Landscape photography is a challenging genre to shoot, especially if you want to get great photos. But with a few simple tips, you can improve your landscape photos significantly.
In this post I’ll share some of the best landscape photography tips out there.
1. Shoot During The Golden Hour
Landscapes come to life when photographed during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset.
A large part of landscape photography is utilizing the available light to its fullest potential, and during the so-called ‘golden hours,’ this is exactly what you want to do. Because sunlight must pass through a denser atmosphere when it is low in the sky, it absorbs more of the blue wavelengths and instead emits a lovely, warm red light that illuminates the landscape. Images captured during the golden hours are especially appealing because of our natural preference for warm colors. Landscape photography benefits greatly from using natural light, especially when shooting in the late afternoon or early evening. Getting up early and staying out late to see the twilight is your only real drawback.
Top Tip: Auto white balance can sometimes neutralize the desired warm colour cast produced from low angled sunlight. To avoid this, either set the white balance manually to around 5600 – 6000 Kelvin or shoot in RAW format and adjust the colour temperature using the slider in Adobe Camera RAW during processing.
2. Keep Things Sharp
Ensure your landscape photographs are razor-sharp by using sound photographic technique.
Once you’re in front of an amazing scene, it’s simple to start snapping away without really thinking about what you’re going to capture. Spend some time putting a tripod together for your camera. This will slow down your approach, which is a good thing because it allows you to focus on optimizing the entire photo, including the composition. Use an f/16 or smaller aperture to get the best front-to-back sharpness. Photographing a scene with interest in both the foreground and backdrop necessitates careful framing. For the finest image quality, keep the ISO at 100 or 200. Because of the slow shutter speed that results from having a low ISO and a tiny aperture, it’s a good idea to start utilizing a tripod.
Top Tip: Use a remote release and mirror lock-up to reduce camera shake. Using the latter will eliminate any’mirror slap’-induced internal vibrations, which might produce blurry images while shooting at slow shutter speeds. Instead of hitting the shutter button by hand to prevent camera wobble, use a 2 second interval timer if you do not have a remote release.
3. Choose The Right Focal Point
In order to keep the viewer’s attention and improve composition, use a clear focal point.
A photograph’s strongest aspect – the focal point – frequently draws our attention when we look at it. If a tree or building stands out from the rest of the scene, this will grab the viewer’s attention right away. A delicate focus point can be established by the movement of light and shadows on the landscape or a sliver of sunshine shining only on portion of the subject. On the other hand. Similarly, color can be used to great success to draw attention to something. When paired with blue or green, warm, bold colors like red or yellow pop. Your photographs will be void of structure and composition if they don’t have a strong focal point. Include a strong point of interest in your landscape photographs to help elevate your photography skills.
Top Tip: Take into account where you want to put the subject of your photograph in relation to the entire frame. When it comes to framing your photo, using the ‘Rule of Thirds’ is a tried-and-true method of getting the main subject off-center. Place the topic on an intersection where two lines cross and visualize the frame being divided into thirds vertically and horizontally.
4. Maximize Your Depth Of Field
A large depth of focus is almost always the best choice for photographing landscapes. Alternatively put:
Your goal is to have as much of your scene as possible in sharp focus. In order to do this, simply choose a big f-number (such as 11 or 16) on your camera’s aperture setting. Because the bigger the depth of field in your photographs, the narrower the aperture.
Smaller apertures result in less light hitting your camera’s sensor, so be aware of that. To make up for the small aperture, you’ll need to increase your ISO or decrease your shutter speed (or both).
If you’re photographing landscapes, there are occasions when a short depth of field produces excellent results. A lot of finesse is required to pull it off.
5. Think Foregrounds
Using this simple approach will help your landscape photos stand out from the crowd:
Consider your composition’s foreground very carefully…
and be certain to incorporate intriguing details.
By doing this, you provide viewers with a way into the photograph. You also add a layer of complexity, which is always welcome.
6. Consider The Sky
When taking pictures of landscapes, keep an eye out for the sky.
In most landscape paintings, the foreground or sky is the most prominent feature. And if you don’t contain at least one of these elements, your photo will be uninteresting.
Begin by looking up at the stars. If the foreground is boring and lifeless, don’t let it take over your shot. Instead, place the horizon in the upper third of the frame.
In contrast, if the sky is packed with intriguing cloud patterns or vibrant hues, let it be! To draw attention to the skies, place the horizon at the bottom third of the frame.
(Also, think about using filters or post-production techniques to improve the sky.) Use a polarizing filter, for example, to enhance color and contrast.)
7. Capture Movement
Landscapes typically conjure up images of quiet, inactive surroundings in the minds of most people. Landscapes, on the other hand, are rarely perfectly still; capturing this movement will enhance your image’s drama and mood. In addition, you’ll produce a topic of conversation.
On the other hand, how can you depict motion in a landscape?
If you want to concentrate on something other besides moving clouds, you can try listening to the wind in the trees or waves on the shore. Shutter speeds as long as many seconds are needed to capture this type of action.
Slow shutter speeds mean more light hitting your sensor, so you’ll need to use a smaller aperture or an ND filter to compensate. If you can, shoot in the early morning or late evening when there is less light.
8. Work With The Weather
The weather can have a dramatic effect on a scene, so timing your shot carefully is critical.
When a newbie photographer sees a sunny day, they often assume it’s the perfect time to take their camera out for a walk. But if it’s raining or overcast, you could have a higher chance of getting a moody shot with ominous overtones if you’re out and about.
Observe storms, wind, mist, spectacular clouds, and the sun piercing the gloom, as well as rainbows, sunsets, and sunrises. And don’t just sit around waiting for a clear, sunny day. Work with the weather as it is.
9. Think About Horizons
This is an older tip, but it’s still useful. When composing a landscape image, think about the horizon from two perspectives:
Is it on the money?
While photos can be straightened in post-production, getting it correct in-camera is preferable.
+ Where does the horizon line up with the camera? Instead of in the center of the frame, use a rule of thirds gridline for the horizon. Even while rules are designed to be violated, I’ve found that the rule of thirds usually works well with landscape photography.
10. Get Close To Your Subject
The ability to get up close and personal with your subject when shooting with a wide-angle lens is one of the advantages of employing one. Exaggerating the foreground and accentuating textures and patterns will make it much more appealing.
A wide angle lens allows you to go so near to your subject that you might as well be touching it with your bare hands. There will be some blur, but don’t be alarmed. Focus stacking or using a narrower aperture such as f/16 to get everything in focus are two ways to get around this problem.
If you like a more dynamic result, simply leave the foreground elements fuzzy.
11. Think Outside The Box
In photography, it’s a good idea to occasionally step outside of your comfort zone. It can alter your perspective on the world and inspire you to use your imagination in ways you never have before.
Try using a telephoto lens instead of your usual wide-angle lens if you regularly shoot with one. If you’re used to shooting exclusively with your hands, give using a tripod a shot.
Of course, if you want to go even further outside the box, you can experiment with different types of photography, such cityscapes or even candid street photography.
12. Create A Starburst Effect
Shooting directly into the sun can be challenging, but there are moments when it pays off handsomely, especially if the sun is hidden behind a tree, a mountain, or some other interesting structure. There will be an amazing starburst as a result!
When used properly, the amazing impact of starbursts can take your photo to the next level. As a result, your landscape photographs will have a richness and color that complements the foreground and makes them stand out.
Get rid of your filters, switch to manual mode, and set your aperture to f/16-f/22. Then, position the sun such that it is directly against the edge of something in your scene, and shoot for between one and two seconds with a 1-2 second exposure.
Do not be apprehensive about attempting this novel photographic approach; practice makes perfect.
13. Be Patient and Willing to Work Hard
Nearly all of the stunning photos you’ve seen on social media were not created with a single click of a mouse. It’s not uncommon to need a lot of patience and attention in order to get an amazing landscape image.
Landscape photography needs a great deal of forethought. When planning a shoot, think about where you want to go and what you want to capture on film. This may necessitate frequent trips back to the same spot over the course of several days, weeks, or even months in order to reach your goal.
Even if you only go out to photograph the Northern Lights, you’ll need to put in significant effort just to get there. To begin with, you may have to stand outside in the freezing cold for an extended period of time in order to see the Aurora. You’ll also have to choose a composition and set up your camera in the dark! There are times when the Northern Lights don’t emerge at all, and there are nights when they do, but your foreground is inappropriate.
In other words, be patient even if you have an image in mind that you’d like to record. You’ll have the right opportunity to do so in the future.
14. Use Simple Compositions
Avoid needless clutter and distractions to keep your compositions clean and straightforward.
When we stand in awe, camera in hand, ready to record that magical moment, huge views may look amazing to us, but they don’t always translate well into a single photograph. Instead of trying to fit everything inside the frame, choose the most significant part of the image and emphasize it using secondary aspects like lead-in lines and the sky. This may entail switching from a wide angle lens to a regular or short telephoto lens in order to eliminate everything that isn’t essential to the composition of the image. Images that have been pared down to their core necessities have a higher visual impact.
Top Tip: Good backgrounds are necessary for all themes, but the main focal point should not be overwhelmed or dominated by the surrounds. If there is too much sky or a boring foreground, the subject will be dwarfed and lose its effect. Composition is all about finding the correct balance between the front and background elements.
15. Use Filters
Use ND grad and polarizing filters to adjust the density of the image.
When everything can now be ‘made right’ or improved using computer software, there is still a compelling rationale for capturing the image correctly in the camera rather than using post-processing. There are occasions where it’s difficult to capture detail in both light and dark sections of a photograph, but an ND grad filter makes it possible to manage exposure such that fine details are captured throughout. With digital imaging, you can’t get the same benefits of polarizing filters in terms of reduced glare and added punch to your photographs, so if there’s one filter you should have in your luggage, make it this one. They are usually circular screws, but linear variants are available as well, which fit into a filter holder.
Top Tip: Use a polarizing filter to decrease atmospheric haze, which increases the saturation of colors and gives the image more oomph. The greatest results are obtained while shooting with the sun at an angle of 45 degrees to the camera. However, when using a wide-angle lens, be on the lookout for inconsistent polarization across the image.
16. Think of Your Photos as a ‘Story’
For an effective landscape shot, there must be a beginning, middle, and end like in a good novel.
The foreground, middle ground, and background are all parts of a landscape.
This can assist you in better composing your images. Naturally, this simplified approach to composition does not apply to all photographs, but for the majority, it is an excellent technique to “construct” your images from the front to back. In doing so, you’ll develop a sense for composition, linking the foreground and background together in a seamless way. Using the foreground feature to draw the viewer’s attention to something in the intermediate distance, and then lastly the backdrop, is one approach to accomplish this. You may also want to focus on finding foreground and middle interest to complement the background rather than overpower it if that’s the case.
Top Tip: Use a wide-angle lens for this method of composition so that you can capture enough of the foreground and backdrop. Only thing to watch out for is shooting too wide because it distorts the perspective and makes background features appear much smaller.
17. Be Brave with the Weather
Go out when it’s cloudy and take a chance on the weather.
Landscape photography is influenced greatly by weather conditions; while blue sky are comforting, they don’t add much interest to your images. Drama is required, such as dark, gloomy sky or shards of sunshine piercing through dense rain. To be able to take pictures like these, you have to be willing to accept failure and the potential of getting wet. Because the sun may only appear for a few seconds at a time, you must be prepared with your camera and be ready to photograph when it does. You may have to wait for a long time before you see any results, and you may only be awarded on a few instances. However, these are one-of-a-kind moments that only you can capture, making your photographs one of a kind and atmospheric.
Top Tip: A great tip for planning your shoot is to become proficient at reading the cloud patterns. Before sunset, look for a clearing in the western sky. The sun will sometimes peek out from behind the clouds for a brief period of time. Transient light is best captured when the sky is clear and the clouds are continually shifting, allowing for brief bursts of sunlight.
18. Use Lighting To Create Depth
Create shadows using side lighting to expose form and provide depth.
Starting out in photography, we’re typically taught to shoot with the sun in our backs, but that’s a bad idea when trying to capture a landscape. Front lighting creates an unnaturally flat and two-dimensional appearance to the environment. As a result of the shadows falling directly behind the subject, the details in the background are obscured from view. If you merely turn your camera such that the sunshine enters from one side, you will notice a huge difference in how your scene will seem. Shadows now cover the entire frame, revealing the elements of the landscape’s shape and form and aiding in the creation of an optical illusion of depth.
To Tips: The longer the shadows are, the more of the landscape may be seen while the sun is setting low in the sky. You should avoid shooting landscapes in the midday sun and go out early and late in the day if you want the optimum light.
19. Change Your Point Of View
To snap a picture, you pull up to a gorgeous overlook and park your car. Then you get out, grab your camera, turn it on, and walk up to the barrier. Then you lift the camera to your eye, rotate it slightly left and right, zoom a little, and then take your picture.
It’s something we’ve all done. However, this method rarely yields the kind of “wow” photo that so many of us desire.
Take your time when taking landscape photographs instead. Look for a different angle to take.
To begin, look for a different vantage point than the gorgeous overlook from which to shoot.
You can also experiment with other perspectives, such as getting down on the ground to photograph from a low angle or climbing to a higher altitude for a better view.
Investigate your surroundings and try out various points of view. You never know what you’ll find when you search!
20. Share Your Photos
What about all those photos you’ve snapped but haven’t done anything with? Instead of keeping your photos on your computer, why not share them with others?
Apps like Instagram make it simple to post your work to social media. In addition, desktop-based photo-sharing websites like Flickr and 500px make it easy for people to find your work.
Setting up your own website is an option if you want everything in one location. You’ll be able to decide exactly how your work is displayed to a wider audience if you do this.
So there you have it! Those are my top 20 tips to quickly improve your landscape photography. I hope you’ll find them useful. Have you got any other tips and tricks up your sleeve? Leave a comment below!