My Landscape Photographic Workflow

There are only seven days left in 2016 signaling the start of another Project 365. As mention in my posting Getting ready for Project 365 (2017), my goal for this project is to concentrate only on Nature photography. Nature photography covers a wide range of photography taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants, and close-ups of natural scenes and textures.

I also mention that I need to improve on learning more about what my lenses see. By understand what my different lenses see I will be able to integrate the lens’ vision with my mind’s creativity.

So for the first 4 weeks I will be concentrating on my lenses and landscape photography. I already addressed the lens part in my posting “Normal Field of View“. Today’s posting is about my Landscape Photographic Workflow to help me choose the correct exposure, sharpness, DOF and
focus.

What makes it special?

Whenever I come across a scene that appeals to me I ask myself the question – what makes it special? The picture should tell a story. This does not necessarily mean producing a sequence of frames, but rather exploring the situation in enough depth to be able to extract the one or two definitive frames that capture the essence of the scene.

What shutter speed?

This mostly depends if anything is moving in this image and do I plan to use a tripod? With no movement and using a tripod I am not concerned about shutter speed. The next decision shifts to the depth of field (aperture). Do I want the image to be sharp from foreground to background? If so I will shot using the Aperture Priority Mode, selecting for starters f/11. If there is movement I will switch to Shutter Speed Priority.

Which white balance?

If it is a sunny day I set it to Sunny WB and forget about it until lighting conditions start getting bad. Since I always shoot RAW any color adjustments can be made in the post-process workflow.

What ISO?

For shots using a tripod and nothing moving I aim for best possible quality setting ISO at the camera’s base value (usually ISO 100). For other shots it depends on the shutter speed and aperture values.

What to focus on?

The Rule of Thirds is the most widely used photography composition technique in landscape photography because of its simplicity and ease of application. For me it is a no-brainer to produce compelling landscape images. I use it along with other photography composition techniques like Leading Lines, Diagonal Lines, Framing, and Patterns. Therefore I focus on something that is either along the line separating the bottom and middle third or the line separating the middle and top third..

Use a polarizer?

Definitely if the sun is hitting the scene at an angle to the camera’s point of view. The same is true for any clouds in the sky as a polarizer will soften the transition between the deep blue polarized sky on the left and the polarized sky nearer the sun.

Adjust exposure?

For me, I always use auto-bracketing when shooting landscapes for the three reasons – the camera’s display/view finder is not accurate, not having enough time to fine-tune exposure in the field, and the camera not having enough dynamic range to capture a whole scene as I see it most of the time.

I check each of the 3 bracketed shoot’s histogram to make sure one of them is right on. It is rare that I have to adjust the exposure by either dialing in less or more exposure compensation.

Shoot, check and wrap it!

At this point I fine-tuned the composition, time to shoot some frames, and check for focus, depth of field and exposure before calling it a wrap!

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