The Photography & Filmmaking Education Resource
0 Me Search
1 914-347-3300
ShopToolsLearnEngage

Learning Center

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

BY Brenda Tharp May 09, 2017 · Published by Benro

When you want to make your best landscapes or travel scenes, a tripod is still the best way to go. Tripods force you to work more slowly, and because of that, you tend to be more careful with your composition and focus.

I am often asked by my clients on my travel photography tours whether a tripod is necessary. My answer? Always. Many cameras now boast very acceptable noise management, but that doesn’t mean using a high ISO won’t be a compromise to the quality of a lower ISO. When you want to make your best landscapes or travel scenes, a tripod is still the best way to go.

Tripods force you to work more slowly, and because of that, you tend to be more careful with your composition and focus. They also allow you to create more depth-of-field by using a smaller aperture and allow you to incorporate motion in your still image, such as in a waterfall or stream, without pushing the ISO way up.

1. Capture Moments

A tripod allows you to set up, compose, and be ready for the moment when it occurs. With this bear family, I was observing them eating and loved how she would swoop her paw around a wad of grass. I got ready for that moment, but I also wanted the young cub that was visible to have a mouthful of grass. Being on the tripod allowed me to watch both actions and time it when they were both right.

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 1 of 8

2. Think About Panoramas We are used to seeing the width equivalent to what you’d see through a 40mm lens, more or less, so when you can create wider formats, such as panoramas, it’s exciting and a fresh way for the eye to view a scene. I feel they add something to each travel journey I make, as well as when doing my landscape photography. While it’s amazing what you can do with hand-held exposures due to sophisticated software for stitching, I have found that I often drift downhill to the right when I move my camera to capture my series for a panorama. I try to compensate for that, but it’s still risky. When the stitching is done, I sometimes find I clipped off the mountaintop or steeple because I drifted too much! So I use the tripod in most cases now. I don’t use all the fancy nodal sliders and leveler heads, but with a little patience to level the tripod head, and a few practice ‘swings’ to see how it looks, I can get great results. The results are consistently more successful using my tripod.

 

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 2 of 8

3. Photograph at Dawn or Sunset 

Nothing adds more mood to a scene like an image made in the golden or ‘blue’ hour, when the twilight or sunset sky balances with the city lights in your exposure. When I travel, I always plan to be out for early morning light and sunset/twilight where I know I can capture the mood of a place. When your friends are inside eating dinner, you need to be out making pictures!

 

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 3 of 8

This type of photograph requires a slow shutter speed, one below what most vibration control mechanisms can manage, even with a wider angle lens. So this is another time when a tripod is essential for me. This dusk view over the city of Havana, Cuba was made from the 17th floor of a hotel that I chose for the location. Maybe I could have used the balcony railing and done a shorter exposure by raising the ISO high, but I chose my tripod for more stability, as I was at f16 for 20 seconds.

 

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 4 of 8

I also look for rooftop restaurants and bars, or church bell towers, etc, to capture an aerial-like view of a city or village. These pictures add a unique way to share the place visited. In Sevilla, a modern sculpture was erected in a square that gives visitors an elevated view of the city. The sculpture itself is very unique, and at dusk, it was lit and in balance with the twilight sky around it. This exposure was just 7 seconds at f16, but long enough to run the risk of vibrations from people walking all over this structure! I had to time it when I thought no one would start up or down the steps.

I love to work with mixtures of ambient light over flash when working inside. This young monk was praying below a reclining Buddha statue, and the candlelight was spectacular on the whole scene. Thankfully, I was allowed to use my tripod inside the small stupa. It was a very narrow space, so I couldn’t spread my tripod legs out completely, but even partially spread, it gave me enough stability to get the shot. The exposure was .8 sec at f10, and he did a great job of holding very still for the photo!

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 5 of 8

As a landscape photographer, I can’t live without the stable platform of a tripod. Too many pictures I create are with small aperture for great depth of field, or in the low light of sunrise or sunset. I also like to incorporate the suggestion of motion in my still images, such as with moving water. The photo of Yosemite Falls was made one special night when it was clear and a full moon was rising over the cliffs. The exposure was about 6 minutes, and being set on the tripod, I could use my remote release to make the photo.

 

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 6 of 8

The sunburst inside Hickman Arch in Capitol Reef required three exposures for an HDR process. To make certain I had the starburst align properly, I had to use the tripod. It was a challenge because the sun moves faster than you think when you try to capture a sliver of it along an edge like this stone arch. Yet with continuous frame setting on the camera, I captured them quickly enough that it worked.

 

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 7 of 8

I love intimate details, and while I used to just bend over to try and get parallel to scenes like this leaf on drying mud, I learned my lesson when too often, one section of the scene would be ‘soft’, outside the depth of field. To render this scene completely sharp, I needed f16 and that put my shutter at ? second, so a tripod was required.

 

Tips for Better Landscape and Travel Photographs: Picture 8 of 8

Can you tell I’m a tripod lover? You bet! I can’t do my job as an artist without one for certain types of photography. Candid moments, street photography, flying birds – all of those work better without being on a tripod, but for landscapes, intimate details, macro, slow-moving wildlife, perching birds, travel scenes at dusk, interiors, and more, it’s a valuable tool for me. When I travel, I just make sure to have a light but sturdy tripod that is packable, to guarantee I’ll always have it with me.


Category:
Aesthetics and Theory
Benro
Composition and Posing

Featured photographer: Brenda Tharp

Featured gear:
FTA18AB0 Travel Angel Tripod with Ballhead
FTA18CC Travel Angel Tripod
FTA18CV0 Travel Angel Tripod with Ballhead
FTA28AB1Travel Angel Tripod with Ballhead
FTA28CC Travel Angel Tripod
FTA28CV1 Travel Angel Tripod with Ballhead
FTA29CV1 Travel Angel Tripod with Ballhead

Back to list

to top
close

New to PhotoVideoEdu? SignUp now to see EDU discounts!

Log In
With Social Account
You can use your social services accounts to login to our system, but if you're logging in the first time please select if you are a

Shopper

Student

Educator

With E-mail