Understanding The Camera Settings

Getting Started In Landscape Photography


What’s the best camera for Landscape Photography?


What have you got? Any of the entry level DSLR’s will work great, I started with the Canon 600d which has now been replaced by the Canon 750d and that works great, it’s the camera I used in the beginners guide to macro photography

I think any camera that you can manually control the settings on will be best in the long run, you can go with Nikon, Sony, Canon whatever. It doesn’t matter as much as the internet says but once you start buying lenses your probably going to be stuck with that system so it’s worth working out what you like the feel of, I liked the canon button layout more so that’s what I went with.

Do I need all the equipment you carry in your YouTube videos?

No, I carry the majority of that mainly because I paid for it, so I want to use it and it’s no use at home, my legs would rather I didn’t take it all as well but they will get over it.

You need a camera with a lens, a battery and a memory card (and ideally a tripod)

This blog is about understanding what the numbers mean on the back of the camera. If you have any questions please comment on this blog and I will answer here or in a video. Part 2 should be more about the practical side. Maybe covering some accessories, let me know what you’d like to know.

What mode should I use?

I would suggest that you aim to use manual mode, this way you control everything but starting with the priority modes can be helpful:

Aperture priority – You choose the aperture and the camera picks the rest

Shutter priority – You choose the shutter speed and the camera picks the rest

Auto ISO – The camera choose what ISO to use

If you start with either of these you will learn what the bit your controlling does. E.g. Shutter priority, maybe you like long exposures this will help you work out what shutter speed you like. That means when you move across to fully manual you already understand some of the settings.

Manual – You control everything


Early morning mist over Ulverston


What do the settings mean?

ISO – Controls how sensitive the sensor is to light. It’s best to keep this as low as possible to avoid noise/grain. As it gets darker you may need to increase it

Aperture / F number – Controls the size of the opening in the back of the camera.
Large number = Everything in focus
Small number = Shallow depth of field
It’s a bit like when you squint to make everything clearer, the more you squint (Smaller opening) the clearer everything looks.

F8-F11 is generally the sharpest on most lenses

Shutter speed – Controls how long the sensor is exposed to light
Fast shutter speed – Good for freezing action – Waves crashing on rocks
Slow shutter speed – Good for smoothing action – The movement of the waves

Jpeg or Raw – I shoot Raw as it means I can choose how the image will look in Lightroom, it’s the file straight out of the camera with nothing applied to it.
Jpeg means the camera processes the image with a preset.

White Balance – Removes colour cast from a image. Our brain removes it but the camera doesn’t so it’s a weird one to get your head around. Lights indoors usually have a orangey colour (Tungsten) where as if you’re out at sunset it may be more blue (shade).
To start it’s probably best to leave it on auto. If you shoot RAW you can change this afterwards, if you shoot Jpeg you have to get it right in camera.

There are more things you can change but to begin with these are the main bits


What lens should I use?

Lets assume you bought a DSLR, they usually come with a 18-55mm lens, use that. Learn everything with that lens until you work out what you want next. If you find that you mainly photograph at 18mm and need wider you can get a wider lens or the opposite and you shoot at 55mm, you’re next step is a telephoto lens.

The good thing about landscape photography and lenses is that most of the time you will have the aperture at around F8 which means having the expensive lenses that open up to F2.8 doesn’t make as much difference, yes they will give a better quality, will you notice? Maybe not
I saved up and bought the Canon 24-70 2.8ii and it is my go to lens for most things, that was 3-4 years in, and once I was making money from photography


Stare down on Pike O Blisco. The Lake District (2)


Where should I focus?

I generally focus about 1/3 of the way into the scene, if you have your aperture set correctly everything behind should be in focus, I’ve found it’s better to have the things at the back of the photo slightly softer than the ones at the front. You notice the details on the things that are up close.

You can change the focus point and focus through the view finder or if you’re on a tripod, put the camera into live view and manually focus on the part of the scene you’d like to focus on


How do I know if the photo is properly exposed?

When you look through the view finder there is a dial at the bottom of the screen with 5 bars. (-3 . -2 . -1 . 0 . 1 . 2 . 3) you want to get the dial to point in the middle on 0.

It’s too bright
You have 3 choices:
Lower the ISO. Make the shutter speed faster or make the aperture smaller

It’s too dark
Do the opposite:
Increase the ISO. Make the shutter speed slower or make the aperture wider

What settings should I use?

Using a tripod – ISO 100 , F8, choose the shutter speed for the right exposure

Handheld – F8, 1/200 second , Choose the ISO for the right exposure

Will this give the best results every time? No, but it’ll be a good place to start


Your questions

Comment below with any questions you have and I will try and answer them either in this blog or in a YouTube video

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Updated video

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