Landscape Photography & Walking Holidays

 

Whether you're out walking in your local area or you're enjoying one of our independent or guided walking holidays, capturing the wonderful landscape you see before you in a photograph can prove problematic, especially if the weather is poor. So here are a few top tips for improving your holiday snaps.

General tips for taking landscape photography

Depth of Field 

Unless being more experimental or creative, you normally want as much of your picture in focus as possible. You can do this by choosing a small aperture setting; the smaller your aperture the greater the depth of field.  However, the smaller the aperture means you will need to compensate by increasing your ISO setting or lengthening your shutter speed.

Using a Tripod 

With a longer shutter speed compensating for a smaller aperture you will need to ensure your camera is as still as possible. You can also use a cable or wireless shutter release mechanism for additional camera steadiness.

A Focal Point

All photographs require some focal point to them and landscapes can often look empty without them. Examples of focal points could range from a building to a tree, people or rock formation.

The Foreground

Items or points of interest in the foreground can give depth to a photograph.

The Sky

Most landscapes have a dominant foreground or sky. Therefore if you have a fairly bland sky, place the horizon in the upper third of your shot and conversely if the sky is filled with interesting cloud formations and colours place the horizon lower in the shot

The Weather

Don’t just wait for a sunny blue sky day to venture out, look for storms, mist, sun shining through dark skies, sunsets and sunrises and work with these changes in the weather. So don’t be put off by an overcast day.

Dawn and Dusk

Around dawn and dusk the quality of light can make landscapes come alive. The angle of the light can create interesting patterns and textures.

The Horizon

Check that your horizon is straight and positioned on one of the thirds lines in an image rather than in the middle.

Point of View 

Explore the environment and experiment with different viewpoints.  This could mean getting down onto the ground to shoot from down low or finding a higher vantage point to shoot from.

Walking and Photography

The Weather

Wherever you are walking, particularly in the UK, the weather can change suddenly. So good waterproof boots, offering adequate ankle support, suitable clothing and waterproofs are vital. As a photographer, you are more likely to spend time standing about rather than constantly walking, so you'll be generating less body heat. Remember your extremities, with hats and gloves, and on hot days, remember the sun block – even under light cloud. This is especially so on our walking holidays in France, where the sun index is much higher than in England. See our article on protecting yourself from the sun. We always provide our customers on our guided and independent walking tours with a kit list. See also our top tips walking article on being prepared. If the forecast is particularly bad or extreme, stay off the high hills or mountains – apart from endangering yourself, you are unlikely to get the best shots.

Walking Distance

Be realistic in terms of distance you will cover on your walk; if you see photo opportunities every few feet, you'll struggle to get round your walk by nightfall. You may be capable of a 10 mile walk in the hills, but try the same as a photographer.  Also bear in mind the distance you are walking when considering how much equipment to take with you.

Carrying Gear

Make sure your rucksack has additional storage space over and above your camera kit. If you're doing a full day hiking or trekking, you will need to include food and plenty of drink. Dehydration is one of the major problems encountered by walkers. Find space for an energy boost treat, like the famous Kendal mint cake.
You can supplement your rucksack with a photo vest or photo jacket with large pockets which can be used to carry items such as filters and memory cards.  This means you're not having to open your rucksack to get at smaller items.
Remember, only take what you need for each walk and only take what can reasonably be carried.

Photographic Equipment

The kit you carry will always be personal to you, but you may want to consider carrying a range of lenses as wide-angles are good for sweeping landscapes with interesting foregrounds, with longer lenses isolating elements within the landscape and compressing perspective.
You may consider a set of filters and a polarizer, spare memory cards and batteries.  
If you’re taking a tripod, it’s worth considering a carbon fibre tripod, as they're lighter and warmer to the touch on cold days. A remote release is also useful. Other items to consider would include, for example, a lens cloth. 

Importantly, try to keep the weight sensible, as gear will always seems to weigh more at the end of the day than at the start. Remember, if you are walking alone in the hills, let someone know where you are going and when you should be back.

Travel Photography

If you are just looking to take more interesting shots than the usual point and click snaps on your walking holiday, whether it's in France or in Scotland, you need to keep in mind that more than you should enjoy looking at them. Firstly, learn the basics by trying to get flattering photographs of the scenes in front of you by learning how to record the light at its best. Then, try to capture unique viewpoints and perspectives; moments in time only captured by you.  Try to avoid clichés; a sunset with nothing else in it is quite boring. Have a look at as many shots from the area that you are visiting, before you leave. That way, you will see what shots have been done again and again.

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