Shoot dramatic portraits in epic landscapes
THE REAL MAGIC OF CREATING a self-portrait in the landscape is that your time spent shooting isn’t just in pursuit of an incredible image, it also creates a day you’ll always remember. Whether you’re hiking to the top of a mountain, or exploring the shallow depths of a (bitterly cold!) lake, you’ll come away from the day with more than just the photo – you’ll also have a new memory of doing something amazing.
Find the right location
Standard portraits are normally shot with either a 50mm or 85mm lens, but with portraits in the landscape the surroundings are just as important as the person. Use a wide-angle lens, such as a 20mm, to capture the magnificent views you’re surrounded by and give the image context.
Don’t forget to exercise common sense when you’re shooting in potentially challenging conditions. If you’re visiting an unknown location with unpredictable weather then make sure you take plenty of warm layers. A flask of hot tea or coffee doesn’t go amiss either.
Set up your camera
One of the main difficulties with shooting a self-portrait is that you’re not behind the camera to quickly make small adjustments. Setting up a relatively simple shot can eat into your shooting time. The key thing you need to worry about is ensuring that your self-portrait is completely in focus. To do this, set up your tripod where you’ll be shooting from. Then, taking your camera with you, walk out to where you’ll be standing, turn around and take a pic of the tripod using your
camera’s autofocus mode. Walk back and mount your camera on the tripod, switch to manual focus and input the AF settings. Don’t be afraid to fire off some test shots to double-check that your figure is in focus so you can get a perfectly crisp shot.
In terms of aperture, you’ll need to straddle the line between landscapes and portraiture. While you don’t want the wide aperture that’s usually used for the latter (as this will just reduce your background to bokeh), you also won’t want too large a depth-of-field, as you’ll need a swift shutter speed. Use an aperture of f/11 to balance the scales appropriately. If you’re shooting at midday then the light should be bright enough for a low ISO, but don’t be afraid to take it higher if you’re trying to capture a dramatic sunrise or sunset. You’re going to be ruled by how long you can stand still for, so you don’t really want to push your shutter speed anywhere above 2sec at an absolute maximum.
Above The cool blue tones of this image contrast against the red dress, creating a dynamic shot.