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- 3 Essential Lenses for Landscape Photography3 Essential Lenses for Landscape Photography
Landscape photographers love their wide-angle lenses because they’re ideally suited to capture both near and far elements in the landscape.
With so much foreground and background in a wide-angle shot, viewers have that much more color, texture, shapes, tones, and so forth to take in.
Additionally, wide-angle lenses give landscape photos wonderful depth that helps draw the viewer into the shot.
If you’re new to landscapes, give these tips a try for mastering wide-angle lenses.
Editor’s note: Wide-angle lenses are typically 35mm or wider on a full frame camera and about 24mm or wider on a crop sensor camera
Wide-Angle Landscape Tip: Get Low
Because of their wide field of view, wide-angle lenses give you an opportunity to get up close to foreground elements and highlight them in the shot.
But don’t just get up close, get low, too.
Quick Tip: Experiment with the lenses you use to photograph landscapes to get the best results. Learn why telephoto lenses are great for landscapes.
If need be, sit down or lay down on the ground so you’re on the same plane as the foreground element (like the rocks in the image above). This will get you a much-improved composition because you’ll be shooting out toward the landscape rather than down at one element of the landscape.
A wide-angle lens will also emphasize the foreground elements, so they will appear much larger in the shot than distant elements in the landscape.
For that reason, ensure that whatever you’re photographing in the foreground is worthy of highlighting in the shot.
Need to upgrade your kit with a wide-angle lens? Find affordable wide-angle lenses for your camera.
Be Aware of Distractions
When photographing a beautiful landscape scene, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on the mountain or river or another element you’re featuring in the shot.
But when you use a wide-angle lens, you have to be diligent in “checking your corners” to ensure there aren’t distracting elements creeping into the sides of the shot.
Distracting elements can be just about anything - a person or their shadow, a trash bin, a street sign, garbage, a bathroom and so forth.
Just get in the habit of looking at the edges of your shot before pressing the shutter button, that way if there are distractions present, you can adjust the composition to eliminate them.
Landscape Photography Tip: Keep Your Camera Level
Wide-angle lenses are well known for creating distortion, particularly around the edges of the shot.
That means that elements in the scene that have straight lines will have the appearance of bending inward when shooting with a wide-angle lens.
Quick Tip: Not sure what wide-angle lens to get for your Canon camera. Find out which lenses get top marks.
You can’t eliminate distortion altogether, but by keeping the camera level with the ground, you can at least minimize the impact of distortion on the shot.
Of course, this isn’t to say that you can’t embrace distortion as a creative tool…
Try angling the camera up and down and take sample images to see how distortion affects the scene. You might find that in some cases, the distortion adds an interesting element to the shot!
For more tips on using wide-angle lenses for landscape photography, check out the video above by Nigel Danson.
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Fill the Frame
One of the most common wide-angle mistakes is that people leave much of the frame devoid of detail. It makes sense given that wide-angle lenses can capture so much of the landscape in one shot.
The problem is that with a bunch of territory in the shot dedicated to open space, the photo can be a bit on the boring side.
To rectify this problem, make a concerted effort to fill the frame.
This can be done in a variety of ways, from including foreground elements as discussed earlier to physically moving closer to the primary subject. You can also compose a vertical shot (like above) to maximize the impact of the elements in the image.
You can use a frame within a frame as well - trees on either side of the shot, for example - to help mask some of the empty space and direct the viewer’s eye to the primary subject.
Likewise, using tricks like leading lines helps connect the foreground and background, so even if there’s some empty space, the viewer’s eyes will follow the line and not get stuck wandering around the shot.
Capturing gorgeous landscape photos is dependent on a lot more factors than the lens you use. Learning how to use your lens and maximize its strengths while minimizing its weaknesses is paramount to your success.
If you can follow these tips, you’ll be in a much better position to capture eye-catching wide-angle landscape photos. But don’t neglect working on things like composition, framing, mastering camera settings, and so forth as well.
A final piece of advice - If you need to upgrade your lens, make smart decisions. Buy used lenses to save money without sacrificing quality. Try third-party lenses in lieu of name-brand lenses as they can often be cheaper. You might even try renting a lens before buying, that way you can get a feel for how it performs before committing to a purchase.