Photography Techniques Tech

The Most Stubborn Myths in Landscape Photography

Rule of thirds landscape

Likelihood is good that you simply’ve run throughout loads of misinformation whereas working towards images, panorama or in any other case. Some myths, although, stand the check of time, outlasting years of diligent debunking. Under are 4 of the most typical myths and misconceptions you’ll discover in the sector of panorama images, together with some that are prevalent even amongst superior photographers.

1) The Rule of Thirds

Maybe the only most cussed fable in panorama images, and images in basic, is the rule of thirds. You’ve heard of it earlier than, I’m positive. Even non-photographers know concerning the rule of thirds.

The rule of thirds isn’t merely probably the most well-known composition tip; it’s the one one which lots of people know. However is it worthwhile? Do you have to mentally superimpose a 1/three grid throughout many, most, or all your photographs earlier than taking them?

Rule of thirds landscapeRule of thirds landscapeFollowing the rule of thirds

The easy reply is not any; you shouldn’t default to composing to the rule of thirds. Maybe an important cause why is that the rule of thirds is only a single rigid construction, decreasing some of the essential ideas in images – composition – right into a components that takes away a lot of your artistic management.

Consider one of the best pictures of all time. What number of of them are composed based on the rule of thirds? Some definitely align greater than others, however their compositions are everywhere in the board.

The rule of thirds is just priceless in a method: It introduces newbies to the truth that off-center compositions could be profitable. That’s it. Should you already perceive this reality – the potential worth of putting your topic off to at least one aspect or the opposite – you’ve outgrown the rule of thirds.

Aside from that, there isn’t a psychological foundation to the rule of thirds. There isn’t any distinction between the rule of thirds and, say, the “rule of two fifths” besides that it’s simpler to recollect. Our eyes definitely don’t gravitate to the 1/three intersection factors; usually, they gravitate towards the factors of curiosity in a photograph no matter the place they’re situated.

Similar goes for different compositional buildings. When you attempt to compose a big portion of your photographs in the identical method, you doubtless will miss out on a variety of fascinating photographs.

Photo Composed without Rule of ThirdsPhoto Composed without Rule of ThirdsNIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/four @ 135mm, ISO 800, 1/400, f/16.zeroNarrowsNarrowsNIKON D800E + 20mm f/1.eight @ 20mm, ISO 100, 2 seconds, f/16.zeroISO Invariance AspensISO Invariance AspensNIKON D800E + 20mm f/1.eight @ 20mm, ISO 100, 1/30, f/

Fantasy: The rule of thirds is probably the most pleasing and highly effective approach to compose your pictures.

As an alternative: Composition could be very difficult, extremely subjective, and deeply private. The perfect composition will change considerably from photograph to photograph. It’s not that the rule of thirds construction is dangerous by any means – it’s simply impartial, no extra particular than different methods to border a photograph. The higher technique is to compose each panorama photograph for its personal deserves. Don’t fall again on an rigid, one-size-fits-all rule to deal with such an necessary topic.

2) Exposing to the Proper (ETTR) and Blown Highlights

Exposing to the proper, or ETTR, is if you take the brightest attainable photograph that doesn’t overexpose any pixels with essential particulars. Completed proper, ETTR outcomes in the very best potential picture high quality, since you’re capturing as a lot info as attainable.

Nevertheless, you’ll typically hear panorama photographers say that they don’t expose to the fitting as a result of they don’t need to blow out any highlights. Or, they’ll point out a handful of conditions the place ETTR isn’t useful, reminiscent of high-contrast scenes. Is that an correct perspective or one other fable?

First, let’s take a look at a simple instance. The following photograph is as brilliant as potential, however not one of the spotlight particulars are utterly blown out. A picture like this out of digital camera is uncovered to the fitting:

ETTR Photo Before DarkeningETTR Photo Before DarkeningThis photograph, in fact, can be darkened in subsequent post-processing.

Nobody actually argues with that instance. It’s a clear case of ETTR, with very a vibrant photograph that nonetheless preserves all the essential spotlight element. Nearly all photographers agree that ETTR in instances like it will outcome in the absolute best picture high quality (after darkening the RAW photograph in post-production).

The place many individuals get confused is that this instance, too, is correctly uncovered to the suitable (unedited):

Negative 2.0EV ExposureNegative 2.0EV Exposure

And so is that this one (additionally unedited):

Fjord Horse-1Fjord Horse-1

That’s as a result of exposing to the best has nothing to do with whether or not your photograph seems too darkish or too vibrant. It has every thing to do with preserving your spotlight element.

In truth, exposing to the appropriate often means taking a darker publicity than what your digital camera’s meter recommends. Of the three photographs above, if I had adopted my meter, the underside two would have misplaced vital spotlight element. Exposing to the suitable, then, saved the photograph.

So, if anybody ever tells you to not expose to the appropriate as a result of it will probably end result in overexposure, they’re misinformed. By definition, ETTR can’t blow out your highlights.

That’s to not say you need to all the time expose to the correct, although. It might take some additional time in the sector to get actual, and also you is perhaps prepared to simply accept a less-than-optimal publicity in order to ensure that you simply acquired one thing earlier than the scene pale. And, at larger ISOs (not as widespread in panorama images), the advantages are a lot subtler.

However don’t fall for the parable that exposing to the proper can blow out your highlights. As an alternative, ETTR is calculated underexposure – calculated to the brightest attainable level, so that you simply seize the best quantity of data in a single picture.

Fantasy: Exposing to the best can blow out your highlights.

As an alternative: Exposing to the appropriate is the optimum publicity in a photograph. Correct ETTR merely can’t blow out any necessary highlights, because the elementary definition of exposing to the suitable is that you simply’re maintaining your highlights intact. Somewhat than following your digital camera’s meter precisely, expose to the proper when you have time to take action. (If you need ideas, take a look at this text.)

three) The place to Focus in a Landscape

In case you’re making an attempt to seize a panorama, and also you need the whole picture to seem as sharp as attainable from entrance to again, the place would you focus? The horizon? Your major topic? A 3rd of the best way into the scene? Not one of the above. It looks like for each attainable focusing distance, you’ll discover somebody recommending it as optimum! However most of those strategies miss the mark.

Even hyperfocal distance calculators and charts usually are not ideally suited if you’d like the sharpest photograph from entrance to again. They’re biased towards supplying you with the very same (comparatively low) quantity of background sharpness in each single photograph, no matter whether or not or not a sharper result’s potential, and no matter how shut or distant your foreground is. On prime of that, they don’t even take diffraction under consideration. If most entrance to again sharpness is your objective, they’re not value consulting.

As an alternative, to seek out the space the place you need to focus in order to seize each a maximally sharp foreground and background, you don’t want a chart; you solely want some elementary faculty math. It’s the “double the distance” technique, as we’ve talked about a couple of occasions earlier than on Photography Life: Discover the closest object in your scene that you simply need to be sharp. Estimate its distance away out of your digital camera. Double that distance. Focus there.

Hyperfocal Distance Landscape PhotoHyperfocal Distance Landscape PhotoNIKON D800E + 14-24mm f/2.eight @ 14mm, ISO 200, 1/50, f/
Right here, I the closest flowers have been about one foot (zero.6 meters) away from my digital camera, so I targeted on flowers about two ft (zero.6 meters) away.

You’ll be able to go in extra element by studying our full hyperfocal distance article, however you have already got the elemental info you want. If the closest object in your photograph is roughly two ft away, focus 4 ft away. If the closest object in your photograph is one meter away, focus two meters away.

The solely counterexample is should you don’t need most sharpness from entrance to again – for instance, should you’re prioritizing topic sharpness greater than anything. In that case, merely concentrate on the topic (such because the Milky Means at night time).

Fantasy: You need to focus “1/3 into the scene” in panorama images. Or you need to give attention to the horizon. Or it is best to use a standard hyperfocal distance chart. And so forth.

As an alternative: There is just one focusing level which equalizes foreground and background sharpness, supplying you with the sharpest potential photograph from entrance to again. Though there are a couple of strategies to seek out it, the simplest is just the double-the-distance technique. (Additionally take a look at our different article on choosing the optimum aperture now that you simply’ve targeted correctly.)

four) Professionals and Guide Mode

One way or the other, phrase acquired round to starting photographers that the professionals shoot all-manual every thing. Though that is sensible in principle – professional photographers wouldn’t need the digital camera making any essential selections, proper? – it doesn’t seize a big a part of the reality.

The reality is that skilled photographers use numerous automated options on a regular basis. Autofocus, automated metering, semi-automatic publicity modes, auto topic monitoring, TTL flash, and so forth. It’s virtually inescapable, and that’s an excellent factor.

Automated modes aren’t only a strategy to fill in gaps in your information. Additionally they serve an necessary function to hurry up the seize course of.

For instance, say that you simply’re capturing a dawn because the sky will get brighter and brighter. Do you need to watch your digital camera’s meter and manually change publicity when it shifts, or would you slightly the digital camera do the very same factor by itself, supplying you with one much less factor to fret about?

Most individuals would like the latter. That’s one cause why I exploit aperture-priority mode (probably the most helpful of the semi-automatic modes, in basic) on a regular basis for panorama images, and solely change to guide once I want a number of photographs in a row to have precisely the identical publicity settings.

In one other case, say that you simply’re making an attempt to focus completely on a fence in your foreground whereas a rainbow is fading shortly in the background. Do you have to take the time to enlarge reside view as a lot as potential, then manually flip the main target ring till the picture seems to be sharp? Or, would you slightly use autofocus to focus at the very same spot far more shortly, and with usually equal accuracy? That’s what I did under:

Ireland-Waterfall-Rainbow-SunriseIreland-Waterfall-Rainbow-SunriseNIKON D800E + 70-200mm f/four @ 130mm, ISO 100, 1/2, f/

Execs shoot with numerous automated settings on a regular basis. I’m not referring to all professionals – definitely, some photographers favor to shoot utterly manually on a regular basis, both out of behavior or simply as a result of they’re most snug with it – however the overwhelming majority will use particular automated options continuously and not using a second thought. If it’s a neater option to get the identical picture, why not?

Fable: Superior photographers keep away from the “auto” settings a digital camera provides.

As an alternative: It relies upon upon the individual, however most superior photographers will shoot with some auto settings very often. This doesn’t imply you need to use the full-auto mode in your digital camera, which actually does take away very important management. It additionally doesn’t imply guide mode is ineffective; it’s important for sure pictures. However when you’ve mastered issues like publicity and focusing, you’ll understand that there are a number of occasions when you need to use an automatic function to hurry up your course of with out giving up management.


From the artistic aspect of panorama images to the technical, there are many widespread myths that may hurt your photographs when you consider them too completely.

These simply scratch the floor, however hopefully the knowledge above offers a framework for parsing the truth of widespread panorama images strategies. Fairly merely, query every part you study and check it out for your self earlier than accepting it as legitimate. Check out totally different compositions aside from the rule of thirds and see the way you just like the outcomes. Follow exposing to the suitable – the right method – for those who’ve been cautious of it earlier than. Examine for your self the double-the-distance technique towards conventional hyperfocal distance charts to see which one provides you sharper photographs from entrance to again. And, for those who’re capturing all-manual every little thing, use a semi-automatic mode of some type and see if it improves your velocity in the sector.

The excellent news is that quite a lot of photographers on the market already know the knowledge above, they usually’re continually correcting myths when they could seem. Nonetheless, some faults will all the time discover a approach into the fold, and it helps to be ready towards them from the beginning. Hopefully the listing above places a couple of of them into perspective for you.

If there are another myths you’ve come throughout that you really want different photographers to know, be happy so as to add them in the feedback under!