If you’re like me and you have two small kids, waiting for long periods of time for the perfect light or hiking for a distance of 10 km up a mountain for the perfect spot aren't things that you can easily do.
To go out in the landscape I need to pack up the entire family, dog included and take them out on a day trip. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of preparation and planning. I'd say these are my top tips for those of you who have a family tagging along with you.
When you're able to take shots, take a lot of them and with different viewpoints. Finding the right viewpoint plays a big role in the composition of a landscape photo. Higher viewpoints tend to open up the planes in an image and what you should do if you’re using a basic or kit lens. Spend time looking for creative views.
2. RAW, Histogram & Manual
Shoot RAW, learn how to read your histogram and learn how to shoot in manual mode. You want to keep your ISO as low as possible. Having the lowest ISO gives you the best dynamic range. Shooting RAW is so much better. Sometimes the scene looks amazing and you snap the shot but you forget to adjust the settings because the kids are arguing in the back seat over the armrest. #mylife
Bring extra sweaters, gloves, hats and snacks for the kids. So many times, I've missed out on a long exposure opportunity because I was too cold (it gets super windy here) and the kids had nothing to keep them busy in the back of the Pathfinder. If you live somewhere where the weather can dramatically change in an instant like in Alberta, you’ll want to be prepared.
Charge your batteries and set your manual settings before you go. I was driving once, as a passenger and a coyote decided to cross the highway right in front of us, I busted out my camera and took the shot. I was feeling so excited since this was my first time I was seeing a coyote in real life! I look down to check out the shot and it was insanely blown out, white everywhere. I shoot RAW but I wasn’t able to save it. This was 4 years ago and I still regret not having my camera ready to go. I remember to set my manual settings now!
Plan your trip before you go. Research where the sun or the moon will be in the sky at a certain location using the app called Sun Seeker. Check out Google Earth for an idea of what a location looks like, it’s going to save you time since you can plan your shots.
6. Seize the Moment
The light won’t always be perfect so shoot anyway. Make the most of the moment. Besides a completely blue sky with no clouds is so boring! I love to go out when the weather is a little dramatic.
7. Connect With Nature
If you can, sit in silence and listen to your surroundings. Pay attention to the small things and look closer. This is my favourite part, it helps me relax and I get to teach the kids about what we’re hearing or seeing. We’re connecting with nature and this is why I’m passionate about landscape photography.
8. Rule of Thirds
Always keep your horizon along the top third or the bottom third of the image. If the sky is significant, give the sky more room in the image and vice versa.
Bring a tripod and some neutral density filters. If you have kids, that probably means you come last, there’s not always funds left over for expensive gear. Try out the brand Neewer on Amazon, I got my filters from them and it cost me less than a coffee a day for a month. This photo was taken with one of their filters. Not sponsored or anything, I just really like this brand of photography gear and I recommend it.
The best time of the day for landscape photography would be either at sunrise or sunset. Wait until the sun is just below the horizon and that will give you peak light for amazing colours in your photo. Having the sun at high noon is bad for landscapes, the light is too harsh and you’ll lose a lot of detail in your image, RAW or not..
Learn how to edit with Photoshop and Lightroom! You can fake panoramas and golden hours, especially with RAW files!
Look for unusual subjects and elements of nature, like weird trees, wildlife or if you can put a person in your image to give the viewer perspective. Practically anything can be used as foreground as long as it’s composed well.
13. Natural Frames
Use nature elements in your foreground to frame the view in the background, which adds interest for the viewer. I used the dark rocks here at Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick to emphasize them and to add more impact to the scene.
So remember to be ready for any weather and any situation, get out there and have fun! Having things like magnifying glasses, bug kits and even their own camera helps to keep my kids busy while staying close to me and they are learning in the coolest way ever! I’m truly blessed to be able to do this with and for my kids.
Next time, I’ll talk more about composition tips, I didn’t want to end up with a super long post so I’ve cut it in half, stay tuned and…