Landscape photography is an incredible way to enjoy both your camera and the landscape you’re hiking in. However, there are obstacles to achieving great landscape photos as you attempt to capture the scene before you. Here are 10 tips to help you succeed in your next adventure and master landscape photography.
Table of Contents
Find the right light
Good lighting is crucial in landscape photography, as it can make or break an image. The best times for landscape photography are generally during the golden hours, which are the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. The light is softer and warmer during these times, which can create beautiful, moody landscapes.
However, don’t be limited by these times as landscape photography can be very rewarding throughout the day, especially if there’s a storm or overcast sky. I often seek out windy, wet locations to capture the atmosphere of the location. this can work especially well on the coast where the evidence of the adverse weather is easy to photography.
Use a tripod
Landscape photography often requires long exposures, which can result in blurry images if the camera is handheld. Using a sturdy tripod can help keep your camera steady and ensure that your images are sharp and clear. You’ll want to capture your landscape images at around F11 to ensure most of the scene is in focus, and this will often require a tripod, especially if you’re using filters such as ND grads or a polarising filter.
Along with the tripod, make sure you have a shutter release cable or use the 2 second timer built in to your camera. This will ensure you’re not in direct contact with your camera when the shutter is released.
Choose the right lens
Different lenses can have a big impact on the look and feel of your landscape images. Wide-angle lenses are great for capturing expansive views and grand landscapes, while telephoto lenses are better for isolating specific elements in the scene.
The beauty of using a telephoto lens in the landscape is that the compression on the lens helps to isolate subjects and create minimalist landscape photos.
I tend to use a mid telephoto range for my landscape photos, so the scene doesn’t appear too wide, making it more relatable for people when they view the photo. The human eye sees at approx 17mm, but this varies from person to person.
Get the right exposure
Properly exposing your landscape images is crucial for capturing the full range of tones and colors in the scene. Using a camera’s exposure compensation feature can help you fine-tune the exposure to get the desired effect. Keep an eye on your camera’s histogram so you make sure you don’t blow out your highlights or crush your shadows too much. Remember, it’s much easier to recover shadow areas than highlights.
To learn more about how to expose your image correctly, read this blog post
Experiment with composition
Composition is an important aspect of any photograph, and it’s especially important in landscape photography. Try using elements like leading lines, the rule of thirds, and symmetry to create visually appealing compositions.
Look for points of interest in your scene that will help to tell the story in the scene. When I capture a landscape photo I am always trying to build the photo so that the viewers eye is led through the photo, as this helps to keep people looking at the photo for longer.
Changing your perspective can completely transform a landscape photograph. Instead of just shooting from eye level, try getting low to the ground or climbing up high to get a different perspective on the scene.
If you’re using a tripod, try lowering it to almost ground level to give you more foreground in your photographs. A simple adjustment like this can make a huge difference.
Include a focal point
A focal point is something that draws the viewer’s eye into the image and gives the photograph a sense of direction. In landscape photography, this could be a tree, a rock formation, or even a person. It’s very important to make the focal point clear and crisp so that the eye is led in that direction when a person views the image.
Using a person in a landscape photo can help direct the eye of the viewer, as the human eye will naturally move to where the person in the photograph is looking. Make sure you understand what your photo is about and use the focal point to direct the eye.
Shoot in RAW
Shooting in RAW format allows you to capture all of the data from the image sensor, which gives you more flexibility in post-processing. This can be especially useful in landscape photography, where you may need to make adjustments to the exposure or color balance of an image.
RAW photographs capture millions more colours than JPEG images, giving you a much greater dynamic range to help balance the exposure and the colours from the location.
Filters can be a great tool for landscape photographers, as they can help you control the light and colour in your images. Polarizing filters are particularly useful for reducing reflections and increasing the contrast of blue skies, while graduated ND filters can help balance the exposure of a scene with a bright sky and a darker foreground.
Use the camera’s base ISO
Your camera will have various settings for ISO. The ISO setting determines the sensitivity to light of the camera, so the higher the ISO the more sensitive it is to light. However, the trade off is that the higher ISO settings will produce digital noise that can ruin your image.
Digital noise can be especially problematic for landscape photographs as you may with to edit the photograph more rigorously than other images, such as bringing out the shadow detail. This is very difficult if the image has a lot of noise as it becomes very visible.
So, to prevent digital noise you need to use the cameras lowest ISO, such as 100. (APSC cameras will have a base ISO of approx 160 or 200). This eliminates the noise levels and enables you to edit the photos with far more flexibility.
Edit your photos
Post-processing is an important part of landscape photography, as it allows you to bring out the best in your images. Experiment with different edits to see what works best for your photographs, but be sure not to over-edit and lose the natural beauty of the landscape.
Using presets can make a huge difference, and save you time. To download presets for Lightroom or Capture One, click here
Learn more about enhancing your photographs with presets here