7 Landscape Photography Tips
Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointmentAdam Ansel
Great landscape images are very seductive. They can transport the viewers to the scene; they can feel the warmth of the desert or the crisp mountain air.
Several people live vicariously through various landscape photographers. They can transport viewers to the exotic places or capture the beauty of nature. This kind of photography can showcase different settings from the busy marketplaces to scenic vistas in foreign countries. However, it can also offer the viewers a sense of time, space, or mood.
Professional landscape photographers develop distinct settings which help to highlight features or of illustrate stories a particular environment. These photographs can immerse the viewer in perspectives and worlds they may not ordinarily see.
It does not matter if you’re a beginner or a seasoned photographer, many photographers want to learn how to shoot excellent landscape images. Once you capture some sunset and sunrise shots, you may think you already know how to do it best.
You get out into the wild on a crisp early morning, and try and capture some fantastic seascape or dramatic mountain scene. Suddenly it is not that easy. Landscape photography needs more than just setting up and waiting for a shot. Sometimes, you need to go back to a particular scene 4 or 5 times to get the shot you need.
You may be one of those who’ve stopped to admire and photograph sweeping fields or majestic mountains. But when you take a look at your shots, they may turn out undramatic or dull.
Therefore, you might be asking “How do I get perfect shots?” or, “I think landscape photography is a complex practice ?” This post will answer these crucial questions and a few more hopefully. The reality is, landscape photography isn’t difficult, but it requires passion and dedication.
It’ll often force you to wake up before sunrise, staying out late in the evening, or even early hours of the morning. Also, it requires a strong understanding of your gear. Let us take a look at seven landscape photography tips to help you take excellent landscape images.
1. The ‘Magic Hours.’
Beautiful landscape images are usually determined by the quality of light they were taken in. As a result, photographers like to shoot very early in the morning or late in the afternoons when the sun is lower and less contrasty and usually displays a subtle color palette of the moody hues.
The ‘magic hours’ are the hours before dusk and after dawn. If rising at dawn does not sit well with your idea of a relaxed weekend, do not panic – there are several valuable landscape opportunities throughout the day.
Sunset (and an hour or so just before) and sunrise (and an hour or so after) are the best times of day for shooting beautiful landscape images with spectacularly colorful skies. Watch the forecast beforehand and always try to avoid cloudy or overcast days – clear skies with just a smattering of the clouds often develop the most colorful skylines. Stay out late or set an early alarm and be on site ready to capture vibrant, moody skies just as the sun sets or rises.
2. Shoot in RAW
Some new photographers are more comfortable shooting JPEGs. But, it is always great to shoot landscapes using RAW quality setting of your camera, since the resulting pictures will contain much more ‘information.’
Therefore, it will give you more scope to decrease or increase the exposure or enhance the colors and tones in Adobe Camera Raw or a similar RAW processing software later, without compromising image quality.
3. Map Out The Best Locations
You should never head out on the landscape shots in new places without proper directions; use maps such as the Ordnance Survey Landranger series. Before you start your journey, use your OS map to do a reconnaissance of the entire area you’re planning to photograph.
OS maps are imperative, since they enable you to working out elevations, plan your route, and exactly where the lakes, mountain peaks, and the scenic spots are, which trail or road you will require to reach them, and the best positions to photograph them. So, once you arrive at the scene, all you have to think about is taking excellent pictures.
4. Follow The Light
Landscape photography is all about maximizing the light. You should shoot not only at an appropriate time of day but also at the right time of year. Late evening sunsets and early morning sunrises are best, as they produce softer, more colorful light with longer shadows which will provide your landscape shots extra dimension and depth.
5. Depth Of Field
Several landscape photographers want images which appear sharp throughout the area, so that elements of the foreground interest, look as sharp as the distant horizon e.g. a rock in a lake.
It can be achieved easily using the principles of the depth of field, whereby the smaller the aperture you use, like f/22, the larger the area before and beyond a point of focus also appear sharp.
Besides, this principle can be taken one more step with the hyperfocal distance focusing. In general, when you are using small apertures you will have to compensate using slow shutter speeds, so it’s important to (know how to) use a tripod.
6. The Golden Rules Of Composition
Great landscape shots will always include at least one or all of the three major principles of composition: the golden spiral, the rule of thirds, or the golden mean. Many landscape photographers use the rule of thirds; the frame is divided by the equidistant lines – two horizontally and two vertically, developing four points where all lines meet. Placing your points or subject of interest on these intersections establishes a good sense of balance.
The golden mean uses two lines to dissect the frame into three triangles. One runs from one corner to the opposite corner, the other from the top or bottom corner to the dividing centerline. Thus, it divides the frame into diagonals and works very well as an aid to composing simple lines, abstract patterns, and architecture.
The golden spiral is an infinite arc that runs through the frame. Placing shapes in landscape hedgerows, petals or winding rivers along any section or part of the spiral line will create depth and offer an additional dimension to your shots.
7. Always Review Your Shots
Unless you are photographing a once-in-a-lifetime or a split-second moment, there is no reason why you should not check your images after you have taken them – even if you just look at the first one in a long sequence.
The essential tools for this are histogram display and LCD screen of your camera. You can quickly check your framing and composition using the screen, and even make basic checks on color to ensure the correct use of white balance.
Checking the frame is important especially if the viewfinder of your camera does not provide 100% coverage since you might find a stray figure or branch has appeared at the edge of the frame. So, you will have enough time to re-shoot.