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Focal lengths for landcape.

Discussion in 'Nature' started by RidgeRunner22, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. RidgeRunner22

    RidgeRunner22 SC Regular

    65
    May 31, 2013
    Jackson, WY
    Sam
    As a real novice, with an interest in light landscape(as in i dont want to carry a tripod). I was wondering if some of the members could provide some basic strategies.
    Advice such a preferred focal lengths, shutter speeds, and WB would be greatly appreciated.

    I feel like i cant get the sence of scale or mood most of the time...here is an example.

    10629766726_1d23149d56_c.
     
  2. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Hi Sam,

    I tend to use my Sigma Merrills for landscape work these days (though not exclusively) and am more often than not reaching for the DP1M rather than the DP2M. The DP1M has a focal length of 28mm in terms of 35mm film stock, so a relatively wide angle, say 28mm to 40mm. I'm guessing your mountain image was taken at a longer focal length than that, so you would loose some of the distant detail and gain in angle of view to emphasis the wide open mood of the landscape in front of you. For WB I tend to leave my camera set on cloudy, but then I shoot in raw so could make any slight adjustments afterwards, although I rarely find I need to. Then again I shoot in an area that often has cloudy conditions, in your mountain air you find the need to adjust the white balance setting to suit.

    I do tend to use a tripod and set the camera up, using the rear LCD as you would the ground glass screen on a view camera, so that I frame the shot to my satisfaction, so I'll refrain from commenting on shutter speeds, all down to what you can get away with in practice given your camera, ability to hold it steady and smoothly operate the shutter release. In my case being tripod mounted I also use a remote cable release. These days I tend to focus on infinity for such distant shots. There was a time in my roll film days when I religiously used a hyperfocal setting, but that seems to be open to question by some in this digital day and age.

    Barrie
     
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  3. biglouis

    biglouis SC Veteran

    401
    Aug 4, 2013
    I don't know if there are strictly any rules - except I agree with Barrie - use a DPxM camera and you'll never look back :)

    I would also say that in your photograph I think you would have done better composing it 50/50 rather than what seems to me in thirds because the sky is actually not that interesting. It might have been better to see more foreground so your eye is drawn to the peak in the distance.

    Personally, I use focal lengths in the following way.

    I use wide angle between 14-21mm to bring an emphasis to the foreground and have strong depth of field all the way through to the background.

    GH-2 with 7-14, 9mm at f11 (about 18mm equivalent at 35mm)
    7836457470_dd425a32b9_b_d.

    Mainly I use 35 or 50mm to get a balanced view of vista

    Hasselblad 500 80/2.8 planar f11 (about 50mm equivalent at 35mm)
    8445778594_129f9961b0_b_d.

    And occasionally I use longer focal lengths when I want to compress the depth of field.

    GH-2, 100-300 at 108mm (216mm equivalent at 35mm)
    9675479074_7801c56f53_b_d.

    Personally, I do not think one focal length suits all purposes and I would definitely recommend starting with a 35-50mm lens - although if you do want to concentrated on mountain views like this one a longer focal length might actually be better, imho.

    LouisB
     
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  4. Michael T

    Michael T SC Top Veteran

    512
    Jul 31, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Michael
    My landscape hero Galen Rowell, famous for travelling light in the wilds said, f8 and be there; pretty good advice. Back in the days of film it was almost essential to use a tripod for landscapes, as good color film was slow and small apertures were required to get decent DOF. Today’s excellent image stabilized small sensor cams with increased dynamic range make it possible to get incredible landscape shots without carrying 20 lbs. of gear.
    For me the key is finding a good focal point for the image, usually in the foreground, so most of my landscapes are generally shot with wide-angle lenses. Sometimes though I use a short telephoto to compress the foreground and background.

    PB110042-L.
     
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  5. RidgeRunner22

    RidgeRunner22 SC Regular

    65
    May 31, 2013
    Jackson, WY
    Sam
    Thanks to everyone for advice! Unfortunately I don't own a a sigma compact, though id love to try one out, the IQ seems to be quite good. The larget sensor I own is in my rx100.

    Which bring me to a question with regards to aperature. I have heard the reference to f8 before, and I wonder if this is true even for smaller sensors? in other words i can achieve a similar depth of focus with the smaller 1inch sensor; is this what constitutes an "optimum aperture" or is there more to it than that?
     
  6. Michael T

    Michael T SC Top Veteran

    512
    Jul 31, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Michael
    You're right Sam, I think for the small sensors we need to change the saying to: f5.4 and be there:smile:
     
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  7. RidgeRunner22

    RidgeRunner22 SC Regular

    65
    May 31, 2013
    Jackson, WY
    Sam
    Thanks again, i think i am going to pick up one of Galen Rowells books, thanks for enlightening me to his work!
     
  8. grebeman

    grebeman Old Codgers Group

    Jul 13, 2010
    South Brent, south Devon (UK)
    Barrie
    Sam,

    Having been on this site for some time I can recall some posts using small sensor cameras which demonstrate just what they can be capable off, here's one such post https://www.photographerslounge.org/showthread.php?t=798 I would suggest you seek out others by this user, they certainly showed that you don't need a Sigma Merrill to do some good work.

    Barrie
     
  9. biglouis

    biglouis SC Veteran

    401
    Aug 4, 2013
    ^^^^ good advice from Barrie ^^^^

    You can take a lot of fine pictures with the RX100 mainly because given its size and virtuosity you'll have it with you when it matters. The thing to do is to work out the optimum composition that fits within its limitations. You'll discover that eventually.

    Although I like the luxury of having several cameras to choose from, if worse came to the worse, I'd survive on one only.

    LouisB
     
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  10. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    You mentioned sense of scale; an often used trick is to have an object of known size - a human, a tree, a chair, anything instantly recognizable can be used - in the frame, so that the viewer can estimate the scale of the rest of the scene. This object is often but not necessarily placed in the foreground. Making the object highly visible immediately tells the viewer the scale of the scene, while hiding the object so that it isn't immediately obvious can help you surprise the viewer once he does figure out the scale, and thus make the image more imntereeting and memorable.
     
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  11. Nuskyn

    Nuskyn SC Veteran

    387
    Jul 8, 2011
    @Gelderland - the Netherlands
    Jeroen
    It isn't always possible to "be there" so take a camera everywhere you go...
     
  12. EasyEd

    EasyEd SC Regular

    143
    Dec 22, 2010
    Hey All,

    Well first you are from Jackson, WY - put the Moulton barn in the foreground and you got er made! :rolleyes:

    Failing that - scale (meaning depth I assume) comes from creating distance through a foreground element and the background.

    Mood is much harder because how much is you and how much is what is in front of you? If you think about mood in photography it often comes from light and so light is a key.

    Looking at your photo there is no foreground element and it looks to not be a near sunrise or sunset or a weather related event. There is a reason why landscape photographers commonly get up at 3AM (it's called the fun of photography) to catch the first light and wear headlamps to find their way back after dark. Weather can often do what you want at any time of day - so when you most want to settle in front of a fireplace or TV head outdoors with your camera.

    Photography is not supposed to be easy. Suffering is half the fun of photography. The other half is trying to "rescue" what you have done in lightroom.

    OK so partially "tongue in cheek" but a lot of truth (as I see it) as well.

    -Ed-

    An add: I been thinking about who to have you study the photography of. I keep coming back to this woman in Scotland. In this day and age I think her compositions are immaculate. Notice the foreground background relationship. Notice the immensity of nature versus the smallness of man. Notice her use of light and weather. Her photography is so full of themes I am awestruck by how well she puts it all together. Not many photographers come close to this level in my opinion. Mostly just enjoy!

    http://www.photosecosse.com/
     
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  13. wushumr2

    wushumr2 New to SC

    7
    Dec 16, 2013
    I think if you cropped the photo down to the bottom left quadrant, you'd have a much stronger and compelling image. Just a thought.

     
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  14. CM_SK

    CM_SK SC Regular

    144
    Apr 23, 2013
    Saskatoon, SK, Canada
    I'm not against wide angle lenses for landscapes, and others here have provided good tips for their use, but I also find that often especially in the mountains, the scale of the mountains is lost because of the vast size of the field of view of WA lenses. My antidote is to try to (say, on alternate days hiking) use a long lens only, a long zoom or a quality longer prime, to force myself to "see" interesting subsets of the mountain landscape. Attached is an example…. the wide view was nice (great day, blue sky, etc) but the ability of my long lens (in this case shot at about 270mm FF equiv.) to frame this particular view made it just a bit more of a special image (of course IMO!). If I get it right, a piece of the mountain has much more impact than the whole mountain.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Mike Browne gives a nice simple explanation of various focal lengths here -

    [video=youtube;t3A3SnPFPk0]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3A3SnPFPk0&list=TLpFFYByIqfYVvAvS0Hxy757ym0elNEzDU[/video]
     
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