1 Level your shot
Compose your image and zoom in as much as you need for a tidy composition that isolates a focal point. To fine-tune your framing, switch on LiveView and access your virtual horizon to ensure that, most importantly, the horizon is level but also that the lens is level on the vertical axis; when shooting landscapes at longer focal lengths you’ll want the camera and lens level to avoid distortion.
2 Focus manually
Use manual focus to isolate the focal point itself. When shooting from a distance, you’re often cutting out any foreground interest so focusing directly on the most prominent feature in the landscape will ensure the whole scene is in focus. At this stage, make sure that image stabilisation is switched off because with the camera on a tripod having it turned on could actually introduce blur.
3 Camera settings
Set the camera to aperture-priority mode at f/11 with ISO 100. This should produce the sharpest possible results and a reasonably large depth-of-field, as well as no noise. Make sure White Balance is set to Daylight so if you’re shooting at sunrise or sunset, the camera is able to capture the colours in the sky without neutralising them, which is exactly what Auto White Balance would do.
4 Add filters
Even when shooting with a telephoto, you can use ND grads to maintain sky detail. The exact types of ND grads you’ll need to use will depend entirely on the landscape you’re shooting, but for this image I used a three-stop reverse ND Grad to capture the horizon line that’s brighter than the higher sky, as well as a four-stop soft grad to further reduce the contrast between ground and sky.
5 Adjust the exposure
With the image composed, settings dialled in and filters in place, it’s now time to refine the exposure using the histogram for help. If your camera offers an active histogram in LiveView turn this on but, if not, take a test shot and use the histogram review option to assess how much exposure compensation you need for a perfect exposure. This scene required 1.3 stops of overexposure.