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Shooting Landscapes Like a Pro: More Tips for Creating Stunning Scenic Images

Best-selling author Scott Kelby shares his top tips for capturing gorgeous landscape shots with your digital SLR.
This chapter is from the book

103fig01.jpg In volume 1 of this book, I had a chapter on shooting landscapes, and it turned out to be one of the most popular chapters in the book. So, when I started on volume 2, I knew right then I would have to include another chapter with even more landscape techniques. And the only way to come up with new landscape techniques is to (you guessed it) shoot more landscapes, and what better place to shoot landscapes than at a landscape photography workshop? So, since I published the last edition of this book, I’ve taught at photography workshops in beautiful locations like Yosemite National Park, Cape Cod, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Glacier National Park, and then I just did some shooting in Maine this summer, and some other amazing places like Utah’s Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon, and a half-dozen other incredibly scenic spots. But when it’s all said and done, do you know what all these places really meant to me? Tax deductions. That’s right, because I went to these locations on business (the images will be used by me to teach photography), I get some really juicy write-offs for these trips. For example, you see that photo on the facing page? That’s The Wave, which is just outside Page, Arizona, and not only is access to The Wave tightly restricted by the Bureau of Land Management, it was a grueling two-hour hike in scorching 112° desert heat over rocky mountains and hot desert sand, lugging all my camera gear, tripod (and bottles of water), and I have to be honest with you—there were times when I almost gave up, but you know what kept me going? It was the fact that if I didn’t get there, and get a decent enough shot to make it into this book, I couldn’t write my trip off as a tax deduction. See, I really do care.

The Secret to Shooting Sunsets

Because you’re shooting into the sun, it can really throw your camera’s built-in light meter way off, and what looked so beautiful when you were standing there comes out...well...pretty lame. Luckily, there’s a simple trick to getting perfect sunset shots every time. The trick is to aim just above the setting sun itself (but make sure you can’t see the sun itself through your viewfinder), then hold your shutter button halfway down, which tells the camera to set the exposure for just what it sees in the viewfinder right now. This gives you a perfect sunset exposure, but don’t let go of that shutter button quite yet (keep it held down), then you can move your camera and recompose the shot as you’d like it to look. By keeping that button held down, you’ve locked in that perfect exposure, and once everything looks good to you, just press the shutter button down the rest of the way and take the shot. You will have nailed the exposure and captured the scene perfectly.

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