“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. “
Why are you passionate about landscape photography?
I am passionate about landscape photography for many reasons. The first of which is that being out in nature is both calming and energizing for me. I love to watch the way the light changes from sunrise to sunset and highlights the beauty of our world in different ways. Getting out in the fresh air is calming and therapeutic and there is something about watching Mother Nature at work that puts things in perspective. It is thrilling to come away from a landscape shooting having captured images which hold the beauty and magic of that one moment in time.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked this topic?
I have always loved nature and beautiful landscapes. After I’d been learning photography seriously for about 8 months, I flew out to Jackson Hole for a fall weekend, specifically for hiking and photography. Having been traveling to Jackson Hole to visit my grandparents since I was a tiny girl, the Tetons have my heart. Capturing this area that weekend had me completely hooked. This area is still my favorite to shoot, but I have come to love shooting landscapes anywhere and everywhere.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve great landscape photography?
1) Shoot in RAW: Many scenes have bright highlights and dark shadows, making it challenging, or impossible for the camera to capture the entire dynamic range. Shooting in RAW gives you far more flexibility to alter the exposure, as well as the color tones in an image.
2) Use a Tripod: A tripod is one of your best friends in landscape photography. In certain situations, such as shooting long exposures, a tripod is a necessity. In any situation, a tripod will aid the stabilization of your camera and remove camera shake. It also allows you to take identically framed shots when utilizing bracketing for multiple exposures.
3) Watch Your Horizon: While there are always exceptions to every rule, composition tends to be stronger when the horizon is not positioned in the center of the frame. Look to place the horizon along the upper or lower line of the Rule of Thirds.
4) Light is Everything: “In the right light, everything is extraordinary”. An image of a scene shot in bright midday sun with a clear blue sky will have a completely different impact than one shot with an incredibly colorful sunset or a sky with storm clouds rolling in. Always observe your light and your sky to make the most of a scene. Light that may create less impactful images of one type of scene are good for others. For example, overcast skies are not ideal for an expansive scene but work well for long exposures of waterfalls.
5) Look for foreground interest: There are many ways to create depth in landscape images. One simple way is to look for some foreground interest. This may be trees, rocks, flowers, a building that adds interest, etc. The more layers in the image, the more depth it will have, creating a feeling for the viewer that they can step right into the scene.
6) Vary Your Perspective: Don’t just stay in one spot. Move your tripod around, move it up and down, take your camera off and lay on the ground, and vary your focal length if you have more than one. Although changing light can give you various images from one spot over a couple hours, moving around will give you a variety of unique shots from one location and you may just find your favorite is the one you least expected.
7) Expect the Unexpected: I have learned to have few expectations when I head out on a shoot. The sky and light is ever-changing and rarely predictable. Some places have more variable weather than others, but I have learned that when in doubt, go out and be adaptable to the scene in front of me. Sometimes the weather doesn’t work in my favor, but I have found it is a rare day that I don’t come home with an image, or images, I’m happy with, even if it is not the image I had hoped for.
About the photographer:
Kristen Ryan is a fine art photographer specializing in lifestyle and landscape photography. Living in the Chicago suburbs with her husband and 4 young children, her everyday finds her striving to freeze the moments of her young ones’ childhood in an artistic way. Her love of nature and the outdoors fuel her passion for landscape photography. She teaches the landscape photography workshop, “The World Around You” for Click Photo School on the Clickinmoms forum.