Landscape Photography for Beginners – Part 3 – Camera Settings

A whole guide could probably be written about camera settings alone for landscape photography, but I want to keep this post reasonably straightforward. So I will first mention the exposure triangle.

The main settings on you camera that you need to pay attention to for any type of photography are ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. The exposure triangle explains the relationship between these.

In order to correctly expose an image your camera will balance these three elements. A change in the ISO might affect the Aperture and/or the shutter speed, as might a change in Shutter speed affect the other two. Luckily most cameras have modes that help take the strain out of this. Even in fully manual mode you can set the camera to auto ISO.

My advice for any landscape beginner would be to put your camera on Aperture Priority mode and set the ISO manually yourself to no higher than around 400. Generally, the lower your ISO the less digital noise will be introduced into your image, although the higher end cameras tend to cope with this a lot better.

So with your ISO somewhere between 100—400, in aperture priority mode, the only other decision you need to make is what aperture you want to use. This will determine how much of your image is in focus. The smaller the aperture (higher f number) the more of your image around your focal point will be in focus. So if you want both the foreground and distance in your scene to be in focus you would be looking at Camera Settings somewhere around f11 to f16. I have found that going any higher (f number) than this doesn’t make a lot of difference. Your camera will then very cleverly calculate what it thinks the shutter speed should be to give you a balnaced exposure.

It is important to note that the smaller the aperture (higher f number), the less light is let onto the sensor and so the shutter speed needs to be slower to compensate. If the shutter speed needs to be too slow then this is where you may need to use a tripod and remote shutter release as mentioned in a previous blog post.

This should be enough to get you started. If you want to progress to using manual mode, which you will need should you start using filters, etc. then you can still set the ISO yourself to between 100-400, then set both the aperture and shutter speed as necessary to balance the exposure.

It takes practice and a bit of knowledge but you can utilise your own skill to balance these in order to create the desired effect. Good luck and happy shooting!