Inspire your landscape images with new ideas by trying out some of our landscape photography projects

This week, why not make an effort to do something a little different. If you’re guilty of relying on the same locations, same processes, and same methods with your landscape photography, then a new project could be exactly what you need to shake things up.

Here are a few projects you can try in a weekend, all of which should get you thinking creatively about your landscape photography. We’ll be adding to this page regularly, so keep checking back!

Lavender Fields

An early start can see you rewarded with lovely golden light at sunrise. Photo by Phil Hall

An early start can see you rewarded with lovely golden light at sunrise. Photo by Phil Hall

While Provence and the heat of the south of France may spring immediately to mind when we think of lavender fields, warmer summers here in the UK have seen a resurgence of lavender fields on these shores. With neat, long, vibrant and often undulating coloured rows of lavender carpeting the landscape, these fields are fabulous subjects to photograph during the summer months before the lavender is harvested around September time. With a growing number of lavender fields dotted around the UK and the lavender coming into bloom, now’s the perfect time to get out there and photograph these stunning vistas.

  1. While it may not be possible with all lavender farms in the UK, some have public rights of way running across their fields, allowing you to shoot at sunrise or sunset when the farm itself is likely to be closed.
  2. For wide shots, get down low and look for gradients in the land that create pleasing, gently arched rows of lavender that gradually disappear into the distance, resulting in lovely natural patterns.
  3. Use a macro lens or fast prime to isolate individual lavender heads combined with a shallow depth of field to deliver a rich and punchy background. Shoot on a bright, overcast day for best results.
  4. With rows of lavender offering a perfect backdrop, they’re a great place to shoot a lifestyle portrait. Just remember, though, to avoid trampling through plants and stick to paths to avoid damaging the flowers.

 

Gone Fishing

A little fill-in flash can balance the exposure between the subject and the background. Phot by Callum McInerney-Riley

A little fill-in flash can balance the exposure between the subject and the background. Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

With the coarse-fishing season having started on 16 June, many of the UK waterways will now be populated by avid anglers. Often the landscapes around lakes and rivers are very open, contrasting a solitary angler with the big natural expanse makes for fantastic environmental portraits. Also, with the water reflection there’s usually great light to work with. Of course, it’s courteous to ask the consent of any person you are photographing, but most will happily oblige. There are canals, rivers and public lakes up and down the UK located in some very picturesque parts of the country. To track down your nearest water, check out canalrivertrust.org.uk or visit Google Maps.

  1. Usually the best way to capture an angling landscape is to shoot at dawn. Often mist can be photographed rising from the water as the sun emerges and the temperature increases, creating lots of drama.
  2. Try shooting an angler around sunrise or sunset and adding a touch of fill-in flash. This will allow you to capture the rich, vibrant colours of the sun, but it will also add detail to your subject as opposed to just a silhouette.
  3. Anglers will often be doing something interesting, such as casting, setting up their tackle or, if they’re lucky enough, reeling in a fish. Try capturing this action in a single shot using a fast shutter speed.
  4. Lakes, canals and rivers are often a hotbed for wildlife. It’s worth having a telephoto lens in case the opportunity to photograph a kingfisher, deer, mink or other common bank-dwelling creature arises.

 

Panoramas

Shooting a panoramic image is a greatway to create a striking vista. Phot by Tom Carlton

Shooting a panoramic image is a greatway to create a striking vista. Photo by Tom Carlton

Whether you’re photographing a sprawling countryside vista, or an impressive city skyscape, a panoramais the tool of choice when it comesto capturing an expansive setting.

A panorama is created by taking a series of photos, usually panning from left to right across a scene, and then digitally stitching the images together using editing software, such as Photoshop, or via a downloadable app. Thanks to the fact that a vast number of modern digital cameras now feature a built-in panorama shooting mode, panoramas have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why when you stop to take a look at some of the impressive results that can be created using the technique. So, if you’ve never taken a panorama before, now is the time to get out there and do it. You’ll soon discover just how much fun they can be to create.

  1. When shooting your panorama, it’s essential to ensure that each image is taken using the same exposure settings, otherwise when it comes to merging the shots together there will be a visible seam, ruining the illusion.
  2. Keep an eye out for moving objects, such as cars and people. If they happen, move across your scene as you’re taking the series of images – they may end up appearing twice in your shot, which may spoil the effect.
  3. The next step is to upload them to your computer and merge them to create your panorama. This can done quickly and easily using Photoshop’s Photomerge option by heading up to File > Automate > Photomerge.
  4. If you don’t have your DSLR to hand, you’ll find that most modern smartphones feature a built-in panorama-shooting mode. This allows you to shoot and stitch together a panorama, all from your smartphone.

 

Poppy Fields

Shooting into the light brings out the delicacy of the poppies' petals. Photo by Nigel Atherton

Shooting into the light brings out the delicacy of the poppies’ petals. Photo by Nigel Atherton

Transforming the landscape with a blanket of red, a rich and vibrant poppy field is the perfect photographic subject at this time of year. Offering a host of photo opportunities, from broad vistas to tight close-ups, they’re a great summer subject.You’ll probably need to tap into a bit of local knowledge to find one, or failing that, Flickr is a great place to look for locations that other members have found in the past.

Try to check out the location beforehand in order to work out the best viewpoints, but be sure not to trespass on any private land. Then, when the light’s right, you’ll be ready to go. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  1. To capture a whole field of poppies, look for a higher vantage point to accentuate the rich reds. You might even want to take a stepladder with you. A strong background focal point is useful for breaking up the horizon.
  2. Don’t write off your chances of shooting if it’s a windy day. Experiment with neutral density filters to slow your shutter speed down and inject a bit of movement into the shot, resulting in a gentle swirl of red.
  3. Don’t be afraid to shoot into the sun, especially if it’s low in the sky, as the backlighting will highlight the spikes and stem of the poppy. Use a reflector to bounce light back towards the poppy to balance the exposure.
  4. As well as a wideangle lens, shoot with a longer telephoto lens to really compress the perspective of the scene. It will allow you to crop in tightly and pick out individual flowers or areas of a field for a more graphical result.

 

Shoot from the Ground Level

Get down low for more dynamic composition. Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

Get down low for more dynamic composition. Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

Frequently, we photographers put the camera to our eye, compose and shoot without paying too much attention to the foreground. The foreground can often be rather drab and, if we’re not careful, it can dominate the image more than we intend it to. For example, when taking pictures of a car, the road is not very exciting and often detracts from the image. By switching the perspective of the shot and shooting from a low angle, little of the road surface will appear in the image and far more emphasis will be placed on the subject.

This technique can bring a freshness to a whole host of subjects, providing there is a strong focal point to the shot. This weekend, why not try using this ultra-simple trick to add some more impact to your images.

  1. Many recent cameras have an articulated LCD screen, which can tilt and rotate. If you have a camera with this feature, use it to your advantage to get down to a low vantage point.
  2. If your camera has the type of Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to control the camera using a smartphone or tablet, then connect the camera to the device and trigger the camera remotely.
  3. Some tripods boast the ability to remove the centre column or move it out of the way, allowing you to shoot at ground level. This will be useful if shooting at shutter speeds too slow to be handheld.
  4. Subjects do not react to a photographer shooting at ground level in the same way as they do when the camera is at eye level. This makes it an excellent technique to use when you want to capture people candidly.

 

Traffic Trails

A high viewpoint, a solid tripod and a cable release are all you need for successful traffic-trail shots. Photo by Tom Carlton

A high viewpoint, a solid tripod and a cable release are all you need for successful traffic-trail shots. Photo by Tom Carlton

At this time of year, there are fewer hours of daylight for photography. On the plus side, the winter gives us the perfect excuse to capture low-light images – in particular, traffic trails.

It’s relatively simple to do, but the results are incredibly rewarding. The process involves finding a suitable location where moving cars can pass through your shot (usually this is on a footbridge over a busy road), then mounting your camera on a tripod and using a very slow shutter speed in order to create a trail of light. Although not mandatory, a wideangle lens is often a good choice, as it will allow you to pack a greater stretch of road and the surrounding scenery into your shot.

  1. When shooting with long exposures, a sturdy tripod is an absolute must. Also, take care when setting up to ensure that your tripod is situated on sturdy ground, so as to avoid any wobbling or movement during the exposure.
  2. Try to avoid shooting too late into the night. The twilight hours are often best, as the sky will be just light enough to retain its deep blue colour and cloud details for a much more interesting background.
  3. Using a cable release is advisable, as this will prevent you from having to touch, and potentially wobble, the camera as you take the shot. If you don’t have one, try using the camera’s self-timer function instead.
  4. In order to achieve long, continuous traffic trails you’ll need to use a very slow shutter speed to ensure that the shutter remains open long enough for the vehicles to pass through the scene – 15secs or longer is best.

 

Urban Landscapes

An urban canal at night creates an interesting image. Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

An urban canal at night creates an interesting image. Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

Rolling hills, beautiful countryside and a striking sunrise or sunset are usually what spring to mind whenyou think of landscape images. Many photographers are guilty of overlooking the urban landscapes. However, providing they’re composed correctly, scenes with structures can make excellent subjects.

It’s best to look for buildings that have an interesting shape and to find scenes with strong leading lines that draw the eye across the image. The easiest way to do this is to use Google Maps and select Street View. This will allow users to search an area and find a suitable urban location. It’s also worth noting that scenes will look great at night.

  1. If shooting subjects that are illuminated at night, then try shooting 30mins to an hour after sunset. This will usually mean you will capture the illumination but also keep some colour in the sky.
  2. Sometimes areas that are heavily illuminated by a light source will suffer from blown-out highlight areas. Taking bracketed exposures will ensure the best balance of dynamic range is achieved.
  3. Often urban landscapes are restricted by how far the photographer can move back from the scene in order to frame everything in shot. It’s advisable to pack a lens that has a focal length of between 12mm and 24mm.
  4. In many landscape images, the foreground elements make the picture stand out. Try getting something in shot that works with the composition, such as a chained bicycle or railings leading away.

 

Waiting Game

Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

Photo by Callum McInerney-Riley

Over a period of a few hours, a landscape scene can change dramatically. It is very possible that cloud will move across the sky, new clouds will form, the weather will change – often within minutes – and so, of course, will light levels. Shooting the same scene over a long period of time can capture some truly amazing images. Often there will be a time when the clouds are positioned beautifully and the light is just right, but ordinarily this balance would be very hard to achieve with just a single shot.

So why not try to capture this by shooting a sequence of images with an intervalometer, all the while keeping a careful eye on the camera’s exposure.

  1. Moving around your chosen location and taking a few practice frames from different heights and angleswill help to gauge the best position from which to shootthe sequence. Be sure of the composition before you start.
  2. When shooting long exposures in low light,it can be hard to visualise the final image, but using this technique to shoot into darkness often yields great results. Seemly uninspiring moments frequently make the best shots.
  3. There’s a good chance you will be shooting your sequence of images over a few hours, so it’s important you stay as comfortable as possible. Taking a flask of hot tea or coffee, some food and a copy of AP is a good start.
  4. Creating a small collection from a sequence of images, like the one pictured right, is a powerful way of showing the passing of time, particularly if the scene has changed a lot during the sequence.

 

 

Capture your Town

Tom

You don’t need to travel far to tell a story with your images

Sometimes just one photograph isn’t enough to truly capture the feel of your surroundings. Whether you live in a quiet rural village or you’re situated right in the heart of a busy city, there will be a host of buildings and landmarks that help to make your home town what it is. So this weekend, why not try to capture this in a series of images, that when placed together demonstrate what it is that really makes your town stand out. This could be its collection of great historical buildings, its lush and vibrant parks, or even the hustle of the business district. Once you’ve captured a series of images, merge them into a multi-image montage using Photoshop to really give the project its full effect.

  1. Before heading out to shoot, make a list of iconic buildings that you feel help to make your town or city important. This could be a historic site like a cathedral, or even a modern building, such as a football ground.
  2. Add variety to your montage by taking a mixture of close-up detail shots of things such as signs, monuments and statues, as well as a host of wideangle photos of buildings, scenic parks and important roadways.
  3. Your final montage can be constructed from as many photos as you like, although we would suggest that a minimum of three and a maximum of eight images will be just right for achieving the desired effect.
  4. Once you’ve collected your photos, import them into your computer and assemble the montage onto a new A4-sized document by going to File>New in Photoshop, and choosing the A4 paper preset under International Paper.