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Landscapes – Composition and Camera Features

Featuring highly advanced AF functions and various shooting functions, a professional landscape photographer shares how you can make full use of the EOS 5D Mark III's amazing features. (Reported by: Michiko Yone)

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM/ FL: 29mm/ Manual exposure (4 sec., f/16)/ ISO 800/ WB: Daylight/ PL filter/ Tripod/ Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture

It was early spring on the island of Yakushima, but the forest was already covered in lush green, forming a picturesque scene after the rain. Here, I used a 16-35mm lens to depict the atmosphere of the forest with the huge rock as the main theme.

Three Approaches to Capturing Impressive Landscape Photography

Composition: Wide-angle lens to stress depth

When taking a landscape photo, the full-frame sensor of the camera should be put to good use. For subjects such as shown here below, the power of the full-frame sensor is demonstrated to the fullest through the width and dimensionality of the image. You are recommended to compose a shot using a wide-angle lens to add a moderate sense of depth and ambience. If you are trying to capture a giant tree like here, zooming in excessively may prevent the viewer from grasping the actual size or characteristics of the subject. In this case, you should include the surrounding atmosphere in the composition.

Light: Avoid blowouts by using morning/evening light

In landscape photography, blowouts can be avoided by using the gentle sunlight in the morning or evening. Besides, the reddish light in the early morning or during sunset also helps to make the subject appear more picturesque. In the last photo shown below, I tried to capture the afternoon sunlight when it seeped through the canopy of the trees like rays of spotlight. However, as the light was too bright, I made use of the multiple-exposure feature to weaken the intensity so as to create a soft-focus effect. If the shoot takes place in a dense forest, try to aim for the moment when light penetrates through the leaves and branches irregularly. Doing so creates a high-contrast image with a large exposure difference.

Settings: Lock up mirror to prevent shake

To focus, magnify the subject by 10 times using the Live View function, and adjust the focus with MF. Also, set [Highlight tone priority] to [Enable]. Tripods are employed for landscape shots most of the time, so avoid using a high ISO speed whenever possible. Basically, set the image-recording quality to [RAW+JPEG], white balance to [Daylight], and Picture Style to [Landscape]. Always use a remote control, lock up the mirror even when you are using lenses other than a telephoto, and pay careful attention to prevent camera shake. The exposure mode should be set to [Manual], and adjust the aperture value and shutter speed every time.

EOS 5D Mark III Recommended Feature

Multiple Exposures

Not only can the multiple-exposure approach be employed for the soft expression of subjects such as flowers, it also comes in handy when shooting a scene with strong light as illustrated in Photo 3. Generally, [Additive] is used for capturing landscapes. With the multiple-exposure feature, the aperture value and white balance settings can be adjusted for each of the two to nine exposures on the spot.

Recommended Lens

EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

Having a super wide-angle lens helps to draw out the power of a full-frame sensor. Moving close to the subject, you can make use of the deformed and perspective effects to create works with a strong impact.

EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 28mm/ Manual exposure (2.5 sec., f/16)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight/ PL filter/ Tripod/ Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture

I composed a vertical shot of the tree that I ran into along the mountain trail. An overex- posed setting was used to express the bright, misty forest. Blowout is less likely to occur when the forest is clouded in mist, allowing you to convey the ambience of the scene.

EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 105mm/ Manual exposure (1/15 sec., f/4.5)/ ISO 400/ WB: Daylight/ Multiple exposure: [Additive]/ PL filter/ Tripod/ Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture

The fallen leaf on a moss-grown rock was illuminated by the spotlight from the sun. Taking into consideration the bright light, I took a multiple-exposure shot, placing the focus on the fallen leaf in the first exposure, and creating a large bokeh effect in the second.

Michiko Yone

Born in 1967. Yone started her career as a freelance photographer in 2004. Ever since then, she has been capturing shots on Japan’s forests and colorful beauty based on the theme of “inspiring and expressive works.” She is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society (JPS) and the Photographic Society of Japan (PSJ).