Landscape photography is a popular genre among photographers for good reason. With landscapes, photographers can not only capture beautiful scenes for their memories but they can also create incredible, stunning artwork. In this article, we will provide some landscape photography tips to help you capture better landscape photography.
Shoot in a RAW File Format
One of the most important landscape photography tips is to shoot in RAW format because it captures all the data from the camera’s sensor, providing a greater amount of control and flexibility during post-processing. RAW files allow for adjustments in exposure, white balance, and color temperature without sacrificing image quality, unlike JPEG files that compress and discard some of the data. This extra data in RAW files also enables landscape photographers to recover details in shadows and highlights that may have been lost in a JPEG file.
Shoot in Manual Mode
Landscape photographers should shoot in manual mode because it provides complete control over the camera settings and allows for more precise and intentional shots. In manual mode, the photographer can adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings to achieve the desired exposure and depth of field. This is especially important when shooting landscapes where the lighting conditions can change quickly and dramatically. Shooting in manual mode also ensures consistency in exposure and allows the photographer to capture the scene exactly as they envisioned it. While it may take some practice to master, shooting in manual mode is a crucial skill for any landscape photographer.
Don’t Use The Automated Landscape Mode
Just don’t do it. Using landscape mode is like going to Supercuts; they’ll get the job done, but it won’t be pretty. Landscape mode typically closes down the aperture to increase depth of field, and will adjust the shutter speed to get a correct exposure. If you’re going to thrive in any photography discipline, then you’ll need to understand the Exposure Triangle and use Manual Mode to have a technical and artistic mastery over your camera and images.
Be Adventurous and Explore!
Walk around! Climb things! You need to explore your surroundings to discover the potential of the landscape you’re in. Don’t be afraid to take detours, to get close to the water, or to climb on rocks. Some of my most satisfying photos are a result of me trying new things. This landscape photography tip is one of the most important because without exploring, you never know what you’re missing!
1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 200
Photo by Joseph Cha | 1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 200
Challenge Your Composition
When taking landscape photos it’s easy to simply “capture the scene” and call it a day, but where is the reward in that? You need to challenge yourself to find better and more stimulating compositions. Don’t be satisfied with an image that everyone else has shot, challenge yourself to capture an image that’s unique. All of the technical landscape photography tips mentioned are less important than finding something unique and interesting to photograph.
Photo by Matthew Saville
Landscape Photography Composition Tips
We’ve created a full article on landscape photography compositions, so for the full guide, head over there. Here is a brief summary of the primary points:
Go Beyond The Rule of Thirds – The rule of thirds is one of the first compositional tools we learn as new photographers, but don’t let it limit you.
Look for Symmetry – Symmetry is pleasing to the human eye in general, and it works brilliantly in photography too.
Include an Interesting Foreground – Implementing a foreground will give your photo more depth and make it more interesting.
Have a Clear Subject – Busy photographs tend distract the viewer’s attention, so including a clear subject in your landscape photo goes a long way towards creating a good image.
Get Closer to the Ground – For an interesting perspective, get your camera down closer to the ground.
Use Reflections – Reflections help create balance and symmetry to landscape photos.
Be Patient in Landscape Photography
Landscape photography is unique in that you cannot simply cue the action and capture the moment; you have to wait. Sometimes this requires waking up at ungodly hours, hiking many miles, or sitting on your sandals with the crabs and clams for an hour (which I did to capture the photo above). Be patient, it’s easy to quit in the moment, but it’s well worth the captured image in the end.
Photo by Joseph Cha | 1/400 sec, f/16, ISO 200
It’s perfectly fine to shoot a lot of images, but don’t just “spray and pray!” Take your time, think about composition, exposure and visualize what you want your final image to look like. Also, if you shoot a lot of frames, then shoot a lot of frames from different angles or objects. Don’t just take the same photo a dozen times.
Shooting During the Best Times of the Day
The best times to photograph most landscape scenes is during times with directional light. This is often times golden hour at sunrise or sunset. However, you might also find unique opportunties during blue hour and night time. Each scene can look entirely different in different light, so do some research before heading out on your landscape photography adventures.
Edit Your Landscape Photos
Photo by Matthew Saville | Edited with the Landscape Photography Presets
Landscape photographers should edit their photos because post-processing can enhance the image and bring out the full potential of the shot. Even the most stunning landscape photo can benefit from minor adjustments to exposure, color, and contrast. Editing allows the photographer to fine-tune the image and bring out the details that may have been lost in the original capture. Additionally, editing can help create a more impactful image by emphasizing certain elements, adjusting the mood, or removing distractions. You might even want to shoot or edit them as black and white landscape photos.
With the right editing skills, a landscape photographer can turn a good shot into a great one. We’ve created a set of Landscape Photography Presets to speed up the editing process and to help you achieve various looks in a single click!
Show a Non-Photographer Friend Your Best Images
Photo by Matthew Saville
This is actually a tip that applies to every kind of photography: print some of your best photos and show them to a good (honest) friend. Because you are obviously pretty close to your pictures, (you took them), you can’t judge them as well as someone else could. Also you could make the mistake of focusing too much on the technical aspects of your image. Your friend who doesn’t know anything about the technical stuff probably won’t make that mistake.
Enjoy The Process of Capturing Landscapes
Photo by Matthew Saville
Landscape photography can be an agonizing experience, but it’s also extremely enjoyable if you approach it the correct way. Personally, I used to hate traveling alone and taking photos by myself. After a few times of going out alone, I began to find the entire process meditative, and I began to enjoy myself when I ventured out to take Landscape photos. As soon as I started to enjoy the process, my photos also improved significantly. If you ensure that you’re enjoying each experience, then all of these landscape photography tips will soon become second nature.
Know Your Gear
All of the landscape photography tips are useless if you don’t know how to use your gear. And I don’t mean own the best gear. I just mean learn what your equipment is capable of doing and what it isn’t. Figure out the limitations of your gear and try to find workarounds for avoiding them.
Here’s a list of essential landscape photography gear:
Full Frame Camera
Wide Angle Lens
Waterproof Camera Bag
For recommendations, see our list of the best landscape photography lensesand the best landscape photography cameras.
Understand Your Subject
Not all landscapes are the same, and having a good understanding of your subject will help you prepare and capture the best possible photos. Here are some common types of landscape photography that you’ll encounter, along with links to articles for more landscape photography tips for each particular subject or type.
Mountain Landscape Photography
Beach Landscape Photography
Lake Landscape Photography
Forest Landscape Photography
Winter Landscape Photography
Night Sky Landscape Photography (Astro Photography)
In conclusion, landscape photography can be a rewarding and challenging genre for photographers. Capturing the beauty of the natural world requires planning, skill, and the right equipment. By following these landscape photography tips, you can improve your skills and capture incredible results. Remember, practice makes perfect, so get out there and start exploring the beauty of the natural world with your camera.