Landscape photography is probably one of the most accessible forms of photography there is. All you need is a camera and somewhere to take photos of, which let’s face it, leaves us with endless possibilities.
However, it doesn’t matter if you’re taking photos of Mount Everest or your local park, there are a lot of fundamental settings you need to know if you’re going to take the best landscape photographs. One of the most important is shutter speed.
The shutter speed is arguably the most important camera setting we have to master when taking landscape photos (see also: The Best Settings For Mammal Photos). Understanding what it is, how it works, and what settings you need to choose will make you a better landscape photographer.
Today, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about shutter speed for landscape photography. We’ll also look at the other settings you should use for landscape photos. Let’s get started!
What Is Shutter Speed?
The most obvious place to start is with a brief description of what shutter speed actually is. To put it simply, the shutter speed refers to the amount of time your camera’s shutter is open and exposed to light.
The shutter speed essentially decides how much light is let into your camera. The longer the shutter speed, the more light that enters. Camera shutter speed is measured in seconds.
A larger denominator is much quicker than a lower denominator. For example, a shutter speed setting of 1/1000 is faster than a shutter speed setting of 1/10.
What Does Shutter Speed Do?
So, what does shutter speed do? Well, shutter speed determines how a moving object looks. In other words, it affects how blurry or focused an image is. This gives us more freedom to get creative with our shots.
In landscape photography, we can use different shutter speeds to freeze motion or create a blurred effect. A faster shutter speed captures a sharper image by limiting how much light enters the sensor.
On the other hand, a slower shutter speed allows more light in, which leads to something we call blur motion. An example of this in landscape photography can be seen when taking a photo of a waterfall.
Using a fast shutter speed, we can freeze the water and capture a sharper image. Alternatively, we can use a slower shutter speed and shoot a blurrier water image (see also “How To Capture The Beauty Of Water Scenes“).
Choosing The Best Shutter Speed For Landscape Photography
Unfortunately, there is no correct answer when it comes to choosing shutter speed settings for landscape photos.
Choosing the best shutter speed for landscape photography ultimately comes down to the creative decisions you make as a photographer and what you want to achieve.
However, there are a few useful things you should know. Generally speaking, most landscape photographers seek a sharp image where everything is in focus.
For this type of photo, a quick shutter speed is a good option. For the sharpest photographs, you might want to use a shutter speed setting of 1/500 or above depending on your camera.
Slower shutter speeds are your best option if you want to blur moving elements in your photograph like a waterfall or the sea. For this type of photo, use a much slower shutter speed and a tripod. 1/10 or thereabouts is usually the best setting you can use.
One thing we will also say is never stick with the same shutter speed. Get creative and experiment with different shutter speeds to see what you can capture.
Other Camera Settings You Need To Think About
There are other settings you need to think about when taking landscape photographs. Two of the most important that work hand in hand with shutter speed are aperture and ISO.
We’ve detailed both below so that you can understand how to take the best photographs.
Like shutter speed, there aren’t any set rules when it comes to choosing the best aperture settings for landscape photography. However, generally, in landscape photography, photographers try to maximize the depth of field and sharpness of their photos.
This means working in a specific aperture range to achieve the desired look. Typically, you can use an aperture setting of f/16 to capture the sharpest and clearest landscape photos.
At f/16, everything in your foreground and background will be in focus. This provides you with a good balance of depth of field and sharpness. f/8 and f/11 work well too.
ISO doesn’t typically come into play too much in landscape photography unless you’re shooting at night and don’t have a tripod. However, it is an important setting to understand.
If you have a tripod, you can probably use an ISO setting of 100 and opt for a longer shutter speed if you need to add any brightness. This will reduce the noise in your photograph.
If you’re shooting without a tripod or have a limit on your shutter speed, increase the ISO as much as you need to, but just remember that it will add more digital noise to your shot. How much ISO you can use will vary from camera to camera.
In this post, we’ve shown you the basic settings you can use when taking landscape photographs.
We’ve told you what shutter speed is, how it works, and which settings to use, as well as how you can use the right aperture settings and ISO to take photos that have a large depth of field and good sharpness.
All you have to do now is grab your camera and experiment with the different settings. The shutter speed you use will change depending on the creativity of your shot and what you hope to achieve.
Frequently Asked Questions
In photography, the aperture is the opening of a camera lens’s diaphragm. This opening allows light to pass through. Calibrated in f/stops the larger the aperture, the larger the depth of field in a photograph.
ISO is an important camera setting that a photographer can use to make a photograph brighter using digital light.
Most commonly used in low-light conditions, the higher the ISO, the brighter an image. However, the more ISO used, the more noise a photo will contain.
Some of the most important things you need for landscape photography include: a camera, a telephoto lens, a good backpack, a tripod, lenses, and filters.