How to take better landscape photos

Next week is my spring break, and while many see this as an opportunity to head home or head to the beach, I’m grabbing my camera and heading into the great outdoors in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. A huge chunk of my break will be spent shooting photos of the area surrounding the city of Gatlinburg, many of those photos will be of scenic landscapes.

The fine folks over at Lightstalking must have sensed my adventure coming, since they just posted an article titled, How to Get Better Landscape Photos Through Correct Metering. I was skeptical, mainly since I couldn’t figure out how sharing a metering mode could fill an entire blog post. So I clicked expecting a paragraph or two. Boy was I wrong.

It started with an observation, landscape photos are the hardest category of photograph for a photographer to shoot. Why? You can’t move your subject, you can’t modify the light on your subject, and your movements will have little effect on the perspective you have on your subject.

So what does this have to do with metering? Well, to start, for those of you that aren’t familiar with metering you might have trouble understanding the Lightstalking post so I’ll do my best to dumb it down.

This is a light meter. A centered rectangle means you’ve exposed your metering point(s) correctly.

Not all metering is the same. Do you tell you camera to average the lighting of the whole frame (evaluative/matrix metering) or do you tell it to pick a tiny point to judge the brightness of (spot metering)? Each has its pros and cons, but at the end of the day you’ll alway sacrifice some aspect of your photos. An exposed sky means a dark landscape. An exposed landscape means an overexposed sky.

This photographer decided that he/she wanted to preserve the haze catching the sunlight so he/she darkened the scene, this leads to a loss of detail in the shadows of the mountains but the decision was made that the story was better told with the proper exposure of the haze and sky than with the proper exposure of the shadows, and that’s okay.

So Kent at Lightstalking recommends taking multiple spot meters around your subject, seeing what setting is needed to expose each properly, then find out what the average settings would be to expose them all as much as possible. This will require time, will require math, and might require you to write a few things down. But if you can snap an image while avoiding letting any parts of your subject be completely white or completely black, this will give you total control over the post production of your image yielding absolutely stunning results.

I’ll have a post up on Friday, then I’ll be away from all technology from a week. But I’m excited to apply these principles and get back to you with the results in a couple of weeks! Many apologies if this was difficult to follow, the Lightstalking article goes very deep into the details of this topic and I did my best to summarize and simplify. Hope you found it helpful!

Source: Lightstalking

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