How to photograph vibrant summer landscapes

Seize the opportunity to add a splash of colour to your summer landscapes

Lavender field

Now is the time of year to get this landscape classic shot in the bag. Many lavender farms open their gates to the public when the plants flower during July and August, although the opening times don't typically tie in with the best light of early morning or early evening. A friendly chat with the farmer and the offer of a free print may be all it takes to get permission to shoot during these times.

Getting low and close to foreground plants with a wide-angle lens will enable you to make the most of the leading lines created by the rows of lavender. Take your time to find the most attractive sections of the field and look for something of interest on the horizon, be it a tree, the sun or an interesting sprinkling of clouds.

Lavender field

If you are shooting into the sun, then shooting with a smaller aperture can produce an attractive starburst effect. To avoid flare, fit a lens hood and be ready to shield the front element using your hand.

Follow good landscape practice for sharp shots: use a tripod, an aperture of f/11-16, mirror lock-up and trip the shutter with a remote release to avoid any unwanted vibrations ruining your shot.

Working with a tripod-mounted camera gives you the space to compose with care too, so there's no excuse for wonky horizons!

Top tip: How to balance the brightness

At sunrise and sunset, the contrast between the sky and the foreground will be too high to record detail in both. One option's to use a square graduated neutral-density filter to darken the sky.

To position the transition, press the camera's depth of field button as you look at the Live View screen. If hills and trees protrude into the dark section, ditch the filter and make two separate exposures – one for the land and one for the sky – then blend these later in Lightroom or Photoshop.

ND filter in use

This feature was originally published in Digital Camera Magazine, to subscribe, click here