In a perfect world, wherever you visited would be rife with beautiful scenes beckoning for you to photograph them with your camera… Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect. Many places you visit will be crowded and what would have made for a beautiful photograph is surrounded by tourists or uninteresting buildings.
Most everyone has heard the term “make lemonade out of lemons” and the same rule applies to photography, you’ve got to make the best out of any situation. Many photographers will tell you they’ve found some of their favorite photographs in some of the most unlikely places. Here are some tips you can use if you ever find yourself someplace with less than ideal conditions for beautiful landscape photography.
Use a longer focal length to eliminate distraction and pull distant topography closer together. Wide angle lenses are the go to lens for most landscape photographers but they tend to cram as much into a photograph as possible and they make distant hills and mountains look even further away while telephoto lenses bring distant objects closer and eliminate potential distracting elements.
Composing with a telephoto lens is simple, focus on the subject that is most interesting in a scene. Telephoto lenses can be used to emphasize the most interesting elements in a scene, isolating the subject and eliminating distractions.
Get up extra early. Sometimes, even the most ordinary of landscapes look interesting during sunrise and sunset. It’s amazing how dramatic of a difference the angle of the sun makes. I recommend revisiting the same place, even if it initially seems disappointing, and photographing during different parts of the day. All of the photos on this page came from one of my least favorite places I’ve visited (both in regards to photography and as a place to vacation).
Use Live View to manually focus. In situations where I need sharp focus, and I have time to dial it in, I’ll switch to live view and zoom in with the + button next to my LCD screen (a magnifying glass with a plus in it), then I’ll use manual focus to achieve tack sharp images.
Don’t stop looking. If you are having trouble finding something to photograph think back to tip 1, using a telephoto lens doesn’t just help eliminate distractions it can also help you isolate something interesting. The image below was taken between two buildings with trash on the right… I didn’t have to worry about the trash on the side because I was using an 85mm lens as opposed to the normal 16-35mm lens I use in landscape photography.
Just because you are doing “landscape” photography does not mean you should ignore other types of photography. The shot below was taken while looking for a good area for some sunrise/sunset photography. Keep an open mind so you don’t limit yourself.
Adjust your attitude. Even before I visited Lake George, N.Y. I was sure I would not like it. It’s not a beautifully secluded chunk of wilderness or a bustling beach town… it’s a freak combination of the two that just doesn’t work. I was so dismayed that I considered not even taking my camera out of the bag. I had a bad attitude, much to my chagrin, and it wasn’t going to help me find a great photograph even if there was one to be found.
A better attitude, one that I normally leave the house with, is to be determined to find a great photograph no matter where you may land. It’s safe to say you can find something interesting to photograph no matter where you are, it’s almost impossible not to. Keep that attitude, not the one I had when I visited Lake George.