One of the questions I ask myself most often about my landscapes is: "What settings did you use?" Novice photographers often have the impression that there is a magic combination of aperture, shutter speed and ISO this will make their pictures amazing. While there is much more than that, understanding which settings to use makes it easy to take pictures that match your vision. Let's dig in it.
What equipment do you need for landscape photos
Landscape photography is incredibly accessible. All you need is a camera, a lens and a landscape for your subject. Most landscape photographers prefer a wide angle lens because it allows you to better show the extent of the landscapes you are photographing.
The good news is that the 18-55mm kit lens included with most DSLR cameras is quite wide in the range of focal lengths it works really well. This equates to about 28 mm on a full frame camera. If you are really interested in landscape photography, you can invest in a larger goal, but at least to begin with, any standard lens will fit.
That said, you can even take pictures of landscapes with long telephoto lenses. They will look different, but that does not mean they are not great.
When taking landscapes, you often work in the twilight of dawn or dusk with narrow openings. This means that, as we will see in a moment, you can use a slower shutter speed than you can use with your handheld without getting blurry photos. Your first purchase if you enter landscape photography should be a good stable tripod. This will open a wide range of shots that you might not otherwise take.
There are many other smaller accessories for landscape photography, such as remote triggers and neutral density filters You may want to investigate as you get better, but you probably do not need it when you're just starting out.
Aperture for Landscapes
As with the lenses, there are not as many strict rules for camera settings as there are in other areas of photography, such as portraiture. The are circumstances where just about all openings will be appropriate. In general, however, with landscape photography, you try to maximize the depth of field and acuityand that means working in a very specific opening range.
Most of the time, when shooting in landscape mode and using a tripod, you should use an aperture of about 16 f / 16. In most cases, this creates a good balance between depth of field and sharpness . Almost everything in an image you take at f / 16 will be sharp.
This does not mean that you can only use f / 16. The f / 11 and even the f / 8 both offer deep depth of field with wide-angle lenses while letting in more light, which allows you to to use a faster shutter speed. This is important if you hold your camera in your hand or if you do not want things to move in the frame.
Shutter speed for landscapes
In landscape photography, the shutter speed determines the appearance of moving objects. If you use a tripod, you can increase your shutter speed far beyond what you could use with your handheld. This allows you to creatively scramble water, people and anything that moves in a static landscape.
If you do not use a tripod, then you are limited by the rule of reciprocity: you must use a shutter speed of less than 1 /[the full frame equivalent focal length of your lens]. For example, if you use a 18mm lens on a crop sensor camera, use a shutter speed of at least 1 / 30th of a second (frame factor 18 x 1.5 = 27; see our guide on sensor size).
If you use a tripod, the only limit is light. In daylight, you will not be able to use ultra-long shutter speeds without the neutral density filters mentioned above.
My ideal working range for landscapes when I use a tripod and do not try to do long creative exhibitions is between about 1 / 10th of a second and 3 seconds. At f / 16 and ISO 100, these are the values you will normally need to use. for a good exposure around sunrise or sunset.
ISO for landscapes
ISO selection rarely comes into play in landscape photography unless you do not have a tripod or shoot the night. If you have a tripod, the best thing to do is simply set your camera to ISO 100 and use longer shutter speeds if you need brighter pictures.
Landscape photography is quite flexible with regard to the settings of the camera you are using. However, it is advisable to use a tripod, a shutter speed between 1 / 10th of a second and three seconds, an aperture between f / 11 and f / 16 and an ISO sensitivity of 100. This are the settings I have in my head every time I start configuring my camera.