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Every season has something to offer landscape photographers and summer is no exception. There is an abundance of subjects during summer in the UK, from grand scenes and seascapes to abstract details and everything in between. The weather is usually better, days are warmer and evenings are perfect for capturing sunsets, but there are some considerations for landscape photographers, even during this idyllic time of year.
If you want to get out and capture beautiful sunrises or sunsets, you’ll discover some useful summer landscape photography tips in this guide, as well as gear suggestions to help you capture gorgeous landscapes to impress your audience, build your portfolio and maybe even to print and hang on your walls.
Example 1 (June) with Sony A7R III and Sony FE 24-70mm F/2.8 GM at 60mm. Camera settings: 1/10. f/8. ISO 100 (tripod mounted)
Being well prepared can give you a much better chance of nailing a gorgeous landscape shot, but what does being prepared mean for landscape photographers?
Example 2 (June) with Sony A7R III and Sony FE 24-70mm F/2.8 GM at 70mm. Camera settings: 1/20. f/8. ISO 100 (tripod mounted)
There are no rules as to what you can shoot during summer. Perhaps the most important thing is to choose locations which inspire you to capture something which you want to share. If you’re inspired by a place or scene you’re more likely to come away with an engaging shot. Some of the most popular landscape subjects include:
Using a filter system from LEE Filters using two filters: a LEE100 0.6 ND Grad Soft Filter to balance the brighter sky and a 5-stop Lee100 Little Stopper to achieve a long exposure and smooth the water.
Learning how to use lens filters to elevate your images is a must for aspiring landscape photographers. While you won’t need a filter for every shot, knowing when to use one and how to use filters is really useful to take your photos to the next-level.
There are two type of filters which are most widely used in landscape photography, starting with a circular polariser, which also goes by ‘CPL’ or simply ‘polariser’. Polarisers are used for a number of reasons including:
It’s possible to over-use a polariser, so you may want to take different shots with different levels of polarisation in case you change your mind after a shot. For example you might remove all of the reflections from a stream, but find that 50% polarisation looks better for the wet rocks. Similarly when using an ultra-wide angle lens you can sometimes notice polarisation effects in blue skies, so always check your image on the back of the camera before moving on.
There are two or three different types of circular polariser to consider for your kit. The easiest to control is a standalone CPL filter, which has a single thread size. These are available from all leading filter manufactures and can be purchased to fit directly onto each lens you have by choosing the appropriate mm thread such as 77mm.
If you use a square filter kit from LEE Filters or Cokin you can get a polariser which fits into the square filter holder system. This is convenient and easy for switching between lenses.
You can also get combination filters with both polarisation and ND in-one from H&Y. These are great for landscapes and any subject with water in particular.
This brings us neatly onto ND filters or neutral density, which are widely used by landscape photographers. There are several types of ND filter, which are all employed in different ways. What they have in common is all NDs reduce the amount of light entering the lens in some way.
A landscape filter kit provides essential filters to get started in a single kit, such as a Cokin Z-PRO Nuances Extreme Full ND KIT, Cokin NX Long Exposure Kit or LEE100 Filter System Deluxe Kit. Don’t forget to add adaptor rings to fit the square systems onto your lens threads.
Example 3 (July) with Nikon D800 and Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm F/2.8G ED at 16mm. Camera settings: 2 sec. f/8. ISO 100 (tripod mounted)
You’ve no doubt heard that golden hour presents the best light for outdoor photography and while this is true, there’s nothing to stop you shooting at any time of day. You get to make the rules for your photography!
In the northern hemisphere the sun rises and sets more quickly during summer and golden hour can last just a few minutes, rather than the languid winter affair, which can last for a couple of hours. This can mean getting out of bed in the middle of the night in order to get to your location by 4am, and is one of the reasons landscape photographers aspire to Van Life. If you start the day at your location you can get a lie-in to perhaps 4am, which is always welcome! If you choose to shoot outside of golden hour you’ll see more contrast in your images, which can be tricky to handle without ruining an exposure with dark shadows or blown-out highlights. Look to expose for the highlights to avoid blowing out your image. You may find you’re capturing more silhouettes in contrasty light, which can show the mood of a scene beautifully, adding some mystery or drama.
Mornings do present a few advantages for landscape photographers over sunsets, which can make them worth getting out of bed for:
The haze which we see in the atmosphere during summer can be a double edged sword, as it removes contrast and makes it harder show hard lines in your shots. On the other hand it also creates lovely atmospheric scenes and adds mood, which may be absent at other times.
Summer is a great time to be out shooting landscapes and can yield great results while out enjoying warmer and drier days in nature. Remember to pack sunscreen, insect repellant and some sarnies and share your images with us at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Look out for our photo competitions to win goodies with your photos too.
By Nick Dautlich on 18/06/2022
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