Delight in detail with your DSLR
Taking a step up from your smartphone? We’ve asked some professional photographers for some great tips for capturing those winning shots with a DSLR camera.
If you’re serious about high-quality, sleek shots of the outdoors, grab your DSLR and your sturdiest footwear and immerse yourself in nature’s beauty.
“Without doubt the best thing you can do to improve your landscape photographs is simply to set your alarm clock! Regardless of camera the best outdoor photographs are usually captured around dawn and dusk when the quality of light can be magical. Dawn is especially pleasing; as well as colourful skies you may find the landscape blanketed by low lying mist or sugar coated in frost.” – Adam Burton
“Knowing where and when to be capturing the great outdoors is vital in achieving those inspiring shots we all seek on camera. You don’t have to be out and about on a sunny day; more often than not you’ll enjoy Mother Nature’s awe-inspiring delights when the storms roll on in.” – Terry Abraham
Tip: Snap the same shot at differenttimes of the day. You’ll really get afeel for the perfect lighting to makethe landscape pop. Strong light workswell for this but play around to findout what works best for you.
“This photo has transpired to be rather iconic for me and my documentary ‘Life of a Mountain: Scafell Pike’. I nearly didn’t capture it! It features in the finale to my film and was taken at dawn from the summit of Bowfell. Words cannot do the scene justice. I was camped just yards away on deep snow and the temperatures were well below zero making it all the more difficult to operate and fully function my camera. This photo is a good example of how perseverance can pay off – which is the key to much of landscape photography.” – Terry Abraham
“Lead the eye into the photo with layers of interest – in this case, the couple on the landing stage in the foreground (helped by the splash of colour of the man’s jumper), the arriving ferry in the middle distance, and the skyline of beautiful Salcombe in the background, topped off by some lovely fluffy clouds above.” – Gary Holpin
Tip: Shoot far-away subjects with a light background. If the background is dark, make sure the subject is wearing brightly coloured clothing to stand out. Likewise, if you’re capturing up-close shots of coloured flowers, emphasise their brightness with a dark shadowed background.
“Know your camera! I love the level of control I have with my SLR (a Nikon D300). To achieve this dark, atmospheric silhouette of glistening ink cap fungi, I had to under-expose the image by two stops. When I got my first SLR 10 years ago, adjusting the shutter speed and aperture, and altering the exposure, along with a multitude of other settings on the camera seemed overwhelming. Now I know my camera like the back of my hand. Taking the time to get to know your tools is a priceless lesson and gives you an advantage when it comes to taking great shots!” – Jodie Randall
Tip: Use people to portray scale. Add context to your landscape shot and take a photo of a person standing far away from the camera. This will show just how vast the landscape is.
Tip: Use an ultra-wide angle lens to show depth. A 10-20mm zoom lens is ideal for capturing depth in a tight spot. The trick here is to get up close to your subject otherwise they can look far away. It’s a great technique for taking impressive selfies!
“Getting ‘up close and personal’ is a good approach, whether on land or in thewater. Immersing yourself in the activity, makes anyone looking at yourphotograph feel connected to the adventure. Use of ‘leading lines’, such as thediagonals made by the climber’s right arm and leg in this photo help convey asense of depth.” – Phil Hemsley
Tip: Position yourself to create drama. Shooting from up high or crouching down low can lend adifferent perspective to your shots. Choose an ultra-wide angle lens and crouch down low to emphasise the foreground or give the image some scale by shooting from way above your subject.
“This image of Staple Tor, Dartmoor, was taken witha full-frame Sony A7R and Canon 16-35mm f4 lensusing a Metabones IV adapter. The low lightconditions on this chilly spring sunset required atripod and remote release. Two exposures were used to create the final image without the use of any filters but a soft graduated filter could also be used to reduce the brightness of the sky.” – Richard Fox
Tip: Know your aperture. Put the focus on the subject of your photo by setting the aperture wideand to a low number such as f5.6. If you want the whole image to be in sharp focus, narrowthe aperture to f16 and use a wide-angle lens.
Tip: Use the rule of thirds. Instead of placing the subject directly in the centre of the photo, dividethe shot into thirds based on the longer edge of the frame, with your subject positioned onthe imagined third lines.
“Composition is simply how you arrange your subjectwithin the frame. A fine example of good composition iswhen the main subject in one corner is offset by thesecondary subject in the corner diagonally opposite. Thisencourages the eye to wander around the frame. There isan implied diagonal line from the boat to the sun in thisimage, and diagonals create dynamism.” – Tony Howell
“Good planning is essential to capture great landscape images. Check local forecasts to ensure the conditions are suitable. Try and avoid cloudless days – 30-50% cloud cover will help add life, depth and drama to your shots.” – Ross Hoddinott
Looking for a project to help test out your skills?
Join our #ScrapbookOutdoors photo project, where we are trying to capture a year outdoors by setting different photography themes each week. Every Wednesday we gather up our favourites and feature them on our blog, before a new theme starts every Thursday.