Most of us have had this experience: driving through a beautiful landscape, you make stops at every scenic overlook to take pictures sure to capture the beauty of what you see. However, when you get home and look at the pictures, you realize that they are less appealing. What went wrong? Why is it that all the elements that enthralled you at the time now look dull? Well, when looking at a landscape, our eyes will focus mainly on the enthralling elements ignoring the landscape. So when we pick our cameras and focus only on the alluring details, we end up with flat and boring photos. So if you are just starting out your photography career or hobby, read on, we will discuss different landscape photography tips that will help you take better landscape photos.
1. Start with the Right Gear
If used well, accessories and equipment can be a great aid in landscape photography. First, ensure that you have a tripod, a lens hood (you may need it if shooting in bright light), a flash (will help if you are shooting in shadow areas), a beanbag and a bag to carry the lenses and camera.
2. Maximize Your Depth of Field
This is one of the important tips for landscape photography that most photographers do not fully understand. Well, to make good landscape photographs, you will need to know what the depth of field entails.
We are not going to go into details, but it basically involves keeping all the elements of the landscape in focus to avoid reducing the depth. To keep both the foreground and the backdrop focused, choose a smaller aperture setting. But remember that the smaller the aperture, the lesser the light that will be hitting the image sensor. So you will have to compensate by lengthening the shutter speed or by increasing the ISO.
3. Follow the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is based on a theory that our eyes are mostly attracted to subjects that are not positioned at the core of a photo. As far as landscape photography goes, divide your frame into four imaginary lines (two crossing the scene horizontally and two vertically). Then ensure that there is something of visual interest at the places where the grid lines intersect.
So if you are photographing the horizon, move it along one of the lines you imagined within the frame. Just remember not to let the horizon split your image in half. Although the rule can sometimes feel a little cliché; we saw the need to include it in our list of landscape photography tips.
4. Use Leading Curves or Lines
Using leading curves or lines is also among the important tips for landscape photography. Look around for curves or lines that you can use to make a composition. Some good examples of lines and curves include walls, roads, paths, rivers, natural patterns, etc.
The human eye naturally follows lines and curves, so use this tip to your advantage.
5. Use Photographic Filters
Using filters is one of the important landscape photography tips that you should master. Filters can help you make good photographs in some circumstances. There are two different types of filters in landscape photography; the Neutral Density (ND) filters and polarizing filters. ND lets you reduce the light that enters the camera (useful during bright days) while polarizing filters helps in removing reflections from water, darkening the sky, enhancing color saturation and making foliage appear less shiny.
Polarizing filters are very important to landscape photographers, so ensure you are familiar with them.
6. Watch for the Golden Hours
This is a secret that we had to include in this landscape photography tips. If you ask most professional landscape photographers what time they make their photographs, they will tell you that they shoot around dawn and dusk. During these times, landscapes come alive; the light is not harsh on the subjects, contrast is greater, and the colors are vibrant.
This is the perfect time to exercise your photography skills. Have fun with shadows, silhouettes and sunset shots.
7. Frame the Scene
Framing the scene is also among the important tips for landscape photography. In this technique, the photographer adds interest to the edges of a shot. The easiest way to accomplish this is by including overhanging trunks/branches in the upper part of an image. Alternatively, you can frame the shot with a bridge.
8. Shoot in RAW
We also felt it necessary to include this one in our list of landscape photography tips. The debate of whether to shoot landscape photographs in RAW or JPEG is far from over; some photographers prefer shooting in RAW while others prefer shooting in JPEG. Well, it is true that JPEG files are smaller and will save you a lot of space but when it comes to flexibility, color, details, quality and exposure, shooting in RAW is the way to go.
9. Experiment with Aperture
Usually, the best aperture for landscape photography is around f16 to f22. The narrow aperture ensures that the entire photo is sharp (both from the foreground to the backdrop). Experimenting with a wider aperture may be a good idea if you need a shallower depth of field.
10. Work with the Weather
This is also another one of the important landscape photography tips. Most beginner photographers assume that a sunny day is the perfect time to take landscape shots, while there is nothing wrong with shooting on a sunny day, shooting on a cloudy day, threatening to rain might present you with the perfect opportunity to make photographs with ominous overtones and original mood.
Look out for storms, dramatic clouds, mist, light rays shining through dark clouds, etc. Work with the weather variations to create some of the best landscape photographs.
Landscape photography is not easy most of the time but if you are serious about it and willing to deal with harsh environments, unpredictable light, temperamental gear and physical obstacles then be ready for adrenaline-fueled experiences.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article on landscape photography tips. Remember; your comments, opinions, and suggestions are very welcome. Any personal tips for good landscape photography you’d like to share?