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Landscape Photography Part 2

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Link to Part 3 of this tutorial.

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In my previous tutorial on landscape photography I explored how to use depth of field to best advantage, and attempted to explain an important idea known as hyperfocal distance. In this tutorial I'd like to offer some more general tips on landscape photography, which has the huge advantage of not involving any complicated mathematics.

Preparation
The successful landscape photographer is also part geographer, part meteorologist, and part orienteer. Good landscape locations are seldom easily reached by road, so getting to them means either hiring a helicopter (or if you're a member of the royal family, borrowing one at the taxpayers expense), or hiking, often for long distances over open countryside. Essential equipment for landscape photography includes a good pair of walking boots.

Learning to use a compass and read a map is an extremely useful skill, and is still the best way to navigate off-road. Modern GPS systems are very good for guiding you on long car journeys, and can tell you where you are with great precision, but they tell you nothing about the shape of the land, and are best used as a supplement to traditional navigation skills, not as a replacement for them.

When you're planning a photography trip, pay close attention to the weather forecast. It's pretty frustrating to walk five miles to get to the head of a valley only to have the weather change from bright and sunny to cloudy and dull.

It's also worth pointing out that in most parts of the world, getting caught in rapidly worsening weather miles from the nearest shelter can be quite dangerous, even in Britain's seemingly innocuous countryside. If you're heading out into the wilds, make some room in your bag for rainproof clothing, a bottle of water and a couple of energy snack bars, and preferably a few other items, such as a torch, a whistle and one of those silver space blankets. You probably won't need them, but if you do you'll be very glad you brought them along. If you're already tired, hungry and dehydrated, hypothermia can set in surprisingly quickly if you're also lost, soaking wet and blundering through thick fog. I spent several years in a mountain rescue team, and most of our calls were for people who had set out unprepared for sudden changes in the weather. For safety, always tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return.

Another useful skill is an understanding of the position of the sun at different times of day and times of the year, and how this relates to the photograph you want to take. As I'm sure you are aware, the sun moves from the east to the west across the sky (yes, I know it's really the Earth turning. Shut up), so if you want to photograph the view down a valley that faces west then it's best to photograph it in the early afternoon, when it will be lit more evenly. Leave it too late and you'll be shooting into the sun, but arrive too early and most of the valley will be in shadow. However some locations look their best in the very early morning or late in the evening, so you may find that you have to make several trips to a particular location to get the perfect shot.

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