TECHNIQUE ASSESSMENT
Photography week|October 07, 2021
Neil showed Sarah how to set up her camera to help her capture great landscape shots

LIVE VIEW

Neil says

The best shots are rarely taken from standing height, and my mantra is to get ‘low and close.’ The articulating screen of Sarah’s D500 enables images to be shot from a comfortable shooting position. It also gives a live preview of how the shot will turn out before you actually take it.

MY MENU

Neil says…

Over the course of our shoot I’d suggested Sarah tweak many settings found under different menus, such as Airplane mode and Exposure Delay. To keep them in a unified place, set them to My Menu – Select the Add Items option to add oft-used settings, so that they’re easily accessed.

EXPOSURE DELAY MODE

Neil says…

I’ve lost count of the number of remote releases I’ve mislaid over the years, and instead suggest using Exposure Delay mode if your camera has it – when the shutter button is pressed the mirror is raised but the exposure is taken a couple of seconds later, enabling any vibrations from ‘mirror slap’ to subside.

HOT SHOT #1

Tomorrow is going to be an interesting adventure with the weather,” cautioned Neil, making the final preparations the day before their Apprentice shoot. “I’m sure we will get some great images; the Dales look terrific with storm clouds moving across the peaks, but given that late afternoon is more than likely going to be lighting and rain photography, an early start would be best.”

Meeting in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales village of Stainforth at the appointed time of 10am, the pair donned their wet-weather gear and walking boots, and set off on the short walk to their first location, the nearby Stainforth Force, a series of cascading waterfalls framed by an old packhorse bridge. The recent rain had followed a prolonged dry spell, so the water levels would be relatively low, but there would be flowing water, promised Neil, adding, “In fact, these overcast conditions are perfect for shooting falls. There will be less contrast in the scene, and on a sunny day glare can be a real problem reflecting off the water. Let’s start with a shot of the falls themselves. Over to you, Sarah!”

Setting the scene

Sarah went about setting up her tripod, adjusting the height of the legs to level the camera on the uneven rocky terrain. But Neil intervened. “It’s looking pretty precarious,” he warned, pointing out that the camera was leaning forward alarmingly. “Make sure the centre of gravity is directly under the middle of the tripod, and as a rule, position the foremost leg so that it’s under the lens – unless you’re shooting at an ultra-wide angle, in which case there would be a danger of the leg appearing in the shot.”

After adjusting the setup so that it was much more stable, Sarah composed her scene, and Neil offered some critical advice: “It helps to set a brief in your head before composing your scene, and the brief we’d set ourselves here was to photograph the falls. What’s that adding to the frame?” He was pointing out the line of trees behind the falls on the rear screen. “Nothing really…” admitted Sarah. “Then get rid of it!” replied Neil.

Sarah adjusted her composition for a more tightly framed shot of the falls, which the pair agreed was much more pleasing, and so the next step was to decide on the exposure settings. “You’ll almost always want to shoot at your camera’s base ISO for optimum quality, in the case of your D500 that’s ISO100,” suggested Neil.

HOT SHOT #2

“For aperture, f/8 is the sweet spot for the majority of lenses and gives a good depth of field, so I’d use that as your go-to, unless you need a greater depth of field. On your D500 I’d go as far as f/14, but I wouldn’t push my Z 7II any further than f/11, because the effects of diffraction will be noticeable due to the 45.7MP sensor.”

The resultant 1/30 sec shutter speed showed some movement in the falls, but gave a messy-looking shot. Trying a 6-stop ND filter made the exposure too long and ‘milky’, but a 3-stop ND and polariser combo resulted in a 1/6 sec shutter speed, which gave a pleasing blur.

“As the saying goes, the best shot might just be behind you,” commented Neil, indicating the stone-built packhorse bridge the pair had crossed on the way to the location. Sarah carefully checked the top, bottom, sides and corners of her composition to ensure there were no unnecessary distractions in the frame. As they were now shooting with the sun behind them, their shadows had crept into the shot. The solution was simply to crouch down while shooting, but Sarah confessed that checking for this wouldn’t have occurred to her before. Happy their shadows were no longer in shot, and using the polariser to remove glare from the river in conjunction with an 3-stop ND grad to tame the brighter sky, she fired the shutter, capturing the raindrops as they rippled on the river surface. “In truth, either of these would make our first Hot Shot,” reflected Neil, “but I like the way the ‘V’ of sky and its reflection form leading lines to the bridge; and besides, our next shot is also a waterfall, so this one pips it!”

Weathering the storm

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