includes comprehensive landscape
photography instruction. The following are sample paragraphs from only
a few of the topics discussed.
range is the range of light intensities that can be viewed/captured
from very dark to very bright while still maintaining detail in both
the very dark and very bright; defined as the number of stops from
detail less white to blocked up black. It is important to note that our
eyes can perceive about 12 stops of light without adjusting the pupil.
In situations where our pupils open and close for varying light, our
eyes can perceive about 24 stops. At the time of writing, most DSLRs
capture about 5 to 7 stops of light in any given scene. This explains,
why, even though we can see detail in the highlight area of a scene
with our eyes, what often records on the sensor is blown out;
over-exposed. Or, why, even though we can see detail in the shadow
areas of a scene with our eyes, what often records on the sensor is
blocked up; under-exposed. Often the contrast of a given scene may well exceed the range of
the sensor's ability to record it.
What is a stop of light? It is the amount of light required to either
increase by double, or decrease by half the current amount of light. To
gain or go up two stops of light is to receive four times more light
than one started with. Conversely, to lose or stop down two stops of
light is to receive four times less light than one started with.
Think of it this way, if a room is lit by two 100w bulbs one
can make it one stop brighter by adding two more 100w bulbs to the
room. Conversely, if one starts with a room lit by two 100w bulbs and
one bulb is removed, the room becomes one stop darker. Often
photographers will use the terms "opening up" and "stopping down".
Opening up refers to letting in more light, stopping down refers to
letting in less light.
In photography, an exposure occurs when we allow light to pass into our
light tight boxes and record on a medium. In the film days, if we
inadvertently opened the back of our camera while it was loaded with
film, an exposure occurred, not a good one, but an exposure
nonetheless. More accurately for our purposes, exposure is the total
amount of light allowed to fall on the sensor during the process of
taking a photograph.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS FOR
Only three camera settings affect exposure, they are ISO, Aperture and
Shutter Speed. That is it! With all of the fancy buttons, dials and
menu settings available on today's cameras, I hope it is comforting to
know, the exposure is determined by only three.
HERE'S THE BIG TRICK OF
can make the wrong exposure decision for a scene. Yes, it's true!
Camera meters can be fooled because of the way they are designed to
function. They sample the light in the viewfinder and no matter how
bright or dark the scene is, they adjust the aperture and/or shutter
speed so that the light exposes as a medium tone. This means bright,
white snow (light tone) is darkened to gray, drab snow (medium tone);
and a black bear (dark tone) filling most of the frame will be
lightened to a grayish, medium tone. That's how it works - it's that
simple. When shooting a medium tone scene such as a green forest,
grass, gray tree bark, etc., then the camera's metering system in auto
mode will set the aperture and shutter speed for a proper exposure.
Manufacturers design their metering systems this way because they want
the majority of photographs taken with their cameras to be acceptable. Since most
photographs are taken of medium tone subjects, the majority are
CAMERA SETTINGS - SETTING UP
Knowing how to set up a camera for landscape photography has become far
more daunting in the digital age. There are so many settings and
choices, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. In this section I address a few
of the most important settings, based on the idea that the camera will
be used to shoot landscape photographs from a sturdy tripod. The
settings I give are the ones I use, that does not make them right or
wrong, they are simply the settings I like for my workflow.
What does a great outdoor photograph have that snapshots do not? Superb
composition! It is an image that catches the eye of the viewer and
evokes an emotional response, preferably the one intended by the
photographer. There is a huge difference between taking snapshots and
photographs. When taking snapshots, we tend not to scrutinize subject
placement or evaluate complementing or distracting elements. Yet when
taking photographs, we pay careful attention to every aspect of the
composition. In photography, composition is the arrangement of elements
(mountains, streams, lakes, flowers, etc.) in the viewfinder that will
create an image. The landscape photographer's goal is to make this
arrangement as captivating and pleasing to the eye as possible.
Composition is subjective in the choice of subject matter, lighting,
location and perspective. However, there are guidelines that can lead
one down the path to improved composition. The following tips will help
one achieve greater success. Please note, there are exceptions to all
of the following compositional tips. It is not uncommon to violate them.
Great news! There's not a lot of critical equipment required for
landscape photography. Besides the camera and lenses, I'd say that only
two or three items are really required in the field. They are a
landscape tripod, polarizer, and possibly a split-neutral density
filter. The bad news is, with the advent of digital cameras, roughly
50% of the process to create a fine landscape photograph is field work,
the remaining 50% is post processing. This means, to consistently
produce desirable landscape photographs, one also must purchase a
quality digital darkroom such as Adobe Photoshop.
Don't just buy one, use it! I cannot stress this enough. This is a very
important piece of equipment. A tripod is a must for clear, sharp
photographs. With long shutter speeds often required for landscape
photography, hand holding is not an option. At practically every
photography workshop I lead, participants struggle to gain familiarity
with a piece of equipment they've owned, but seldom used. Oftentimes,
they are using the wrong kind of tripod, resulting in broken equipment
and missed opportunities as they fret with adjustments.
What is a proper tripod for landscape photographers? An
important feature to look for is a tripod with legs that do not attach
to a center post. Many landscapes require shooting from uneven ground,
hillsides and other precarious places. The most suitable tripod for
these varied surfaces is one with legs that move independently and can
lock in a variety of positions out to 90 degrees. One is also best
served by a tripod that can be adjusted from very close to the ground
to standing height without having to crank up an extension shaft.
Another useful feature is a quick-release head, allowing one to quickly
and simply attach the camera to the tripod. The tripod head should tilt
to hold the camera in vertical format.
Below is pages 168 & 169 from the
landscape photography instruction section of the book.