Painted Hills, in Central Oregon
Guest post by Mike Nakamura
Climbers often visit spectacular landscapes. Ever wonder how to capture the feeling of being there? As a professional photographer, I’ve been asked to share a few tips for taking landscape photos using a digital camera.
Do: place the horizon near the bottom or top third of the scene.
Tilt the camera up or down to achieve this. Unless the sky is the subject (eg; amazing clouds), you’ll often place the horizon line in the upper third of the photo. Even a lightweight tripod will improve your images. You’ll spend more time thinking about the shot and less time worrying about blurry shots caused by camera movement. Pick a high vantage point if possible. It opens up the scene as in this image of the Painted Hills (Central Oregon). If you’re visiting Smith Rock, this makes a nice rest-day diversion.
The single biggest mistake: placing the horizon in the middle of the shot.
Check your exposure (ie; too light or too dark) by looking at the viewfinder. Or, if your camera offers a histogram mode, use it to judge the exposure. Not right? Use the “exposure compensation” to adjust. Experiment with the exposure. After all, a few extra shots are free.
Know how to determine whether your camera is correctly focused. For most landscapes the preferred focus point is at “infinity” (ie; on the distant mountain, not on the wildflowers next to you). Some point and shoots will show the active focus point in the viewfinder. For others, you might need to take a shot and zoom in after the fact to see if distant objects are in focus. On an SLR this will be simpler.