Shooting Landscapes: John Oliver Cabin

Shooting Landscapes is what the article is all about.  Not everyone is cut out for photographing landscapes, but with some basic techniques you can become much better!  This article explains […]

Shooting Landscapes is what the article is all about.  Not everyone is cut out for photographing landscapes, but with some basic techniques you can become much better!  This article explains some of the basic rules of landscape photography that many professional landscape photographers go by. I have also provided a section of “how to take this shot” with the settings I used. Sometimes I find myself wondering how to take a shot like that and nothing more!

There is a golden rule when shooting landscapes many professional photographers swear by and without following these rules chances are you probably will not get the results like those pros do. The two times per day you can shoot are dawn and dusk. You have a window around 30 minutes before sunrise and 30-60 minutes after sunrise. The same hold true for the amount of time you have at dusk. There is a reason these are the most desirable times to shoot and it’s because this is the time you will get the soft warm glow everyone associates with a professional photograph. Now there are times throughout the day you will be able to get some excellent shots depending on the weather, lighting, etc….

When I set out on my mini vacation in June 2011 I researched Cades Cove in Tennessee. Cades Cove is a historic national park with many old cabins that have been well kept to preserve the original authenticity. There was one slight problem, only bicycle and foot traffic are allowed on the loop road until 10:00 a.m. every Saturday and Wednesday morning from early May until late September. Otherwise the road is open to motor vehicles from sunrise until sunset daily, weather permitting. Plan to spend between 2-3 hours when visiting Cades Cove if you are interested in visiting each homestead.

Now to my first stop on the loop, John Oliver’s Cabin. This cabin has been photographed so many times it’s hard to make your photograph stand out from the rest of the world. Of course I was the only one there with a tripod and I spent probably 30 minutes at this cabin. I took between 30-40 shots of John Oliver Cabin with different perspectives and settings on my camera. After all, I may not get another chance to photograph the cabin for quite some time.

Now for one of the photographs and the settings I used to capture this historic cabin.

John Oliver Cabin

John Oliver Cabin



  • Camera Body: Canon EOS 30D
  • Lens: Tokina 12 – 24mm Pro
  • Focal Length: 13mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Exposure: 1/40 sec at f/11
  • Tripod: Yes
  • Remote Shutter: Yes
  • RAW: Yes

Shooting landscapes, I already had my camera in Aperture Priority Mode and I knew what apertures I wanted to use. I took shots from f8 – f16. I really wasn’t interested in shutter speed for this type of shot. I want to control the (DOF) Depth of Field by my aperture instead. I always use a tripod when shooting landscapes with a remote shutter release to minimize any shaking involved. ISO 100 usually stays on my camera unless I’m shooting weddings or portraits that require me to move around quickly to capture those moments. Another thing to consider is I will always back off a couple of mm on either end of the focal spectrum to reduce the distortion of the lens if needed.


When composing landscapes I will usually try to follow the rule of thirds. If you look closely you will notice the cabin is following the rule of thirds and it’s balanced by a thick set of trees to the left. The fence posts are composed in such a manner that almost each one is pointing toward the cabin. This also serves as a purpose to create depth in a photograph and make it more interesting. Try to imagine the photograph with the fence not being there. When shooting landscapes and composing the image I find that I’m constantly in the 22-27mm range. I like to create depth in my landscapes and not just going up to the cabin and taking a picture. Sometimes to get the perfect composition you might end up in strange positions, but its well worth it in the long run. Besides, you are trying to make your photograph stand out slightly from everyone else!

This article is only intended to provide the basic technique to shooting landscapes and the settings used for “How to take this shot”.  Hopefully you will find this useful and be on your way to shooting landscapes like a pro!

Kevin Hays

About Kevin Hays

My name is Kevin Hays and I've always had an interest in fine art. From an early age I always had a pencil in my hand. At the age of 18 I was accepted as a professional watercolor artist and photographer. I enjoy drawing, painting, basketball, photography, woodworking, gaming, spending time with the family, advancing my education among other things. For a more detailed BIO you can visit