Intro to Landscape Design Photography Part 1
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Intro to Landscape Design Photography Part 1

May 18, 2018
Video Length:  47:41
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

You may have designed some great landscapes, but having high-quality photos of those designs is just as important for your portfolio as the plans themselves. While a professional photographer can be worth the cost, you may be interested in taking dynamic photos of your own designs. We're here to help feed that DIY spirit. Check out this webinar to pick up some helpful tips for using your camera and setting up shots to show off your space.

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)

  • Intro/TOC
  • The Camera
  • Manual Camera Settings
  • Tips on Taking Better Photos

0:00 – 4:39: Intro/TOC

This webinar is meant to be a prequel to our Landscape Architecture Photography: Composition, Light, and People webinar, presented by Sahar Coston-Hardy.

4:40 – 8:14: The Camera

Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR)

While not professional, point-and-shoot and newer phone cameras can achieve some great photos.


JPGs vs. raw photos (5:35)

Why we recommend raw format:

  • JPGs are processed and compressed in-camera.
  • Raw format is unprocessed, meaning the image will contain more data for you to work with in post-process.


Examples of photos in JPG and raw formats (6:33)

8:15 – 15:24: Manual Camera Settings

Basic camera settings: Lighting (8:15)

  • The triad, or Triangle, or Three Pillars of photography:
  • Create a balance of:
    • Aperture (aka F-stop)
    • Shutter speed
    • ISO


We recommend downloading and printing the image linked below, which is a great reference for aperture, shutter speed, ad ISO settings.


ISO (9:00)

  • Controls the sensitivity to light.
  • The more sensitive, the brighter the shot. But the higher sensitivity, the more noise in the photo.
  • Ideally, you’ll want this setting as low as possible. In most cases, ISO under 400 will give you a clean shot. Test your camera at different ISO settings.
  • If the light is lower and movement is involved, you may need to raise the ISO for quicker shutter speeds.


Examples of photos at different ISO settings (10:25)


Aperture (aka F-stop) (11:25)

Aperture is the opening of the lens.

  • Controls the light and depth of field within the photo.
  • Measured in fraction of “F” or “focal length,” so a lower f-number means a wider aperture opening


Aperture examples (12:41)

  • Not all lenses are the same! Get to know your gear.
  • The larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field but also more light coming into the lens.


Shutter speed (14:20)

  • The time during which the shutter is open.
  • Measured by fractions of a second.
  • The longer the shutter is open, the more light in the photo.
  • Fast objects warrant a fast shutter speed.

15:25 – end: Tips on Taking Better Photos

Research (15:25)

  • Be prepared for your shoot.
  • Check weather conditions. A sunny day will cause stark contrasts between light and shadow. Overcast will soften the light but also dampen bright colors.
  • If shooting in a public space, be aware of any events that may be taking place.
  • Do you want to be shooting the space with people?
  • Golden hours (the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset).


Gear check (18:27)

  • Bring a tripod.
  • Make sure your camera battery is full, and bring a backup.
  • Bring extra lenses and flash kit if you have them.
  • Have plenty of space for many photos.


Upon arrival (19:20)

  • How does the space make you feel?
  • Take a mental note of these feelings, and keep them in mind while shooting.
  • Take note of textures, forms, colors, and other design elements, and recognize their relationship with each other and how they influence the site as a whole.


Having trouble getting started? (21:13)

  • It’s extremely common to have photographer’s block when arriving at a site.
  • Expect distractions and extra stimuli – especially in public spaces.


 Get comfortable with the area and warm up. (21:50)

  • Change your common viewing angle.
  • Explore details.
  • Plan on being there for a while.


Don’t worry about wasting memory. (23:22)

  • Memory is cheap and reusable.
  • Take throwaway shots.


How to hold the camera (25:37)

  • Go for stability – have one hand under the camera.


Don’t just point the camera at your objects from a standing position. (26:29)


Composition (27:32)

  • Rule of thirds
  • Golden Ratio (Fibonacci Spiral)


Focal point & guiding lines (29:50)


Squinting or distorting your vision may help you find composition. (32:27)


To reduce movement, set a timer for 2 seconds. Then line up the shot and step away from the camera. (33:30)


Take a lot of photos! (34:35)

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Photos can be deleted.


Take multiple shots of the same position with different settings. (35:16)


Paul’s best tip: Have fun! (36:42)


Question: Which camera model is shown in this webinar? (38:27)

Answer: The Canon Rebel T3 series


Question: Do you recommend a wide-angle lens for site photos? How many lenses is enough for a shoot? (40:30)

Answer: A wide-angle lens is a common addition to a kit. It’s great for shots where you want to capture the scope of the entire landscape. As for number of lenses, it depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your photos. You might want a fisheye, a telephoto, or another type of lens. We recommend researching the different types of lenses and even renting a lens to try it out.


Question: What’s your take on post-processing vs. in-camera settings? Is there a mix you try to accomplish? (43:00)

Answer: Paul recommends doing both. Take different shots at different settings. Then use post-processing to fine-tune your photos.


Raw vs. raw + L format (45:30)


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