Summer vacations provide plenty of possibilities for photographing scenery. The first step is most obvious. Carry your camera and tripod with you at all times. Be ready to seize opportunities and preserve perfect moments from your trip.
Locations for Photographing Scenery
While I was traveling the upper peninsula in Michigan, I came across Copper Harbor Lighthouse on Lake Superior located in Fort Wilkins Historic State Park . The drive up Keweenaw Peninsula was long and daunting. I knew I wouldn’t make that trip again. I was so glad to have my camera handy for that historic landmark.
Use a tripod and a narrow aperture to capture fine details of your landscape. The larger your f-stop (e.g. f/22) the smaller your aperture will be, allowing less light to enter the camera. My recommendation is a minimum of f/11 with ISO 100 for the least amount of noise. If you find yourself in a situation where using a tripod isn’t possible, try increasing ISO to 400 or more. This will reduce camera shake for hand held shots. Adjust f-stop and ISO settings based on your desired result and available light.
For my shot of the Botanical Gardens at Cornell Plantation in Ithaca NY, there was plenty of daylight so I used f/10 with ISO 200 for this hand held shot.
Walk around cities and towns to photograph events, tourist attractions, landmarks, and historic sites. Look for leading lines in architecture such as sidewalks, bridges, street lights or roof tops. Use them in photographs to draw your viewers in. Visit a welcome center or visitors bureau and pick up maps for a scenic drive. Drive during early morning or evening hours when the sun is low in the sky to capture even lighting in your photographs. When photographing scenery, early and late hours are also the best hours for viewing wildlife. Capturing unexpected wildlife may provide the ideal center of interest for scenic pictures.
While walking along the riverwalk in Binghamton NY, I composed this shot by using street lamps and the sidewalk for my leading lines, then included the Chenango River landmark sign as my point of interest.
Ideas for Scenic Photography
Need ideas for locations to visit and photograph? Pick up a copy of “Off the Beaten Path“, a travel guide to more than 1,000 scenic and interesting places still uncrowded and inviting. This guide spotlights the United States most overlooked, must see destinations.
Take up hiking, visit local parks, state forests, and other natural areas. Join clubs, hiking clubs and naturalists groups take frequent field trips to observe nature. You may discover new locations for photography close to home by participating with one of these groups.
Landscapes are constantly changing, weather, light, seasons, plants and trees change every day. Scout areas close to home. Visit the same locations multiple times during different hours each day. You might be surprised by what you find. Look for water, ponds, lakes, and creeks. Reflections of scenery on water makes interesting photographs. Keep in mind the rule of thirds when composing your shots.
While hiking the trails at Chenango Valley State Park in New York State, I wanted to keep my foreground and background in focus, so I used my tripod, f/29, and ISO 100 to compose a very peaceful sunrise with fog on Chenango Lake.
Don’t overlook your own front or back yard. Whether you live in the city or a rural area try photographing scenery you love. Knowing your subject well will produce the best result. Flower gardens, a front porch with swing, flowering trees, or tree lined streets, country fields, farmlands and forests. Whatever makes your heart sing, your passion will show through your photographs.
I’m blessed to have a scenic view of the woods from our home. I also have the pleasure of viewing a variety of wildlife throughout the seasons. Beyond the trees there’s a pond in the woods where a tree house is located. It reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond. An early morning sunrise surprised me one day when I looked out my window to find beautiful rays of sunlight dancing through the trees just a short distance from our house. This scenic sunrise lasted about 30 minutes giving me plenty of time to set up my camera and tripod.
Consider photographing your favorite landscape during different seasons. Spring scenery provides the perfect opportunity to photograph many shades of green and pastels from fresh flowers while everything is still new and unblemished. Summer is a great time to photograph scenery of botanical gardens, dramatic sunsets, and sunrises. With longer hours of daylight during summer months, you have plenty of time to compose a variety of compositions and angles. Fall scenery is all about color. Bright sunlight reflects light off leaves and reduces vibrancy, but photographing fall foliage on a partly cloudy or overcast day will make those fall colors pop.
A country road I frequently travel took my breath away one fall day when I happened to drive through this colorful tunnel of trees, right at the moment when lighting was perfect.
Winter scenery is best photographed right after it snows. Here’s some tips for taking photographs of landscapes in the snow. Using program mode on your camera for winter photography will produce ‘gray’ snow. To correct this you can add at least 1/3 to 2 stops more depending upon light, shoot in manual mode, adjust exposure/brightness in camera, or during post processing. Bright snow reflects light, try not to overexpose. Use “highlights” on playback to preview your shots. Overexposed areas will blink white.
It’s all about light. To create gorgeous night photos visit bluehoursite.com to find out the best time for taking beautiful blue hour pictures. “Blue hour” refers to the time just after the sun goes down and the sky is deep blue for a while. This is an excellent time to capture scenic photos.