take advantage of the fact that when taking pictures of landscapes you are outside - which means, 1 - you can boost your f/stop to help make more of the landscape in perfect focus, 2 - you can drop your ISO down to help eliminate the pesky noise and 3 - you can virtually disregard shutter speed since there shouldn't be too much movement in a landscape (however, if there was a bird moving across you landscape, you might want to up your shutter speed to be able to freeze that motion).

So, some of 2 Peas hints when photographing landscapes and some of my pics to illustrate...

2. Find a bird's eye view

Ok, this isn't the most clear picture ever (I think there was a bit of moisture in the air), but I think it illustrates the 'bird's eye view'.  I find that this hint might be the hardest to actually use because its hard to fake... unless there is a big hill or staircase nearby this hint is going to be difficult to execute.  Does anyone have any suggestions of how to fake it??

3. Locate a focal point 

I'm not certain that this is what they meant by choose a focal point, but I think that having something in the foreground of a landscape pic can really help in achieving a sense of perspective and depth in the photo... my go-to 'thing in the foreground' is a tree... but this old dead branch works too I think.

6. Play with shadows, silhouettes, and reflections 

7. Use lines to lead the eye 

10. Capture a nighttime scene

This photo was taken on a tripod and through our hotel window in San Francisco.

So just to finish up, I wanted to add my 2 cents with a couple hints of my own (and if you want to see the rest of the 2 Peas hints ... go here):

  • I think that pictures of landscapes almost always look best when photographed horizontally (landscape orientation instead of portrait).  It just seems to give more perspective of the horizon...
  • Don't forget about the Rule of 1/3s... keep the horizon in the bottom or top third of the photo (for example, the picture of the sailboats above would have been that much better if I had shifted down a bit and put the horizon in the top 1/3 of the picture).
  • Don't be afraid to break the rules (even the rule of 1/3s)!  The picture above of Coit Tower in SF just wouldn't be as good in my opinion if I had shifted right or left to get the tower to land to one side... its ok to give your object weight and the power to draw attention toward the center of the picture...
Ok, that's enough for this week - only 2 weeks to go!!

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