Tips & Tutorials

Picture Style Techniques to Level Up Your Landscape Photography

If you are going to capture natural landscapes, why not take advantage of the Picture Style function? Using images from the EOS 6D Mark II, this article explores the fine adjustments you can make to the “Landscape” and “Fine Detail” Picture Style modes to capture scenes in greater detail. (Reported by Jiro Tateno)

Waterfall with Picture Style-Landscape and PL filter

 

Technique 1: Combine Picture Style with a polarizing filter to cut out white reflections and customize colours

Waterfall with Picture Style-Landscape and PL filter

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 22mm/ Manual exposure (f/11, 6 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Tungsten Light

When you photograph waterfalls, elements with shiny, reflective surfaces such as water or leaves tend to appear whitish instead of their original colour due to light reflecting off them. This can cause the image to look blown out. Using a polarizing filter (PL filter) can cut out such unwanted reflections and make the original colours and even the stones in the water visible, ultimately enhancing the atmosphere and ensuring that the photo has a good balance of light and shadow.

Click here to find out what else you can do with a polarizing filter

At the same time, you can even more impressively capture the aspect you want to show by switching the Picture Style to ‘Landscape’ mode and finely adjusting the colour tones. To me, this scene was something straight out of a dreamlike, fantasy world. Hence, I set the shutter speed to 6 seconds to capture the waterfall in a silky stream of white. If you are unable to use a slow shutter speed, I recommend using a neutral density filter (ND filter). I then set the white balance to "Tungsten Light" to add blue tones, lending the entire image a surreal, magical atmosphere.

 

Tip 1: Fine tune using the detailed settings in Picture Style

When I set the Picture Style to ‘Landscape' mode, the colour of the grass was intense and stood out too much, so I adjusted the Colour Tone to "+1", and the Colour Saturation to "-2". This toned down the green of the grass, which helps direct the viewer’s attention towards the waterfall.

Picture Style detailed settings menu

Before adjusting detailed settings

Before adjustment

After adjusting Picture Style detailed settings

After adjustment

 

Tip 2: Use a PL filter to minimize reflection of light

A PL filter can be used to cut unwanted reflection of light from greenery and the water's surface. This brings out the original colours and even makes the stones underwater visible, ensuring that the image has a good balance of light and shadow.

Use a PL filter to minimize reflection of light

No PL filter

Without PL filter

With PL filter

With PL filter

 

Tip 1: Portrait orientation can add depth to the image, but makes the scene look less vast

I composed the image below so that the waterfall was placed in the centre, with the water flowing from the top left to the bottom right. Shooting in portrait orientation is good for adding depth to the image. However, it also cuts off the flow of the water and gives an impression that the image is incomplete—not ideal if your aim is to convey the vastness of the scenery.

Waterfall in portrait orientation

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 25mm/ Manual exposure (f/13, 1/2 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Manual

 

Tip 2: Choose the right WB setting for the scene

If you shoot with the white balance set to ‘Daylight’, the leaves do not look as green, and the colour of the rocks and ground in the image becomes more prominent. The whiteness of the waterfall does not stand out either.

Waterfall with White Balance: Daylight

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 26mm/ Manual exposure (f/13, 1/2 sec)/ ISO 100/ WB: Manual

 

Technique 2: Use ‘Fine Detail’ to capture elaborate details in the scene

With Picture Style – Fine Detail

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 35mm/ Manual exposure (f/11, 5 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Daylight

In scenes where there is a concentration of small objects with a lot of detail, such as leaves and trees, setting the Picture Style to "Fine Detail" allows you to accurately depict right down to the fine details*. The sharpness that emphasizes the edges is enhanced, improving the texture of the details. Take extra care to minimize camera shake when taking shots. For this scene, I narrowed the aperture to f/11 and set the focus point to slightly in front of centre so that the image would appear sharp overall.

*Note: This Picture Style is available on selected camera models such as the EOS 6D Mark II, EOS 5DS/5DS R, EOS 5D Mark IV, EOS-1D X Mark II, EOS M5, and EOS M6.

 

Tip: Use "Fine Detail" to enhance the expressive capabilities of the fine details

"Fine Detail" sharpens as far as the contours of detailed areas to properly express the details in a scene. The contours are emphasized, particularly for fine items such as leaves captured from a distant view, making such details appear sharp, so the effect is easy to see. In "Neutral", the image is blurred overall, with the outlines of the finer elements blending into each other as compared to "Fine Detail".

Close up: Picture Style Fine Detail

Fine Detail

Close up: Picture Style Neutral

Neutral

 

Bonus tip: Use a slow shutter speed to weaken the depiction of mist

Mist in landscape photograph

EOS 6D Mark II/ EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM/ FL: 35mm/ Manual exposure (f/11, 5.0 sec)/ ISO 200/ WB: Manual

The forest was shrouded in a thick mist. When shooting with a high shutter speed, the trees in the background were hidden behind the mist. However, at a slow shutter speed, the mist drifted, making the trees visible.

 

Mist photograph (5 sec shutter speed)

5 sec

Mist photograph (1/10 sec shutter speed)

1/10 sec

 

We have introduced 2 Picture Styles and how you can fine tune them and enhance them with other settings to achieve certain effects. The other Picture Styles can be customized to suit your intentions too. (For more information, check out: 3 Steps to Creating Custom Photos With Picture Style) Get to know your Picture Styles, and they can be a wonderful tool for you to express your photographic creativity.

Also see the following articles about the EOS 6D Mark II:
EOS 6D Mark II: What You Should Know About Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Live View AF
EOS 6D Mark II First Impressions Review: Landscape Photography

You may also be interested in:
Photographing Landscapes with the EOS 5D Mark IV: 2 Different Approaches
Decisions in Landscape Photography: Morning or Evening?
EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM: Breath-taking Landscape Photography Even With Handheld Shooting

 


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EOS 6D Mark II (Body)

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EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM

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EF16-35mm f/2.8L III USM

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Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation

Jiro Tateno

Born in Tokyo in 1975. From around 1990, he came into contact with nature through fly fishing, and took up photography. From 1999, he travelled around the country taking photos with the theme of "Natural Beauty". He currently supplies photos for magazines, books, posters, calendars, and so on. He held an "Okinawa" photo exhibition in 2010, and "Northern Lights - Journey of Light/ Iceland" photo exhibition in 2017.

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