There are many different approaches a landscape photographer can take when capturing a single scene. This is, in my opinion, where much of the artistry in landscape photography is born. I’ve been asked before if I ever get bored of shooting the same scene over and over again, and my answer is always, “Absolutely not!” Weather conditions, light, and seasons change. Those changes add beautiful difference into a scene. However, a photographer does not necessarily need to wait for a different day to capture a scene differently, as it unfolds. There are three ways in which a photographer can capture a single scene that will yield a different look with different results.
In the below three images I’ve captured the same scene, the iconic Three Sisters in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. However, I used a different technique in each of these images, which resulted in different looks.
My three favourite landscape photography techniques when approaching scenes are:
1. Static or normal exposure
Static exposure is capturing a scene as it is. Typically, it is necessary to maintain a faster shutter speed in order to eliminate any possible water or cloud movement. It freezes the beauty of a moment in time. This is an excellent technique to use when there is dynamic cloud definition, or the scene is quiet and reflecting.
2. Long Exposure
A long exposure is a stunning technique with beautiful results. Longer exposures capture movement and infuse a pretty softness into moving clouds or water. It’s a technique that will often require a neutral density filter, such as a 6 or 10 stop filter. Capturing a long exposure is a good choice when there are a clouds moving through the sky. Long exposure is probably my favourite technique when I’m out capturing landscape scenes.
3. Night Exposure
Waiting after a sunset shoot until Astronomical Twilight is well worth it. Shooting at night quickly became an attractive technique when I started capturing landscape images. There’s spectacular beauty in the night sky. When everyone else is sleeping stars light up the sky and twinkle their magic down upon a scene. Most people don’t have the opportunity to see these incredible scenes at night. The camera also can pick up details in the night sky that the human eye is incapable of seeing. When photographing during the night you can try both a static and long exposure. A static night sky image will capture a breathtaking star-studded sky. A long exposure at night will capture gorgeous star trail movement creating a stunning and unique effect.
In each of the above scenes my subjects remain exactly the same however there is significant variety between the three scenes due to the choices I made in my exposure setting techniques. Next time you are out capturing a single landscape scene I encourage you to try capturing the scene in both a static and long exposure mode. Capturing a scene at night might take a little more effort but it is well worth the effort. The results are captivating.