Photography Cheat Sheet: Exposing for Landscapes

Still struggling with exposure settings for landscape photography? With today’s photography cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to get spot-on exposures by taking note of the histogram.

Previously, we shared some tips for getting your composition right when shooting landscapes. For today’s photography cheat sheet, it’s time to work on exposure with the help of histogram readings. Both elements work hand in hand to create landscape photos that are more than merely snapshots. So, if you’re working on getting better at shooting landscapes, we’re sure you’ll find these tips handy!

Today’s photography cheat sheet is actually part two of Digital Camera World’s helpful resource for mastering landscape photography. Now that you have an idea on how to make interesting compositions, this flowchart tells you how to set your camera to get spot-on exposures to match.

“Make friends with your histogram and you’ll never take a bad exposure again,” said Digital Camera World, and that applies to all kinds of photography. For landscape photography, the histogram will serve as your guide against overexposing and underexposing your shots. For starters, the flowchart suggests shooting in Manual mode with the ISO set to 100 and the aperture set to f16 (Sunny 16, anyone?). The exposure needle should be at the center. Leaving out the sky (for now), determine if the photo looks too dark, okay, or too bright. Decrease the shutter speed by up to a stop to brighten the photo, and increase it to darken the shot. Adjust as necessary until you get a shot that looks good on the screen.

Next is to check the histogram reading. If you’re not yet familiar with what the histogram is for, it is basically a graphical representation of the shadows, mid tones, and highlights in your shot. With that in mind, the photography cheat sheet above shows us how to read the histogram of our shots, how to compare it with what we see, and how to correct it by adjusting the shutter speed if necessary.

The bottom line? A spot-on exposure shows that the histogram is where it should be!

To learn more about the histogram and how to read it, we highly recommend this cheat sheet and this useful tutorial. Don’t forget to check out our cheat sheet database for more useful photography tips and tricks.