Landscape photography is one of the most popular forms of photography; almost everyone with a camera or smartphone has taken a photo of a mountain, beach, or waterfall at some point. But if this genre seems easy to master, the reality is quite different.
When you start out as a landscape photographer, you often take a photo of what’s in front of you without giving too much thought. After all, there are so many ways to make a mountain interesting, right?
If you want to improve your skills beyond the occasional phase, you need to focus more on the stories in your images. And if you run out of ideas, don’t worry; We’ve listed nine sure-fire tips for landscape photography below. Let’s get straight to the point!
1. Use a primary lens
When you first get a new camera, you will usually receive a kit lens as part of the package. These lenses are great for getting started with taking photos, but since you can zoom in and out, you might find there is too much to choose from.
If this happens, you may be spending more time having fun with your camera than focusing on the scene in front of you.
When using a primary lens, you cannot zoom in or out. As a result, you will focus more on the composition. Primary lenses are also better suited for landscape photography as they can help you focus and only capture what you want, and they also tend to be sharper than zooms.
2. Keep it simple
A common mistake beginner photographers make is thinking that it is better to include more in the composition. However, this is not the case; if too much is happening, you will distract the viewer.
Landscape photography – and photography in general – is more about getting rid of what you don’t want. Take a moment to think about the story you want your photo to tell; for example, a single cabin surrounded by vast expanses of wilderness might express a sense of isolation.
By keeping your landscape photography simple and using negative space, the viewer will instantly know what you are trying to say through your art. As a result, your photo will become more memorable for them.
3. Consider the time of day
A lot of landscape photography relies on advanced planning, including thinking about what time of day you will be photographing. Lighting will completely change the mood of your photo, and taking photos at the wrong time of day can result in unwanted shadows or reflections.
If you are visiting a place popular with tourists, it is also worth choosing a time of day when you can avoid them. This way you can take your time to set up and organize the perfect layout. Plus, you won’t have to jostle yourself among crowds of people to get the same shot as everyone else.
4. Don’t overlook “bad weather”
Unless you’re trying to capture Mallorca in the middle of summer, “bad” weather is often the best time to get out and do some landscape photography. These conditions can make your footage more spectacular, and there is the added benefit of being on your own.
Of course, taking pictures in generally non-ideal weather conditions requires common sense; do not go if you are putting your life in danger and be sure to protect your camera gear. Weatherproof housings and lenses are a good idea, as are rain covers.
5. Include people or wild animals in your images.
The problem with many landscapes is that, while beautiful, the same photo has been taken far too many times.
That said, popular locations still offer many unique photography opportunities. One of the easiest ways to add life to your landscape photography is to include people or wildlife. This will instantly give your photo more personality, as long as you don’t do generic poses (yellow jackets under the waterfalls in Iceland, we’re watching you).
6. Think outside the box
One of the best landscape photography tips we can give you is to think a little differently. If you stand in the same position and take your photo from the same angle and at the same time as everyone else, you will get average results.
Before you go and start taking photos, think about the location and what might be worth including in your images. If you can, try to visit in advance for scouting. That way, you’ll be less likely to take photos just for fun or capture what everyone else is already capturing.
7. Soak up your surroundings
Many newbies will go somewhere just to take a few photos and move on to the next place. In doing so, they drastically limit the quality of what they could produce.
As with any skill, rushing will give you poor results. Photography is no different, and quality is much more important than quantity. So before you start to walk away, spend some time walking around and just sitting or standing there, and really soaking up your surroundings.
You will become familiar with your surroundings and notice what others don’t notice, allowing you to tell a more meaningful story.
8. Stabilize your camera
Depending on where you are, landscape photography will pose several challenges. For example, you might be standing in rough terrain or having to face windy weather. These, and many more, can cause your camera to shake, resulting in blurry images.
If you are shooting in a situation where you need a slower shutter speed, you should keep your camera as still as possible. You can do this by placing it on a flat surface or by keeping it as close to your body as possible. The easiest way, however, is to take a tripod with you.
9. Don’t change too early
It’s easy to find yourself spending all day outside and filling up your camera’s memory card before you get home and edit everything right away. However, importing everything into an editing program without delay can lead to poor editing. This is because you probably haven’t yet let go of the emotions you associate with the pictures.
When you wait a few days or even weeks to edit, you can look at everything from a neutral point of view. As such, you can use filters, LUTs, and basic settings more rationally, as well as being more selective about which clips you want to improve.
Landscape photos require a lot of thought
Progressing beyond the beginner’s stage in landscape photography is a little trickier than you might think. Taking unique photos is crucial to standing out, especially when most of the photos you see on social media are carbon copies of each other, and being unique takes a lot of effort and thought.
We’ve only covered the basics, but these simple landscape photography tips will help you improve your game on your next photoshoot. What are you waiting for?
The internet has some great free photography lessons and guides for all skill levels to learn everything you would need to take a great photo.
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