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If I had to choose my biggest complaint about landscape photography, it would probably be the difficulty in getting a well-exposed image.
You've been there before - with a bright sky and a dark landscape, you find that you either have a well-exposed sky, a well-exposed landscape, but not both.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to rectify this most-frustrating situation.
In the video above, Joshua Cripps outlines landscape photography tips designed for getting a well-exposed landscape photo each and every time you shoot.
It's a simple formula for success, even if you're a brand-spanking new photographer.
Check out his tutorial, and for a step-by-step outline of the process, read on below!
Editor's Tip: These are the three must-have prime lenses you need in your camera bag.
Step 1: Compose the Shot, Set the Aperture, and Focus
The first step in the process is to setup your camera for the shot.
That means using a tripod to ensure your camera and lens have the solid support they need to get a sharp landscape photo.
That also means selecting an aperture that allows you to set the depth of field so you have everything in the shot in focus.
If you aren't completely sure how to set the aperture, consult this detailed guideline on aperture and depth of field.
And, if you aren't certain how to set the focus for a landscape photo, be sure to consult Joshua's video above.
Again, it's a quick guide that will give you all the details you need to take gorgeous landscape photos.
Step 2: Meter to the Middle
The next step in getting a well-exposed landscape photo is to set your metering to the middle.
Begin by putting your camera in evaluative or matrix metering mode.
Not to get too technical, but these metering modes take light information from all over the scene, with the idea that in the end, the final exposure will take into account everything from the brightest to the darkest areas.
For a quick tutorial on metering modes, check out this guide.
YouTube Screenshot/Joshua Cripps
As Joshua demonstrates in his video, your next task is to manually adjust the shutter speed until the light meter is in the middle.
In the screenshot above, you can see how to use a light meter. Notice how the meter shows no bars to the left or right of center. That's exactly what you want to get a well-exposed image.
Step 3: Check Your Camera's Histogram
Your camera's histogram shows a graphical representation of the light values in the image.
As you can see in the graphic above, light values from shadows to highlights are represented.
When you look at your histogram, you want to see something close to what you see in the chart above - higher values in the middle and lower values toward the edges.
If there's a spike on the left side of the histogram, the image is too dark. If there's a spike on the right side, it's too bright.
If that's the case, adjust the shutter speed again - slow it down if the histogram is skewed to the left and speed it up if the histogram is skewed to the right.
If you need further details on how to use a histogram, consult this article.
Another Way to Get a Well-Exposed Landscape Photo
In the introduction, I noted how one of the biggest frustrations of taking landscape photos is an uneven exposure due to a bright sky and dark foreground.
If you ask me, the simplest way to resolve this issue is to use a graduated neutral density filter to help you bring down the brightness of the sky.
As you can see above, this Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Ultra Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter does just that because it is darker on the top and gradually lightens toward the bottom.
That means that you can get a well-exposed landscape photo by simply using a filter and fine-tuning the camera settings as discussed above.
The reason why I recommend Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Ultra filters is because they are among the best filters on the market today.
And just like with your camera lens, with filters, you get what you pay for.
Cheap filters are more likely to diminish the quality of your images because they have poor optics. Not the case with these Firecrest Ultra filters, though...
These professional filters are bonded to give them greater durability over time. Plus, they're made with a "lap and polish" technique which gives them unparalleled clarity and sharpness.
What's more, you can choose from filters that offer from 1-stop to 5-stops of darkness (the one shown above is a 5-stop filter).
In other words, not only can you get a well-exposed photo with these filters, but you'll also retain excellent sharpness, too.
What's not to like about that?!