The Ultimate Cheat-Sheet to Landscape Photography Settings for The Best Shots

Cheat sheets are an all-time favorite with everybody including photographers and not for nothing! After all, you have all the tips and schemes before you at a glance and have a quick of learning things for great results. Whether you are an amateur or a hardcore professional photographer, this cheat sheet on landscape photography setting is sure to help you click and capture some runaway hit pieces!!!

Focal Length – What Focal Length is Best for Landscape?

Choosing the right focal length for the best landscape photography has several layers and options according to which the outputs differ. The ultimate truth is that there is no one universal focal length for clicking great landscape photography. But here are the best options for you to do a quick take depending on the place and theme that you choose to shoot.

  • Wide-Angle Lenses and Views

This is the most frequently used focal length as it allows you to capture the landscape at a single shot without having to stick a panorama. You get to capture the expanse of the surroundings as attractive vistas.

Focusing with a 21 mm lens can help you accommodate more than a single point of focus and bring in more details to give the piece depth and make it livelier. You can try out the same wide angle with a 25 mm lens with which you can capture the nearby elements along with those that are faraway to highlight the contrast of distance.

  • Ultra-Wide

If you want an awesome landscape portrait let the ultra-wide focus do its part! Just step back and include some elements of the foreground and give your piece more depth. Use a 16 mm for this effect. If you are using 24 mm, you may have to step back a bit more for the same effect.

  • Medium Focus Lens Views

With more people wanting to shoot even professional captures with improved cellphone cameras, the compacts going wider with medium focus are among the most used. These range from 28 mm to 35 mm and even cameras with fixed lens have them. With the 35 mm being more restricted, you have to decide on the subjects that you wish to include and those that you will have to leave out.

A 50 mm lens is good for a close zoom where there is little to cover in the distance with the horizon also fitting in nicely.

  • Short Telephotos

At 85 mm, you are in the realms of distant objects and their details as more interesting landscape subjects.

  • Long Telephotos

If you are in the mountains and wanting to shoot some jaw-dropping landscape views, this is the focal length to opt for. Rows of mountains and hills bring the drama alive with such lenses.

At 150 mm, you get the details out precisely and have ample opportunity to bring home a range of subjects in the landscape view.

Aperture – What Aperture Gives the Sharpest Image?

Aperture is the whole size of your lens that allows the light to come in and is one of the 4 factors that affect the depth of a photographic field. Everything that you see in landscape photography has to be sharp and the amount of light that enters has a big say in it.

The value of the aperture is actually the inverse of the number that it indicates. That is, f/22 is a small aperture whereas f/2.8 is a large aperture. The general rule is bigger the f-stop value, the sharper is the result. f/22 is actually a very small opening and allows so little light that there will be diffraction that will reduce image sharpness. It is usually difficult to control diffraction from f/22 onwards. A range between f/8 and f/16 will give you the best results.

The aperture that you choose from this selection again will depend on what you are shooting and how far it is from you. If you are capturing a sunset and the objects are about 200 feet away, using an aperture of f/11 will be good. With the close-to-camera foreground objects and a wide scene to capture, you may have to opt for an extremely high aperture value of f/22 to bring about the desired depth of field.

Lens – What Type of Lens is Best for Landscape Photography?

Ideally speaking, as a landscape photographer, you should have two lenses for high-quality landscape photography. Also, they will help you manage the weight of your luggage when you are outdoors and have to be on the move in a hunt for that perfect destination or even a particular spot.

Must-Have Lenses for Landscape Photography

The 16-35mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/4 are the two lenses that you should have as a landscape photographer! These cover all the different types of setting lengths that you will be covering as a landscape photographer. While the ultra-wide lens lets you get more subjects into the frame, the telephoto lens will allow you to get more subjects while adjusting the distance and depth between the subjects that are distant.

  • The 16-35mm Ultra-Wide Essential

This ultra-wide 16-35mm is a must when you are shooting traditional and expansive landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, building interiors, external architectures and the like. You can close in on the foreground and emphasize on the compositional elements. You will get f/4 and f/2.8 versions. While both weigh the same, f/2.8 fast aperture enable shooting of astro-photography and also quality landscape. In case you wish to opt for a f/4, look for one with an ISO mark.

  • The 70-200mm Must-Have

The 70-200mm is considered a war-horse by anyone that works with the camera! It covers a wide range of topics from portraits to motorsports. Though not used regularly for landscape shooting, it is a must for distant landscape shooting and especially for isolating subjects. You will more likely need medium-range apertures of f/8 and f/11.

The 16-35mm is definitely a better option than the 24-70mm when it comes to landscape photography as it allows you to intensify the foreground interest and also shoot in tight spots. Having the 16-35mm and 70-200mm are like having the Swiss Army Knife for a photographer allowing to hop out anywhere and at any time to adjust and shoot.

Filters – Lens Filters to Use for landscape photography

Lens filters have transforming final effects on photographs bringing out their colors and textures. They also help you get the right exposure and add an atmosphere to the scene.

  • Polarizing Filter

In case you wish to invest in only one filter for your landscape photography needs, it should be the versatile Polarizer.

This filter will help you bring alive the colors making them look vibrant cutting down on any reflection. Using it will take that distracting sheen of shiny objects or the rocks, allow you to see through the water and also glass. If you are shooting in sunlight, using the polarizer will take care of the harsh glare giving it a more natural look to it. Only make sure that you are working with the sun to one of your sides.

The only time that you should avoid using the polarizers is when you are using a wide angle lens as you may have uneven colors and darkening of the corners.

  • Graduated Neutral Density (ND) Filters

This filter has derived its name from the fact that colors in the photo are not affected by this Neutral Filter that only reduces that light that is reaching the camera sensor. Graduated ND filters have a gradient effect of reducing the light slowly from the totally transparent top to the fully dark bottom.

This becomes extremely helpful in landscape photography when the sky may be bright and the ground dark. The GND filter allows you to attain the right balance while retaining every detail in light and shadow.

Grad ND filters come in different strengths ranging from 0.3, 0.6, to0.9, that correspond to 1, 2, or 3 stop reduction in light. A good choice is to have a 0.3 and a 0.6, as the two give a combined effect of 0.9.

  • Warming Filters

You will need one of these when working on a dull and overcast day. Colors of your shoot are sure to look dull and insipid. Using the Warming Filter helps you get that orange tint and breathe life into the photographs. The most commonly used warming filters are those that are in the “81” series. They consist 81A, 81B, and 81C filters in the ascending order of their strength.

With the increased use of photoshop, warming filters are fast losing their place among photographers.

Shutter Speed – What is the Best Shutter Speed for landscape photography?

The length of time for which the shutter remains opens to allow the light in is technically termed as Shutter Speed. This is measured in seconds and fractions of seconds and can range anywhere from 1/1000 of a second to 30 seconds!

Most cameras have the option of giving exposure up to 30 seconds. The Bulb Mode in cameras give you the option of keeping the shutter open for as long as you want.

Choosing the right shutter speed is a fine art for any photography especially landscape photography. With the tips below, you should be able to develop the skill by yourself in some time.

The basic is that longer shutter speed registers more movement than shorter speed movements. If you are looking to freeze a quick movement, you will need a shutter speed higher than 1/100th of a second. With birds and animals in the scene, the speed should be higher than 1/1000th of a second.

Landscape photography uses both high shutter speed and longer speed. In the second case, that is technically also called Long Exposure photography, the exposure is used to blur movements and create a dreamy perspective of the scene. For example, a slow shutter speed of 8 seconds can help you blur the water for that desired effect but may not be right for that trailing effect in the skies. To get the dragging effect of the skies you will need the shutter speed will have to exceed 30 seconds.

Exposure – Which is the Best Exposure for High-Quality Landscape Photography?

Exposure is the combination of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Shutter speed controls motions, and the lens aperture decides the amount of light that passes through it.

The last parameter in the group is ISO that is the sensor’s sensitivity to how it records light. The higher the sensitivity, the more is its ability to capture low light. The lower the ISO value of your camera, that is typically 100 for most, the better and higher is the image quality. If you are looking to shoot night landscape, you will have to begin with ISO 1600 and will be working with an ISO between 1200 and 3200. It is best to use the lowest possible ISO and make use of the wider aperture.

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