The inspiring scenes you see in this magazine? Chances are they were taken with a wide-angle lens (14-24mm). Shorter focal lengths keep subjects tiny against a grand landscape. “You convey a sense of place with wide-angle shots,” says photographer Jon Cornforth. “You give somebody the feeling that he’s standing there.” Here’s how to get them.
» Include an interesting foreground object, then get close—set the camera within two feet of flowers or rocks.
» Shoot at the highest f/stop possible (f/11 to f/22) to increase your depth of field. “This lets you shoot from three feet away to infinity, and everything will be in focus,” says Cornforth.
» Tiny apertures require slower shutter speeds, so a tripod is essential for a crisp image. To prevent blur from a shaky trigger finger, use a cable release or the self-timer delay; both keep your hands off the camera.
Longer lenses also make for striking landscape shots because they compress the scene, making background peaks look more imposing—as if they’re rising right behind your subject (see photo at left). Use a 70-200mm telephoto lens with an SLR. (Using a point-and-shoot? Get crisper photos with an optical—not digital—zoom of at least 10x.) Also, remember that small slices of the landscape can make for unforgettable photos—think a moonrise over a ridge or a rainbow plunging into a distant canyon. Zoom in to grab the details.
PRO TIP: TAKE YOUR TIME
One of the biggest mistakes made by amateur landscape photographers? Shooting too quickly, says pro Tomas Kaspar. When you find a vista that grabs you, take a moment to look through your camera to find the perfect angle. “What you see in the viewfinder is different from what your eye sees,” says Kaspar. Scout for a shot with the perfect foreground, beautiful light, and no distracting branches or other features. “It shouldn’t be point-and-shoot; it should be point-look-and-shoot.”