Landscape photography is one of the most popular genres of photography. Most people who start out in photography begin by shooting landscapes. But it is not everyone’s cup of tea. As you advance in your journey as a photographer, you will find a particular style which matches your way of thinking and perceiving objects. Landscape photography is in itself a very broad branch. There are tons and tons of things to master to become a professional in this stream.
One of the most important aspects of this learning curve is, how to utilize your gear to its full potential and to do that you must have quality gear. Landscape photography is such a genre wherein a good quality tripod is a must. There is no replacement for this and without one, you will find yourself handicapped. So, bear with me for the next 5-10mins and I’ll give you some tips and then we will discuss some of the best tripods for landscape photography.
Landscape Photography – Tips you Need to Know
Landscape photographers are probably the only group of photographers who use their gear extensively after glamour photographers. They can be seen traveling with a box full of filters, multiple lenses, cards, big tripods and what not. Having said that, the artworks of master landscape photographer like Ansel Adams are truly mesmerizing and justify all the pains of carrying such a huge set of gear.
If you too are interested in shooting landscapes or you are doing so for a while now, I’m sure you will find these 5 tips useful.
1. Use the Natural Lights Fully – While shooting landscapes it is extremely important to make use of the natural lights properly. For example, the above picture is ok the golden hour, so in these kinds of situations, you must adjust your white balance and exposure in a way such that the highlights aren’t blown out. Whitebalance and exposure are the two major things to tweak whenever you are out in any kind of lighting, whether it is harsh of soft.
2. Keep Your Horizons Level – If you are shooting beaches or something where the horizon plays a major role in the composition, always make sure to keep the horizon perfectly level. Believe me, this would give your photos a touch of professionalism. Use the bubble level on your tripod for help.
3. Aperture Settings – One thing you must always make sure is that the depth of field is set to maximum, that means your aperture should be as small as possible. Keep it always in between f8-f16. This will make sure that the frame is sharp throughout the foreground and background.
4. Foreground or Background – Decide what you want to include in your frame. Remember this as a basic rule of landscape photography – Never Keep the horizon in the middle of the frame, except while shooting symmetrical objects like reflections in lakes, etc. Always the majority of the frame must comprise of foreground or background depending on what’s interesting.
5. Use Patterns, Shapes, Lines, etc – If you look around nature is full of patterns, shapes, and figures. Try to use them in your composition. These naturally occurring shapes add a lot of visual appeal in the frames. There is a term called leading lines, what this means is using these natural lines to direct a viewer right to the subject. This technique comes with practice and if you learn to incorporate such things in your composition, you will find yourself at a much better place than before.
What to Look For?
A good tripod can last years and still work fine. But it is quite important to look in the right places before selecting a tripod for yourself. In this case of landscape photography, here are a few things which you must always keep in mind before narrowing down to a single tripod.
1. Weight – Weight plays a major role because you won’t be stationary. You will be traveling a lot and you will need something which doesn’t weigh as much as a boulder but at the same time offers you the flexibility and stability you deserve. Go for carbon fiber tripods if you find yourself some extra money.
2. Flexibility – Being a landscape photographer, you must be able to take pictures from ultra-low angles or from high up above your own height in some cases. To do so, your tripod must be flexible enough but shouldn’t compromise on stability. The only drawback with good, flexible tripods is their bulk. They are quite larger than your traditional travel tripods but in my opinion, they are worth it.
3. Load Capacity – Even if the tripod you select does not have a large load capacity, don’t reject it. The reason being that a landscape photographer’s lenses aren’t that heavy. Most of the time you will find yourself shooting with a wide-angle lens and a couple of filters. They won’t harm a tripod with lower load capacity.
4. Feet – One of the most important criterion for selecting a tripod is its feet. For shooting landscapes, try to find something with hybrid feet ( both rubber and spiked in one assembly). You will need spiked feet in a lot of situations, like in marshy lands, in moist soil or in icy terrain.
5. Additional Features – Additional features like bubble levels, hooks or compasses can benefit your photography skills in many ways. A bubble level is a must for any landscape photographers to maintain a perfect horizontal level of the horizon.
Those are the 5 major things which you must always look for before buying a tripod for landscape photography but if you don’t want to take the pains yourself, here are some good recommendations for you all.
Best Option in a Budget
Landscape photography on a budget is not a very vague idea. People do it and they do it exceptionally well with the limited resources at hand. If you too are on a budget, there is one thing for certain that the tripod will be an aluminum one because CF doesn’t come cheap. But these tripods are good enough for you to get started in landscape photography.
Product: Zomei Q555
Max Height: 62.5″
Collapsed Height: 17.5″
Weight: 2.9 lbs (1.3kg)
Leg Sections: 4
Payload: 17.6 lbs (8kg)
Warranty: 1 year
The Zomei Q555 is one of the best options available for all kinds for budding photographers. If offers many premium features but don’t go too hard on it while using. The central column can be inverted for those low angle shots or it can be converted into a full-sized monopod. The flip locks are fairly good and it has three leg locking positions which is more than what you can expect at this price.
Lightweight Landscape Tripod
If you are looking for something lightweight, flexible and small in size, go for Joby Gorillapod 3k/5k. These tripods are top of the class and their trump card is their ability to twist, wrap, turn around anything without any compromise in the stability. They generally come with an attached ball head which is fairly good to work with. The Gorillapod is a bit bulky though due to the joints in their legs but you will get a hang of it once you start using them. The 5K can handle a load of up to 5kgs which is a must if you have heavy camera bodies. Go with the 3k if you have a light DSLR or a mirrorless camera. Click here for a more in-depth review of Joby Gorillapod.
Best Option for Semi-Pros/Pros
The Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 is the go-to tripod for many photographers and probably the last tripod you will buy. Consider this as an upgrade to your previous tripod. Being a carbon fiber tripod it has excellent vibration dampening properties and is probably the most flexible tripod in the market. This model has been around for some time now but the craze of it is increasing day by day.SPECS
Product: Manfrotto 055CXPRO3
Max Height: 67″ (170cm)
Collapsed Height: 24″ (61cm)
Weight: 4.4 lbs (2kg)
Leg Sections: 3
Payload: 19.8 lbs (9kg)
Warranty: 2 years, can be extended to 10 yrs.
Note: This link is for the aluminum version, if you want the CF one, change the preference on Amazon page.
The central column switches to a horizontal boom with a simple switch and it can go to ultra-low angles thanks to 4 different leg locking positions. The tripod when collapsed is significantly larger in size than the other ones in this range but that’s because of fewer leg sections (The lesser the better). That’s probably the only downside. The Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 doesn’t come cheap, so if you want to save some extra bucks and can carry 0.5 kg more of weight then go for the aluminum version of this tripod.
Landscape photography is one of the most beautiful forms of photography. I find it the most satisfying among all other genres. But good landscape photography always comes with regular practice and constant learning. Whatever you learn, just go and apply it in the field. There are many things to keep in mind before clicking a good picture. For example, a simple change in white balance can make or break your picture. If you are a beginner, using a tripod will be troublesome but it is essential for your own growth and learning.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Always try to implement the tips mentioned above and if you have any queries or doubts, be sure to leave them below in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.