how to capture breathtaking
landscape photos hand-held
The most common practice among landscape photographers is to use a tripod. It makes it possible to capture sharp images, noise-free. Hand-held landscape photos are the most typical method to take images.
Even so not every shot benefit from using a tripod, as it may abstract your movement, takes too long to set up...etc.
How to capture sharp images without a tripod? This might be the most frequent question asked.
So Let's look at some of the idea's how you can capture great landscape images handheld.
1. Lack Of Stability - Use Image Stabilization
1. You are possibly wondering why your photos are a little blurry?
The good news is that you might be able to reduce image blurring in post-processing. BUT why not do it right in camera?
Not everyone has steady hands, therefore the image slightly blurry due to camera shake. Every time you press the shutter button no matter how careful you are the camera will move.
Shaky hands can get you into trouble and make your images blurry. Prop your camera against something solid.
When you engage your shutter button you might shake your camera a bit just enough to make your image out of focus. My advice is to use a time delay of about 1-2 seconds. This is what I do if I shoot hand-held to capture sharp images. Even on a tripod could use that extra second.
Read More Tips below...
- 1Turn image stabilization on your lens if it's available. it will help to reduce the camera shake. (as for tripod use make sure this option turned off as it will do more harm than help).
- 2Brace your camera against something solid, like a tree or place it on a flat surface, but I suggest to use a delayed shutter action to compensate for any movement when engaging the shutter button.
- 3Hold your arm tight to your body, take a deep breath and exhale. Hold your exhale and take a shot.
When I took this image below it wasn't the most favorable weather despite the low lighting conditions managed to take a reasonably sharp image. How? I was lucky that my car was in the right positions so I propped my camera on top and started shooting.
There are more ways you can help to avoid blurry images when you take hand-held landscape photos.
2. Slow shutter speed - adjust to a faster speed
The biggest downfall of holding your camera handheld is the camera shake. The shutter speed becomes one of the most important factors to achieve a sharp image when photographing handheld. A small adjustment can make a significant difference. To achieve the sharpest image, make certain your shutter-speed matches the lens focal length. Normally I prefer adding another step up to the shutter speed making sure to capture the sharpest image possible.
- Your zoom lens is at 60mm > your shutter speed should be at least 1/60 second. (this is also called a minimum shutter-speed for hand-held).
- Your zoom lens is at 200mm > your shutter speed should be at least 1/200 second, better yet 1/250 second.
- Your zoom lens is at 400mm > your shutter speed should be at least 1/450 seconds
Of course, this doesn't mean if you have a wide-angle lens like 20mm you can safely handheld at 1/20 seconds. I would recommend not to be lower than 1/60.
When the conditions are great the shutter speed is your best friend. This shot was taken at 1/800 sec.
There are more ways you can help to avoid blurry images.
3. poor lighting - find the right ISO setting
The amount of light could be your biggest ally or your least favorite. I recently visited a local mountain for a hike with the hope of taking some pictures of the local scenery. Unfortunately, the weather turned gloomy and the sky was overcast with no definition in the clouds. I was ready to take the first photo but I realized I would have to set my shutter speed to a very low setting in order to capture enough light.
This would be the best time to increase the ISO to a higher setting. Most camera models will tolerate higher ISO numbers, but should you sacrifice the quality of your image adding noise and grain effect?
It is the question that you can only answer. Decide based on what is the story of your image. Is it a foggy, misty day or are you shooting indoors? You might be able to get away to increase your ISO, on the other hand, higher ISO will result in a brighter image, therefore you can set your shutter speed at a faster rate.
The image below taken in a darker overcast day, so the ISO image came in handy.
It was set to 400 ISO.
4. Horizon is not straight
A crooked horizon has ruined many a great landscape image. Fortunately, this easily fixed in post-processing. I wouldn't worry much about it. Keep in mind that you may lose some of the scenes when cropping your image. So best to get it right in camera.
There are different tools you can use to make sure to get your horizon straight.
You can use a few various tools to make sure your horizon is straight. Some cameras have a built-in level if not turn on your grid option in your camera viewfinder.
If you use a tripod, some may have built-in level finder.
Most of the time, I try to level the horizon in-camera to save time in post-processing.
Your best solution is to level the horizon in the camera.
4. Forgetting about aperture
Most lansdcape images benefit setting the aperture (F/stop) or in other term depht of field at between f/8 and f/11. You need to take some practice shots of the same schene to find your cameras sweet spot. Open the images in Post processing software and zoom in 100% and check sharpness in fore ground, mid ground and background.
Perfect example below how the wrong aperture setting can ruin a photo. The depth of field was too wide (f 2.8), shows blurring on the peremiter of the frame. This should would have beed greatly approved by setting the the aperture to f/11.
5. Landscape vs. portrait format
Some photographers believe you should only shoot landscape in landscape (horizontal) format. Most of the time, it is true, but in some instances, the portrait format makes the image more compelling.
Check the examples below, and you decide which version you like most.
5. Lost in translation - no clear focal point
Why is my photo looks uninteresting?
Don't follow the crowd. Try another spot or adjust your eye-level, and you might be surprised.
Ask yourself, what is the important focal point of your scene? Are you shooting the whole scene or just a small part of it? It is important to figure this out before your first photo.
It could be the clouds or the person in the scene, focusing on a flying bird, a winding river or road disappearing in the distance. The choice is yours, but think about what your viewers might see with their eyes.
I was flat on the ground to take this shot. A boring bench turned into a more interesting subject.
Burst mode - Multiple shots
You might be wondering what is burst mode?
It is a wonderful tool to have in your arsenal of shooting styles.
Burst mode, also called "continuous shooting mode" when you take multiple images in s short sequence without re-engaging the shutter button by holding it down for a few seconds. When you set your camera in "Burst" mode you have a better chance to capture a sharper image. It is great for moving subjects so you can time it perfectly without loosing that special moment.
Since most of us using digital cameras and storage is less important, while shooting multiple images in a sequence is might take up some of the space on your memory card, so use it sparingly.
Many digital cameras have this option easily enabled in its menu, Check your camera specific setting option.
Although I was using slow shutter speed to capture some movement, I engaged the burst mode to catch the right moment.
3. another common mistakes...
3. How much gear should you take with you?
Depending how long are you planning to stay out, where are you going, like hiking, kayaking.
Normally I carry very minimum gear so I can climb on trees, rocks or roll on the ground to catch a more interesting image. Usually I have a very small backpack edition to a zoom lens and a wide angle lens. Leave the filters and tripod behind for less weight. Other than that make sure you tell your friends when and where planning to return if you take a longer trip. Don't get lost, but get lost in a moment and enjoy.
Most photographer prefer to use tripod, but you like me and feels like too much trouble then handheld is your best option. But I have to say I keep my tripod close by on shorter trips or where easily accessed.
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