Landscape photography is one of the most popular forms of photography; almost everyone with a camera or smartphone has taken a shot of a mountain, beach, or waterfall at some point. But while this genre seems simple to master, the reality is very different.
When you begin as a landscape photographer, you’ll often take a picture of what’s in front of you without overthinking. After all, there are only so many ways to make a mountain look interesting, right?
If you want to improve your skills beyond the casual phase, you must focus more on the stories in your images. And if you’re stuck for ideas, don’t worry; we’ve listed nine surefire landscape photography tips below. Let’s jump right in!
1. Use a Prime Lens
When you first get a new camera, you’ll typically receive a kit lens as part of the package. These lenses are good for getting comfortable with taking pictures, but because you can zoom in and out, you might find that there are too many choices.
If that happens, you might spend more time faffing with your camera than focusing on the scene in front of you.
When using a prime lens, you can’t zoom in or out. As a result, you’ll focus more on the composition. Prime lenses are also better suited for landscape photography because they can help you hone in on and only capture what you want, and they also tend to be sharper than the zoom ones.
2. Keep It Simple
A common mistake that beginner photographers make is thinking that including more in the composition is better. However, this isn’t the case; if there’s too much going on, you’ll 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 wilderness might express feelings of isolation.
By keeping your landscape photography simple and making use of negative space, the viewer will instantly know what you’re trying to say through your art. As a result, your picture will become more memorable to them.
3. Consider the Time of Day
Landscape photography is largely about advanced planning, including thinking about the time of day you’re going to shoot. Lighting will completely change the mood of your photo, and taking pictures at the wrong time of day can result in unwanted shadows or glare.
If you’re visiting somewhere that is popular with tourists, it’s also worth choosing a time of day when you can avoid them. That way, you can take your sweet time with setting up and curating the perfect composition—plus, you won’t need to jostle through crowds of people to get the same shot as everyone else.
4. Don’t Discount “Bad Weather”
Unless you’re trying to capture Mallorca in the middle of summer, “bad” weather is often the best time to go out and do some landscape photography. These conditions can make your images more dramatic, and there’s the bonus of being on your own.
Of course, taking photos in typically non-ideal weather conditions requires some common sense; don’t go if you’re putting your life in danger, and make sure that you protect your camera equipment. Weather-sealed bodies and lenses are a good idea, as well as rain covers.
5. Include People or Wildlife in Your Images
The problem with many landscapes is that, while beautiful, the same picture has been taken far too many times.
Having said that, popular locations still offer plenty of unique photography opportunities. One of the easiest ways to add life to your landscape photography is by including people or wildlife. Doing so will instantly give your picture more personality—as long as you don’t do generic poses (yellow jackets under waterfalls in Iceland, we’re looking at 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 at the same angle and time of day as everyone else, you’re going to get average results.
Before you head out and start taking pictures, think about the location and what might be worth including in your images. If you can, try visiting beforehand to do some location scouting. That way, you’ll find yourself less likely to take pictures just for the sake of it or capture what everyone else is already capturing.
7. Take in Your Surroundings
Many beginners will go somewhere just to take a few pictures and move on to the next spot. By doing this, they dramatically limit the quality of what they could produce.
As with any skill, rushing is going to get you mediocre results. Photography is no different, and quality is much more important than quantity. So before you start snapping away, spend some time walking around and simply sitting or standing there, and really soak in what’s around you.
You’ll become more familiar with your surroundings and notice what others don’t, which will enable 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 stand on uneven ground or have to deal with windy weather. These, and many other things, can cause your camera to shake—which will result in blurry images.
If you’re shooting in any situation where you need a slower shutter speed, you need to keep your camera as still as possible. You can do this by placing it on an even surface or keeping it as close to your body as possible. The easiest way, however, is to take a tripod with you.
9. Don’t Edit Too Soon
It’s easy to find yourself spending all day outside and filling up your camera’s memory card before going home and editing everything straight away. However, importing everything into an editing program without waiting might lead to subpar editing. This is because you likely haven’t yet detached from the emotions you associate with the images.
When you wait a few days or even weeks before editing, you’ll be able to look at everything from a neutral standpoint. As such, you can use filters, LUTs, and basic adjustments more rationally—as well as be more selective about the shots you want to enhance.
Landscape Photos Require a Lot of Thinking
Progressing beyond the beginner phase in landscape photography is a little trickier than people think. Grabbing unique shots is crucial for standing out, especially when most photos you see on social media are carbon copies of each other, and being unique requires a lot of effort and thinking.
We’ve only covered the basics, but these simple landscape photography tips will help you up your game with your next photoshoot. What are you waiting for?
The internet offers excellent free photography courses and guides for all skill levels to learn anything you would need to take a great picture.
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