Much of successful landscape photography depends on having the right location, composition, and light, but photographer Mark Denney has shared 8 camera tips and hacks that can further enhance the shooting process and benefit photographers of all levels of experience.
#1. Bungee Support
A simple bungee cord, which can be purchased for around a couple of dollars, can be attached to the hook at the bottom of the tripod to weigh it down for a more stable and even support. Hanging a photography or hiking bag underneath will often mean the bag doesn’t reach the ground and can be susceptible to movement, which can add shake or disrupt the composition. A bungee cord, on the other hand, allows the bag to rest on the ground, ensuring that the tripod is anchored down and remains stable.
#2. Sea Legs
When shooting in water, Denney recommends extending the bottom portion of the tripod legs to be submerged, not the thicker top leg segments. This ensures the tripod joints avoid water and sand, which further extends the life of the tripod and causes fewer issues when it comes to cleaning it and removing any grit that may get stuck in the joints.
#3. Always Polarize
Although a polarizing filter might traditionally be only used for specific scenarios, such as when shooting moving water to remove reflections, it is a good idea to test out what the filter might do for different types of scenes, too. Denney now uses a polarizing filter on every shoot, even if it’s just to check how it affects the scene and whether it can benefit the final result, such as by removing light reflections from dry leaves and creating a more vibrant image.
#4. Shower Cap
To protect the camera from rain, a simple shower cap can be used. It is an affordable and space-saving addition to the photographer’s bag and it can help in situations where the camera needs to be quickly protected from rain damage.
#5. Vertical Telephoto Panorama
The compression effect that a long lens creates for a composition can be visually appealing for landscapes, although at the expense of the field of view which becomes more limited. To combat that issue, Denney recommends putting the camera in a vertical orientation and creating a sweeping panorama, from left to right, which still allows preserving the compressed look but adds a wider field of view in the composition.
#6. Dragging the Shutter
If a situation calls for creating motion blur in the image, such as in the water or in the sky, and the photographer has no access to a neutral density (ND) filter to help achieve that, ISO can be reduced, whilst stopping down the aperture. Doing so allows the opportunity to drag or slow down the shutter to add the motion blur to the scene.
#7. Stop Down Sunstar
To create a pleasing-looking sunstar, for example, appearing through the branches or leaves in the forest, it simply requires stopping down the aperture, such as, to f/32. Depending on the type of lens, the produced sunstar will vary in appearance.
#8. Hand Organizer
To make organizing panorama images easier, Denney simply takes a shot of his hand at the start and at the end of each panorama to make it easy to spot the start and finish of each sequence when importing and editing the images. The same approach can be applied for focus stacking to avoid wasting time during the post-processing stage and having to zoom into each image to see which image goes with each set.
Watch Denney’s 16-.5-minute video above for a closer look at how each of these hacks works.