In a city populated with high-rise buildings like Singapore, many yearn for the expanse of landscapes. We pin stunning images of landscapes on our office cubicles, calendars, and even choose to set them as wallpapers on our digital screens in an attempt to experience a trace of its wonder.
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Capturing landscape images presents certain challenges since this tends to be an unfamiliar subject for most photographers. If you wish to attempt landscape photography, we have consolidated some tips below that can help you get started!
Choosing a camera
There has never been a better time to explore photography, given how accessible technology has become. You have probably captured landscape images when travelling with either a smartphone or a compact point-and-shoot. While these may be great choices, the quality of images pales in comparison to a full-frame DSLR camera especially when blown up in size. Perhaps, it is time for you to consider investing in a new camera!
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There are many factors to consider when choosing a camera. This is largely dependent on the type of photography one does. Action photographers may prioritise AF speed and accuracy while urban cityscape hunters appreciate a high-ISO image quality. In the case of the landscape photographer, it is best to look for high resolution, dynamic range and sensor size.
The dynamic range is a critical factor for outdoor scenes where high contrast is often present. A wide dynamic range gives you good quality images in both highlights and darker areas. This is vital as there is the risk of losing information in underexposed or overexposed areas of an image when dramatic lighting is incorporated.
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To create eye-catching landscape images, the camera must be able to capture finer details and this is where high pixels matter. In terms of sensor sizes, we recommend starting with the Canon EOS 750D. It features a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and includes features like a tilting monitor with live view for accurate focusing.
Another camera to consider is our newest Canon EOS M50 – a small mirrorless with the same 24.2-megapixel spec, but with amazing Dual Pixel autofocus. It uses the latest DIGIC 8 processor and has touch-centric controls which makes it perfect for those who are used to shooting with their smartphones.
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For a full-frame experience, look no further than the Canon EOS 5DS R. It has a whopping 50.6-megapixel CMOS sensor that looks even sharper with the low-pass filter incorporated within the gear. A full-frame camera has no crop factor and this allows you to capture the vast landscape before you in all its glory. Due to the better signal-to-noise and performances at all ISOs, viewers might even feel a sense of presence in the scene simply by looking at the images.
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Choosing your lens
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A wide-angle lens is an absolute essential in landscape photography. The Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM is our recommended wide angle lens for landscapes. Its wide angle view takes in the vast scene and this makes it ideal for photographing the night sky. The design of this lens also makes it highly suitable for dealing with unexpected harsh weather conditions. For instance, it consists of elements such as an enhanced fluorine coating that helps to reduce fingerprints and to repel water easily.
A more affordable lens option that we recommend is the Canon EF-24-105mm f/4 IS II USM. Its large focal length range makes it especially valuable for shooting a variety of compositions and situations, even for capturing images in tight places.
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Choosing your subject
Aside from gear, it is also important to decide on a specific subject that you would like to shoot. Mother nature has granted us with plenty of subjects that range from mountains and forests to caves and snow.
A common misconception is that landscape photography is impossible in Singapore. In fact, the best place to start practising is on home ground! Some great local spots include Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Pulau Ubin, or any of the major reservoirs. This allows for plenty of experimental trips where you get used to shooting outdoors and dealing with unexpected weather conditions.
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After you become well-acquainted with shooting landscapes in Singapore, incorporate your next landscape shoot in your future travel plan. Before heading to your destination, be sure to do ample research. Google for specific spots that you can visit and browse for image references online. A little planning goes a long way and can help smooth your shooting experience. From Iceland and New Zealand to Egypt and Africa, the world is yours to explore!
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Choosing the right composition
It’s easy to be so awed by the scenery that we forget that a focus still makes for a good picture. Be sure to figure out the central subject for your photo and to make it the main feature. Spend some time to compose your shots, particularly in finding a more interesting point of view to shoot from.
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Another tip is to play with the environment and perspective. Explore and walk around the location. Crouch and climb if necessary. You may discover surprising angles that will give an extra edge to your image. Look for interesting features to frame your picture, and introduce multiple layers of interest to create a more fascinating shot.
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Be sure to take note of elements from the foreground to the background and make sure that they tell a cohesive story. Always remember to give a good sense of the scale with additional objects in the frame, such as an animal, tree or person. The addition of these objects helps to emphasize the grandness of the landscape.
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Let there be light
The magic hour rules apply to landscape photography as well. Be sure to check how long light lasts when you are overseas, as it may differ from place to place. For instance, Iceland might be a great place to shoot at during winter but you only get four to five hours of light in a day!
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Aim to shoot before sunrise and after sunset to give yourself more time to set-up and experiment. You may feel free to use the mid-day to explore and recce for interesting spots. If rain or snow occurs, shield yourself but continue to adjust your shots for proper exposure and to get dramatic scenes.
Filters are arguably a landscape photographer’s best friend. Neutral Density (ND) filters and Polarising filters help to bring a scene to life. It’s common for an image with great potential to be overexposed or underexposed and this is where filters come to play.
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When shooting bodies of water, sunlight may get thrown in unwanted directions. A polarizer helps to reduce that effect significantly while brightening the blues and greens at the same time. On the other hand, ND filters help you deal with areas that are too bright, such as an open sky with a dark forest in the foreground. These graduated filters can make a great difference to a scene.
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Get started on landscape photography by getting the best megapixel camera you can afford. Pair it with a good wide-angle lens and some filters. Above all, practice plenty of patience and curious exploring to create those awesome landscape shots. If you’ve put these to the test would like to share some breath-taking landscape pictures, remember to tag us at #CanonSG!
First published: Canon EOS World