Summer Landscape Photography Tips....

06th August 2014
We've had a pretty good summer so far for landscape photography workshops in the Lake District. We've enjoyed a couple of sweltering weeks but this brings it's own challenges to Landscape photography in the Lake District and elsewhere - e.g. Strong direct sunlight, cloudless blue skies, reflection off foiliage, flat landscapes etc (not to mention very early starts!) So we've pulled some tips together to help you make the most of the conditions - while they last! (2014 is an 'El Nino' year - the last one was 2009/10 when we had the coldest winter and most snowfall in years - landscape photographers will have fingers crossed for this winter!)

Think Seascapes / Beach
Whilst more dramatic during winter storms, summertime along the coast is a more forgiving time for Landscape photography. Ideally, get to the beach around high tide or just after - this means you won't have to walk miles to include the sea in your shot and the sand won't be churned up or covered with sunbathers! As the tide recedes, a single set of footprints in pristine sand with a setting/rising sun makes a great shot.

Check out the tide times on the go with the 'Marine Weather App' by accuweather or plan on-line beforehand in conjunction with thinking about sunrise and sunset times.
Wide-angle lenses are great for those expansive, big space shots while a telephoto lens is good for isolating a scene.

Just remember that even in benign conditions, the seaside is a harsh environment for your camera gear - be vigilant about keeping sand and sun cream well away. Take your air blower to carefully remove any grains that land on your camera before changing lenses / opening compartments. Wipe your kit when you get home with a damp cloth to remove any sea salt and rinse your tripod in fresh water if you've been in the surf.

Summer flare
We normally try to avoid camera flare but it can be used deliberately in Landscape Photography to enhance the sense of summer sunshine. So, experiment with some shots that include sun flare - using wide angle lenses makes it easier to do this.

Try shots where the sun is just at the side of your frame, or fully include it and compare results. Using a smaller aperture (higher f-stop number) will produce a more defined rendition of the sun than a large aperture (where the sun can look like an unsightly blob!)

Use a polarising filter
Polarisers help cut out reflections and boost saturation - this can really enhance your landscape photography images during bright sunshine. They help deepen blue skies and make colours look much more vibrant. Polarisers work best when the subject is at 90 degrees to sun, so think about keeping the sun over your shoulder for best results.

Polarising filters absorb 1.5 stops of light, meaning shutter speeds will be relatively slower (although if you're in bright sunshine, this shouldn't be too problematic).

Think silhouettes
On your summer hols, there's nothing nicer than watching a setting sun on the beach with those lovely warm colours. A low sun can be great for landscape photography images, but subjects between you and the sun will turn into a dark silhouette lacking shape and texture.

Use this to your advantage and purposefully take silhouettes to convey drama and mystery in your images. You need a strong, recognisable shape such as trees and people in interesting poses. Just position the subject between you and the sun. Use a Meter reading from the background (not the immediate subject itself) to create the silhouette effect.

No time for Golden hours?
The best time to photograph landscapes is the hour around sunrise and sunset. Unfortunately, this can be very late or very early (at mid-summer in the Shetlands, sunrise is 03:29am and sunset 22.41pm!). So, if you have to rule out the golden hours, how do you make the most of a scene when the suns high in the sky?

Firstly, a lens hood can help prevent the sun getting into your lens and causing flare (unless you want flare - see above). In combination, try to have the sun positioned behind you when you're shooting. This will help improve contrast and prevent the washed out look that can otherwise happen.

As mentioned above, using a polarising filter is helpful, particularly during summertime, do don't leave home without it.

If you want to take portrait shots, get your subject into some shade - squinting and hard shadows on someone's face caused by a sunhat isn't going to produce a good result. This might be a parosel / umbrella or the shade of a building.

I suppose the main thing is not to write off the whole of summer - with a bit of work, you can get some great results. If you want to learn more about our Landscape Photography workshops and courses, check out our Workshops page.

Good luck!


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