When we are asked to think of popular subjects for landscape photography, images of beautiful sunsets immediately come to mind. What outdoor photographer worth his or her salt doesn’t have at least a couple of images of the sun dipping below the horizon? In most people’s minds, it is an easy thing to capture; the beauty and scale of the event itself should carry the photo, with minimal interaction from the photographer.
But is this really the case?Unfortunately, it’s not. Unless you’re relying on luck alone, you’ll need to possess a few seeds of knowledge (eight in this case) to get you started in capturing that epic sunrise or sunset. None of these guidelines are difficult to comprehend, and can vastly improve your chances of properly capturing one of mother nature’s most incredible events.
1. Scout the Location
As tempting as it is to just show up at a convenient location and start shooting, you greatly increase your chances of success by planning the shoot in advance. The first thing you’ll want to determine is the best location from which to shoot.
Pick a location that is out of the way of road and foot traffic, where you’re unlikely to be disturbed. Go to the location in broad daylight before the shoot, and ensure your view of the horizon will be unobstructed and free of any hazards.
The most important factor after the location is time of the day. Obviously, this will vary depending on whether you’re capturing a sunrise or a sunset. Is there a storm coming? If your shooting time coincides with an approaching or recently-ended storm, the results can be staggering. Rain and storm clouds can add a dramatic layer of dimension to the scene.
Lastly, you can pinpoint the perfect time to shoot by using an online tool or smartphone app to determine precise sunrise and sunset times for your exact location. Many low-cost (and sometimes free) solutions are out there, includingSunSeeker, Daylight Free, and the excellent Photographers Ephemeris to name a few.
2. Sunrise, or Sunset?
If you’re familiar with color temperature, you’ll know that there is a slight difference in the appearance of light at sunset versus what you’ll see at sunrise. Early morning light tends to be cooler (higherÂ blue) than light in the late evening, which leans toward more warm colorÂ castings consisting of orange and red.
Since we know there are differing color temperatures at work here, you might need to adjust for this, depending on what feel you’re going for, either through warming or cooling filters, or adjustments in post-production to add or remove warmth into the color profile of the final photograph.
Be aware that physical filters used on your camera will degrade image quality slightly,Â due to the addition of another obstacle for light to pass through between your subject and your camera’s sensor
3. Plan your Shots
Another important step to accomplish before heading out is to plan out what you hope to achieve in the photo. What look are you going for? Â Is there a definitive subjectÂ lit by the sunlight, or will the sunset itself be the star of the show?
This is also a great time to determine any other special considerations, such as the possibility of shooting an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photo. If that’s the case, you’ll need to prepare your camera for bracketed exposures to capture the full range of tones in the scene. Since these type of scenes normally consist of bright spots and shadows, this is a great way to produce some truly dramatic images.
4. Gather the Proper Gear
Obviously you can’t capture the right shot without the right gear; so make sure you have it all ready to go before you head out. First and foremost, you’ll want to bring your tripod. Sunrises and sunsets are potentially low-light situations (depending on what part of the sunset you’re trying to capture), so you want a steady base for your camera.
Secondly, you’ll want to determine what lens to use for the shot.Â Even though beautiful landscapes can be captured using a 35mm or 50mm focal length (for sensors with a 1.6 crop factor – 56 to 80mm on a full frame system), a wide angle lens is preferred, including any zoom lenses that can capture a length of 25mm and below (40mm on a full frame system).Â If you have a prime lens at these lengths, you will have a better chance of catching an even sharper image.Â Using a wide angle lens will allow you to capture a more vast, sweeping portion of the scene.
Do you own and use screw-on filters for your camera?
Although using filters can degrade image quality a bit, due to the addition of another obstacle for light to pass through between your subject and your camera’s sensor,Â there are some that could be useful here,Â such as a GND (graduated neutral density) filter, to darken the upper portion of the sky a bit. Filters such as UV (ultraviolet) or polarizing filters may actually be a hinderance in these situations, and should be avoided.Â These filtersÂ reduce the amount of light coming in to the sensor, further increasing the required exposure time, which may not be idea if you’re trying to freeze any motion in the shot.
5. Use the Right Settings
Another item that can be set up before you arrive to your shoot is the settings on the camera itself.
Since you’re shooting landscape, you’ll want to use a smaller aperture such as f/8, f/11 or even higher to maximize the depth of field and capture a sharp image throughout. If you’re using a tripod, this isn’t a problem.
Although shooting in manual mode is the norm here, to allow for minor changes in exposure compensation, I prefer to shoot almost everything in A/Av (aperture priority mode). This way I can lock in my aperture and let the camera choose a proper shutter speed.Â Since low-light situations like this can confuse the camera and you run the risk of overexposure, you can use your camera’s exposure compensation settings to fine-tune the exposure a bit lower.
A low ISO should also be used such as 100 or 200, to ensure there isn’t a lot of noise in the final shot. Again, with a tripod this isn’t an issue, but if you’re hand-holding for the shot, you will need to bump the ISO up to get a shutter speed that’s fast enough toavoid a disappointingly blurry photo.
Another useful trick to increase warmth in your final shot is to set WB (white balance) to the “sunny” or “cloudy” setting instead of “auto”. Although you can certainly add warmth in post-processing, your initial image from the camera will be warmer if you make this adjustment now.
And of course, ALWAYS shoot in RAW! To a certain extent, shadows and highlights that are lost in a shot can be recovered in post-processing later.
6. Compose for Interest
Alright, the preparation is over, now we get to the fun part! Once you’re on location, and are ready to take the shot, you’ll want to make considerations for composition.
The most common error in shooting sunsets or sunrises is composing the horizon exactly in the middle of the photo. While this can work in some cases, it normally causes a bit too much symmetry and can make the picture uninteresting.
Take a moment to look the scene over; what part is the most dramatic? Are there any parts that aren’t as interesting of a focus?
Once you have identified that, simply compose the shot to include more of the most dramatic scenery. If you have an angry, cloudy sky that accentuates the sunlight, let that occupy the upper 2/3 of the scene. If you have an interesting foreground or landscape below the sun, and a less-intriguing sky, let that occupy the bottom 2/3 of the image. You want to draw the viewer into the horizon, and then let their eyes drift to the most dramatic part of the image.
7. Waiting for the Right Shot
If you already have experience shooting landscapes, you know that sometimes waiting is the name of the game. Because of the dynamics of natural lighting, a scene can completely change from one hour to the next, and sometimes even one minute to the next.
Now is the time to be creative! Try different exposure times, play with your exposure compensation settings for different tones. Let the clouds and sun change positions, and reshoot, or try a slightly different angle.
Maybe even allow different subjects to come in and out of frame, and shoot them in the foreground against the sunrise or sunset. The longer you’re at the location shooting, the more variety of shots you’ll end up with.
8. Don’t Leave Too Early
Lastly, one of the most common things you’ll hear about capturing sunsets, in particular, is to stick around after the sun dips below the horizon. This is certainly true, as the entire dynamic of a scene changes at this point.
Tones, colors and hues in the sky usually become more saturated and dramatic. You’ll need to allow for the loss of your main source of light, but it’s hard to deny some of the most beautiful images can be shot right after the sun is out of sight.
f you are anything like me, then you are always looking for ways to create something original in your photography – images that have not been taken and presented a thousand times before. But being truly original and creating photos that have real impact is the hardest thing of all. It seems there is nothing that hasn’t been done yet. Or is there?
In this article, I am going to show you a technique for creating interior photos that you will certainly not find in every other portfolio – photos that will turn heads for sure. The technique that I am referring to is called HDR Vertorama Photography.
By James Snow
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Earlier in the year I compared the EOS 5D Mark III and 6D, Canon’s least expensive full-frame cameras. Today I’m going to look at two other models that cause confusion: the Canon EOS 70D vs Canon 700D (Rebel T5i).
Note: North America readers will know the EOS 700D as the Digital Rebel T5i. EOS 700D is the European name for the same camera. It is called the Kiss X7i in Japan.
The confusion arises because many photographers, when buying a new camera, start by searching online for information. While there are lots of websites that list the differences between the two cameras, it isnâ€™t always easy to understand which of these matter to you.
The major differences
I’m going to start by looking at the major points of differentiation between the two models. It’s impossible to list them all, but these are the ones most likely to influence a buying decision:
Budget is an important part of the buying decision, and there is a sizeable difference in price between the two models. At the moment you can buy the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) body only for around $700 and the EOS 70D for about $1100 (body only prices, excluding tax). The difference isn’t really surprising considering the difference in specifications between the two models.
Bottom line: If you’re on a tight budget then the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) is the model for you, but not before considering the benefits of the 70D.
The sensor of the EOS 70D. Both cameras have an APS-C size sensor with a similar megapixel count.
Bottom line: The difference between the two models is negligible, and shouldn’t greatly influence your decision.
This is a big difference. Minor differences aside (and excluding AF in Live View or movie mode), the autofocus of the 70D is the same as that found in the more advancedCanon EOS 7D camera. It has 19 cross-type AF points (the more reactive ones) plus a transmissive LCD screen in the viewfinder that lets you configure different display options.
By contrast the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) has 9 cross-type AF points and a fixed viewfinder display. This diagram shows the difference between the two:
The autofocus arrays of the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) and 70D compared
The higher AF point count of the EOS 70D makes it better for shooting moving subjects, as there are more AF points to measure the focusing distance to the subject. It is also more likely that you can find a well placed AF point to use when photographing still subjects, without having to focus and recompose. This is useful when using prime lenses at wide apertures, where the margin of error for focusing is small.
The autofocus of the EOS 70D also excels when using the camera in Live View or movie mode. It uses new technology called Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus, the only EOS digital SLR to do so. This is mainly of interest to people who want to use the camera to shoot movies.
You can read about the autofocus performance of the EOS 70D in more detail in my article Understanding EOS Autofocus: The EOS 70D.
Bottom line: The autofocus performance of the EOS 70D is much better than that of the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i). If you want to buy an EOS digital SLR to shoot movies, the 70D currently has the best AF performance in movie mode.
The EOS 70D allows you to calibrate your lenses so they focus as accurately as possible. This is a feature found only on higher end Canon cameras and will appeal in particular to photographers who use prime lenses at wide aperture settings, where AF performance is critical. The EOS 700D (Rebel T5i) doesnâ€™t have this feature.
Bottom line: Autofocus micro-adjustment complements the more advanced autofocus of the EOS 70D. It is Canon’s least expensive camera with this feature.
The Quick Control dial
The Quick Control dial is one of the features that differentiates mid-range EOS cameras such as the EOS 70D from enthusiast level models like the 700DÂ (Rebel T5i). It is located on the back of the camera where it is easily moved by your thumb when holding the camera. The benefit of the Quick Control dial is that it lets you adjust exposure compensation and focus point selection easily while looking through the viewfinder. This speeds up the photo taking process and may make the difference between getting a shot and missing it. The cross keys on the EOS 700D (Rebel T5i)Â can be used while looking through the viewfinder, but are much harder to do so.
This diagram shows the difference between the two:
These photos show you how the Quick Control DialÂ (700D/T5i – left image)Â and (70D – right image above) cross keys influence the design of the back of the camera:
Another advantage of the Quick Control dial is that it lets you scroll very quickly through your images when playing them back on the cameraâ€™s LCD screen.
For me, the Quick Control dial is so useful that I never want to use another camera without it.
Bottom line: The Quick Control dial on the EOS 70D makes it easier and quicker to use in many situations. This is something you can only appreciate by trying the camera out, so make sure you do so before making a buying decision.
Size and weight
The EOS 70D isn’t a great deal bigger than the 700D/T5i, but it is heavier (755 grams/1.6 lbs. compared to 580 grams/1.3 lbs.). If you are intending to carry the camera around all day, then the lighter 700D/T5i may have more appeal. But it really is subjective, and this is where the hands-on comparison comes in again. I cannot stress the importance of trying out both models to see which one you prefer to handle.
Bottom line: Try before you buy, as preferences when it comes to size and weight are personal.
The EOS 70D has built-in Wi-fi, the EOS 700D/T5i doesn’t. The Wi-fi feature lets you:
- Transfer images to other Canon cameras with Wi-fi
- View saved images or operate the camera from a smartphone (the free app EOS remote is required)
- Print images using a Wi-fi printer
- Operate the camera remotely using EOS Utility (free software that comes with the camera) which lets you transfer photos wirelessly to your computer, something that photographers working in a studio may find useful
- Upload images to Canon iMage Gateway, a free photo online service for Canon camera owners(but not to photo sharing sites like Flickr or FTP)
- View photos on a television screen if you use a media player supporting (DLNA) Digital Living Network Alliance
You canâ€™t do any of those things with an EOS 700D/T5i, nor can you buy a Wi-fi unit for the camera.
Bottom line: If Wi-fi is important to you, then buy the EOS 70D. If you shoot tethered in a studio, remember you can transfer images to a computer using an extra long USB cable if your camera doesnâ€™t have Wi-fi.
The EOS 70D has an electronic level display that you can view on the LCD screen. It is useful for taking photos with a level horizon when you have the camera mounted on a tripod. There is also an electronic level display in the viewfinder to help you keep the camera level when shooting hand-held. The EOS 700D/T5i doesn’t have this feature.
Bottom line: The electronic level is a useful feature, especially for landscape photographers. However, if your budget doesn’t stretch to the EOS 70D, remember you can buy an inexpensive spirit level that fits in the EOS 700D/T5i’s hotshoe for landscape photography.
The EOS 70D can shoot at 7 frames per second (fps), the 700D/T5i is a little slower at 5 fps. How important this is depends on the subjects you shoot it is more likely to be of interest to those of you into sports and wildlife photography.
Bottom line: The more advanced autofocus and higher shooting speed of the EOS 70D makes it the better model for sports and wildlife photography.
There are lots of minor differences between the two cameras, so Iâ€™ve provided some links to in-depth reviews so that you can get more information before making a purchasing decision. Youâ€™ll also see some photos taken with both models. In the meantime, if you own or have used either of these cameras, why not tell us what you think in the comments. Why did you choose one or the other, and do you think you made the best choice?
EOS 70D reviews
EOS 700D/T5i reviews
Finally, if you want to ask owners of these cameras what they think, a good place to do so is the EOS magazine forum. It’s a high quality forum with lots of helpful members. You should also take a look at EOS magazine the most in-depth magazine for Canon EOS users you can buy.
More Reviews at: Digital Photography School » Cameras and Equipment
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