Through the Gadling Lens: adding some oomph to your landscape shots

I was recently talking to a friend of mine, and he was lamenting the fact that his landscape photographs seemed a bit “boring.” “I look at all these other landscapes in the Gadling flickr pool,” he said, “and they’re so much more exciting than mine. What can I do to make my shots more compelling?”

To be honest, of all my photography, I struggle with making my landscapes interesting more than any other — shooting people is easy, I think. It’s really good scenery that’s difficult. And so I thought I’d go through some of the amazing landscape photographs in our Flickr pool, and point out some of their aspects that make them compelling. With some luck, some of the observations will help catapult us all into become the Ansel Adams-quality photographers we all can be.
1. Shoot with a relatively wide angle lens.

First things first: make sure that you’re using the right lens. As you probably remember, we discussed the various types of lens for various types of photography before — and the upshot is that if you’re shooting a landscape, you need a lens with a smaller focal length, rather than one with a larger focal length. For most landscape photography, I would choose a lens of, say 50mm or less. If you choose one much larger — say 100 mm — you’ll likely be disappointed how much of the scenery the lens crops out of the resulting image (although that type of lens is fabulous for portrait photography).
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Beautiful Black-And-White-Photography

Toni Frissell
In her legendary photos Toni Frissell impresses with a strong trend toward surrealism or realism. The photo presented below, although in black and white, is both extremely sharp and clear. To achieve such level of clarity in black and white is extremely hard.

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Tilting and Shifting in Photography

Tilt

On a regular camera, the image plane (containing the film or image sensor), lens plane, and object plane are parallel, and objects in sharp focus are all at the same distance from the camera. When the lens plane is tilted relative to the image plane, the plane of focus (PoF) is at an angle to the image plane, and objects at different distances from the camera can all be sharply focused if they lie on a straight line. With the lens tilted, the image plane, lens plane, and PoF intersect at a common line; this behavior has become known as the Scheimpflug principle.

When the PoF coincides with an essentially flat subject, the entire subject is sharp; in applications such as landscape photography, getting everything sharp is often the objective.

The PoF can also be oriented so that only a small part of it passes through the subject, producing a very shallow region of sharpness, and the effect is quite different from that obtained simply by using a large aperture with a regular camera. It can be used to make a large scene appear much smaller, as the shallow depth of field is similar to that achieved by a macro lens on miniature subjects.

View camera users usually distinguish between rotating the lens about a horizontal axis (tilt), and rotation about a vertical axis (swing); small- and medium-format camera users often refer to either rotation as “tilt”.

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