The 25 most important tips in landscape photography
Many consider landscape photography to be one of the easiest genres. And to a certain extent, that’s true. Anyone can take pictures of landscapes, and it’s actually easy to get good results in the camera. That’s why so many beginners choose to focus on this genre at first and why almost all photography websites have a section dedicated to landscape photography. But the truth is that just because it’s easy doesn’t mean taking stunning landscape photos is easy.
Anyone with a camera can take a photo of a landscape, but it takes a skilled photographer to capture its essence and leave you in awe. While there may not be rules for taking good photos, there are many small tips that you can use to improve the outcome of your photo sessions. These tips for landscape photography will help you capture the world around you from a completely new perspective.
1. PLAN AHEAD.
If you are photographing a place you have never visited before, take some time to do research. Looking at photos taken by other photographers can help you get an idea of the location’s potential (not that you should copy them). This will allow you to select which equipment to bring along.
There are numerous photography apps that you can use to track the position of the sun, moon, and Milky Way throughout the day and night and plan your compositions in advance, such as Photopills.
2. BE IN THE RIGHT MOMENT.
The golden hour in photography is widely considered the best time to capture landscapes. It refers to the period just before sunset and after sunrise. Due to the position of the sun, the light takes on a warm tone and shadows are less harsh. But don’t let the name fool you, this perfect light only lasts a few minutes.
In night photography, if we want to capture the Milky Way, we need to take into account cloud forecasts and the state of the moon, as if there are clouds or a full moon, we won’t be able to photograph it.
3. CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE.
We are accustomed to seeing the world from a similar point of view, which only varies a few centimeters up or down depending on our height. That is why something as simple as crouching or pointing the camera upwards can result in a much more powerful image.
Once you are out in the field, try shooting from different perspectives. This will allow you to explore new compositions and find details that you might otherwise have overlooked.
4. TRY OTHER LENSES.
When we think of landscape photography, it’s most likely that a wide-angle lens comes to mind. After all, the wider the angle, the more impressive places we can capture, right? However, there are occasions where landscapes are even more powerful when we focus on the small details.
Using a telephoto lens will force us to carefully analyze the scene and find the small things that make it unique. By getting closer to distant subjects, we challenge our way of experiencing each location, which can have a great impact on our composition skills.
5. REMEMBER THE RULE OF THIRDS.
When it comes to landscape photography, one of the most popular composition rules is the rule of thirds, which helps us balance the sky and the land in our images.
To do this, we place the horizon on either the upper or lower dividing line, depending on which of the two elements is more relevant in the scene. If we’re capturing a stunning sunset sky, it’s best to position the horizon on the lower line, while if the main subject is on the land, it’s better to use the upper division. By following this rule, we’ll achieve more balanced and harmonious compositions in our landscape photographs.
6. DIRECTING THE VIEWER’S GAZE.
The human brain is naturally wired to detect patterns and follow lines within static images, and photographers can use this knowledge to direct the viewer’s gaze towards the point of interest in their composition.
To achieve this, we can use natural lines in the scene, such as roads, rivers, or mountains, to guide the viewer’s eye towards our main subject. We can also create our own lines using elements in the scene, such as poles, fences, or buildings, that lead the gaze towards the point of interest.
By strategically placing points of interest in the scene, we can create our own leading line and guide the viewer’s gaze towards the focal point. This practice will not only make our images more dynamic and interesting, but also allow us to tell more effective and powerful visual stories in our landscape photographs.
7. FOCUSING ON A SUBJECT.
In landscape photography, it is essential to have a focal point that captures the viewer’s attention and allows them to understand the image clearly and concisely. Creating a clear point of focus is important to guide the viewer’s gaze to a specific point in the image.
There are several ways to achieve this, such as choosing color, contrast, isolating the subject, and placing it in the center of the image. By having a focal point, you have greater control over how the scene is perceived, resulting in a more impactful and memorable image. Additionally, by choosing the right focal point, you can convey specific emotions and feelings to the viewer.
8. INCLUDING FOREGROUND ELEMENTS.
Capturing a landscape scene in its entirety is one of the greatest challenges in landscape photography, as trying to capture the three-dimensionality of a scene in a two-dimensional image can be difficult. To overcome this difficulty, a useful technique is to create layers in the image. Including foreground elements adds depth to the photograph and allows the viewer to better perceive the distance between nearby and far-off objects. In addition, including foreground elements can also help frame the composition and direct the viewer’s gaze towards the point of interest in the image. By using this technique, a more interesting and dynamic landscape photograph can be achieved.
9. CAPTURE THE MOTION.
Landscapes are constantly changing and moving, so it’s important to know how to capture that movement in your photographs. The way you do it will depend on your artistic vision and the effect you want to convey. Before taking the photo, it’s important to consider how the movement will affect the atmosphere of the image.
A common technique is to use slow shutter speeds to enhance the effect of movement and show the complete trajectory. This can be especially effective in photographing waterfalls, rivers, or tides. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you leave the shutter open for too long, it may result in excessive softness that fails to convey the desired effect.
Another interesting technique is using the panning technique. This technique involves moving the camera in the same direction as the moving object while taking the photo, creating a motion blur effect in the background and a sharp object in the foreground. This technique is effective in conveying a sense of speed in images of car racing or cyclists.
In summary, capturing movement in landscape photography can be an effective way to add interest and dynamism to your images. The key is to experiment with different techniques and settings, and consider how they will affect the overall atmosphere and feeling of the image.
10. FACING BAD WEATHER.
Definitely, you should follow safety recommendations and stay in a safe place if there is a dangerous storm or weather event in your area. However, for landscape photographers, adverse weather can be a great opportunity to capture unique and impactful images.
Gray and cloudy skies can create a dramatic atmosphere in your photos, while snow or rain can add texture and dimension to the scene. Even lightning and thunder can be captured spectacularly in your photos if you take the proper precautions and follow safety guidelines.
Although it may be tempting to stay at home on rainy or adverse weather days, going out to take photos can result in beautiful and memorable images. It is important to remember to take the necessary precautions to protect your equipment and yourself, such as carrying a protective bag for your camera, a wind-resistant tripod, and appropriate rain or cold weather clothing.
In summary, bad weather should not be a hindrance for landscape photographers, as it can provide unique opportunities to capture impactful images with unique atmospheres. It is only necessary to take the necessary precautions and be prepared for adverse weather conditions.
11. SIMPLIFY YOUR COMPOSITIONS.
An overloaded composition can overwhelm the viewer and cause the image to lose its impact. That’s why it’s important to simplify your compositions and focus on the essential elements of the scene. Remember that simplicity can be just as powerful as complexity.
There are several ways to simplify your compositions in landscape photography. One of them is to focus on a single element or detail that is the focal point of the image. This could be a flower, a rock, a mountain, or any other element that grabs attention and captures the essence of the scene.
Another way to simplify your composition is to fill the frame with a main image. Instead of trying to include many different elements, focus your lens on a single object or landscape that is the center of attention. This can help give the image a sense of balance and harmony.
You can also use natural elements to isolate the main subject. For example, you can use branches, trees, or rocks to frame the object of interest and make it stand out even more in the image.
In summary, simplifying your compositions in landscape photography can help you create more powerful and attractive images. Focus on the essential elements of the scene and experiment with different techniques to achieve a simple yet effective composition.
12. GET YOUR PERFECT FOCUS.
In photography, depth of field is one of the most important aspects to achieve a sharp and clear image. It refers to the area of the image that appears in focus, from the foreground to the background. Many novice photographers often think that by closing the camera’s aperture to the maximum, they can achieve a wider depth of field, but this is not entirely true.
In fact, each lens has a maximum sharpness point that does not necessarily coincide with the smallest aperture of the diaphragm. Therefore, if you want to obtain optimal depth of field, it is important to know the capabilities of your equipment and experiment with different settings.
In addition, there is an advanced technique called hyperfocal distance, which allows you to maximize the number of elements in focus. This technique involves focusing on a specific point in the scene that allows you to make the most of the available depth of field, so that everything within the focus range appears sharp and clear.
Therefore, before heading out to your photo shoot, make sure you know your equipment well and experiment with different settings to find the optimal depth of field for each situation. And if you want to take your technique to the next level, work on mastering the hyperfocal distance technique to achieve even more impressive results in your photographs.
13. ADD PEOPLE TO THE SCENE.
Landscape photography is a genre that seeks to showcase the natural beauty of the Earth and convey a sense of tranquility and purity. To achieve this, it is common for photographers to capture these scenes without the presence of people, creating an image in which viewers are mere observers of nature. However, adding people to these compositions can result in an even more powerful and emotional effect.
Human figures in a landscape photograph can serve as a perfect scale reference, helping viewers imagine the vastness of the environment. By seeing a person in a landscape, the mind can better comprehend the grandeur of elements such as mountains, lakes, deserts, and waterfalls. Additionally, the inclusion of people in a landscape photograph can add a human and emotional element, evoking feelings of awe and connection with nature.
It is important to note that adding people to a landscape photograph requires care and consideration. The person should be placed in the frame in a way that does not distract from the beauty of the environment but rather serves to enhance it. Likewise, it is crucial to obtain the permission of the person depicted before publishing the image.
In summary, the inclusion of people in landscape photographs can result in an even more emotional and powerful image. By using human figures as a scale reference, viewers can better understand the grandeur of nature and feel a deeper connection to it.
Capturing an incredible photograph is not always an easy task. Sometimes, you’re lucky enough to arrive at a place at just the right moment when something extraordinary is happening and it’s just a matter of clicking the shutter. But most of the time, this doesn’t happen. One of the main things to remember about this genre is that there are many factors beyond your control.
The ideal conditions you had in mind for your composition may take hours, days, or even weeks to come to fruition. Many photographers have spent years chasing the perfect shot, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it on the first try. Patience and perseverance are the keys to achieving the photo you desire.
A clear example of this is the photograph shown of Vestrahorn, which was taken after eight trips to Iceland. The photographer dedicated time and effort to achieve the image he wanted, and the final result was worth it.
Remember that practice and constant learning are also important elements in landscape photography. Don’t give up, keep exploring and experimenting with different techniques and tools to capture the beauty of nature. Who knows, maybe the next photo you take will be the image of your dreams!
15. THE USE OF FILTERS.
Filters are a useful tool for photography, but it is important to know when and how to use them. There are many different types of filters, from ND filters to polarizers, and each has a specific function.
If you are photographing water movement, such as a waterfall or a river, an ND filter can help you achieve a longer, smoother exposure. This way, you can create a silky, attractive water flow effect. It can also be useful in bright light situations, where you need to reduce the amount of light entering the camera to get the proper exposure.
Polarizing filters, on the other hand, are excellent for eliminating unwanted reflections and increasing contrast and color saturation. They are especially useful when working outdoors, as they can help improve the appearance of the sky and water.
It is important to remember that the use of filters is not always necessary, especially with new cameras that have a wide dynamic range. In some cases, such as when the sun is very strong, you can choose to take multiple exposures and combine them into a single HDR file. This can produce a similar result to using an ND filter.
In summary, the use of filters can improve the quality of your photographs, but it is important to know when and how to use them. You should evaluate the lighting conditions and the type of effect you want to achieve before deciding whether to use a filter or not. Practice and experimentation will help you discover which filters are suitable for your photographic needs.
16. SHOOT IN RAW.
Shooting in RAW format is like having a digital negative that contains all the information captured by the camera’s sensor. Unlike JPEG, which compresses and discards data to create a smaller file size, RAW files retain all the original data. This gives you much more flexibility during the editing process and allows you to make adjustments without sacrificing image quality. RAW files also record more information about the scene than JPEGs, which means that you can recover more details from underexposed or overexposed areas of the image. This can be particularly useful when shooting in high-contrast situations, such as landscapes with bright skies and dark shadows. In addition, RAW files give you more control over important aspects of the image, such as white balance, exposure, and color. With a RAW file, you can adjust these settings without permanently altering the original image data. This allows you to experiment with different looks and styles without worrying about losing quality. Overall, shooting in RAW format is essential for any serious photographer who wants maximum control over their images. While the file sizes may be larger and require more storage space, the benefits of shooting in RAW far outweigh the inconvenience
17. CHECK THE HISTOGRAM.
Understanding how the histogram works in photography is crucial if you don’t want to rely on trial and error. This tool offers a graphical representation of the tonal values in the image and can help you make more informed decisions about exposure. The histogram analyzes the luminosity of each pixel in the image and places them on a graph ranging from absolute black to absolute white. By interpreting the histogram, you can evaluate the distribution of tonal values and determine if there are underexposed or overexposed areas in the image.
Knowing how to read a histogram will allow you to set the values of your exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed, and ISO) correctly and adjust them as needed. Additionally, it will help you avoid losing information in your captures, which can be especially important when working with RAW files.
Furthermore, the histogram can help you understand how light affects your photography. For example, if you see a histogram with a large number of pixels in the shadow area, it means that the image is underexposed and you need to increase the exposure to correct this. On the other hand, if most of the pixels are concentrated in the high lights area, the image may be overexposed and you need to reduce the exposure.
In summary, understanding how to read the histogram is an essential skill for any photographer who wants to take full control over their exposures and avoid losing important details in their images. With practice, you’ll learn to interpret the histogram effectively and use this tool to achieve proper exposure and capture images with exceptional quality.
18. USE REFLECTIONS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.
In addition to being useful for creating a perfectly symmetrical composition, reflections can be a powerful tool for adding visual interest and directing the viewer’s attention to a specific point in the image. They are often used to reflect the entire image, but can also be effective when smaller reflective bodies such as puddles or lakes are used to create reflections in more complex compositions.
Reflections can be used to simplify the image, especially when there are many elements present. For example, when photographing a landscape with many details, it can be overwhelming for the viewer to process all the visual information. By including a reflection of the landscape in the water, a more simplified and visually appealing image can be created.
On the other hand, reflections can also offer more context to the image, providing a unique perspective. For example, a reflection in a glass building can show a different view of the surroundings, which can enrich the image and make it more interesting.
In summary, reflections can be a very versatile tool for photographers. They can not only be used to create symmetrical compositions, but also to add dynamism, simplify the image, and offer more context. By learning to take advantage of reflections, photographers can add an additional dimension to their images and create more impactful and visually appealing photographs.
19. THINK IN BLACK AND WHITE.
Often, we think that landscape photography should be in color, as the world around us is vibrant and full of nuances. However, black and white can offer a completely new and fascinating perspective. By capturing landscapes in monochrome, we can highlight contrasts and textures, allowing us to see the world in a deeper and more detailed way.
Black and white can also be used to create a sense of nostalgia or evoke a specific mood. For example, a black and white image of a snowy landscape can appear more mysterious and alluring than the same image in color.
Moreover, the use of black and white can help the photographer to focus on the most important aspects of the image, such as composition and light. By removing color, the photographer can concentrate on how the light falls on the landscape and how shadows and contrasts can be used to create a more dramatic and captivating image.
20. BE QUICK AND PRACTICAL.
Landscape photography may seem like a quiet and easy-to-capture genre of photography. One simply finds a good location, creates an interesting composition, and takes the shot. However, it’s important to remember that landscapes are constantly changing, and there may be fleeting moments that can make a photo unique and special.
For example, a rainbow in the background of an image may only last a few seconds but can make a significant difference in the composition and visual impact of the image. That’s why it’s essential to know your camera and where all the parameters are located, so you can quickly adjust the necessary settings and capture that unique moment.
In addition, there are other important factors to consider when taking landscape photos, such as the time of day, weather conditions, and the use of filters. Learning to work with these elements can significantly improve the quality of your landscape photos.
Finally, although rocks and landscapes may remain there for millennia, it’s important to remember that each moment is unique and will never be repeated exactly the same. Therefore, it’s essential to be prepared and be quick and practical when taking landscape photos, to capture the ephemeral beauty of the natural world in all its splendor.
21. ADAPT TO THE SITUATION.
First of all, we must bear in mind that landscape photography is an activity that requires a lot of patience and perseverance. Often, weather conditions can change drastically in a matter of minutes, which means we must be prepared for any eventuality. As Murphy said, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, so we must be aware that we may face a variety of setbacks while in search of the perfect shot.
For example, a seemingly sunny day can turn into a torrential storm in a matter of minutes, which can ruin our plans to take photos. Moreover, that sunset for which you walked five hours could be hidden by clouds, which means you may have to wait another day to capture the perfect image. Even something as simple as a bird defecating on you while trying to take a photo of a wave breaking on the shore can ruin the whole moment.
However, as landscape photographers, we must be prepared to adapt to any situation and make the most of what is presented to us. To do this, it is important to have a Plan B (and C and D) in case something goes wrong. For example, if the weather changes suddenly, we can have a list of alternative locations we can go to capture photos in different weather conditions.
It is also important to have the right equipment on hand in case an unexpected situation arises. This can include umbrellas, camera covers that are waterproof, or even lenses with different apertures to adapt to different lighting conditions.
In summary, landscape photography is an activity that can present many challenges and setbacks, but if we are prepared to adapt and have a contingency plan, we can make the most of any situation and capture some impressive shots.
22. USE TRIPOD.
Using a tripod in your photography can offer benefits beyond just capturing long exposures. It provides a stable point from which you can carefully plan your composition, avoiding unwanted movements and blurs. This piece of equipment is particularly essential if you plan to use telephoto lenses, as their weight makes it nearly impossible to avoid camera shake.
In addition, if you plan to take multiple images to create a panorama, a tripod is a must-have. Without it, you are likely to encounter problems with alignment and overlapping, leading to a final image that is less than ideal.
Furthermore, using a tripod allows you to work more intentionally and thoughtfully with your photography. Instead of holding the camera in your hands and making quick, hasty decisions, you have the luxury of taking your time, exploring different angles and perspectives, and fine-tuning your settings to create the best possible image.
Additionally, a tripod can be a useful tool for creating unique and creative compositions. By adjusting the height and angle of the camera, you can create interesting and unexpected visual effects that would be impossible to achieve without this piece of equipment.
23. TRY NEW THINGS.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of photography is experimenting with different techniques and approaches, particularly in landscape photography. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as they are often the best way to learn and grow as a photographer. Challenge yourself to seek out new subjects and find different ways to convey emotions and tell a story through your images. Embrace your creative spirit, break the rules, and develop your own unique style. While it’s important to listen to the advice of other photographers, don’t let anyone dictate how you should approach your art. Ultimately, photography is about having fun and expressing yourself, so get out there and enjoy the process!
24. GO BACK TO THE PLACE.
Many people feel that places are only worth seeing once. There is so much world to see, why waste your time on something you have already captured? If this thought has ever crossed your mind, it probably means that you travel a lot and have a good number of landscape photography adventures under your belt. At the same time, each of these experiences makes you a different person, a different photographer.
You shouldn’t be against the idea of returning to a place just because you’ve been there before. New experiences not only shape who you are, but also work wonders with your photography skills. Revisiting a location is the best way to see how much it has changed and how your work evolves as you grow, regardless of the new weather conditions.
25. TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL, AND TRAVEL.
And if it’s with the Icemonkey Tours team, even better! They say these guys are friendly, fun, and you learn so much from their tours.
It’s crucial to travel with other photographers, especially with great ones. These trips offer a chance to observe their thought process, how they approach a shot, how they solve problems, how they adapt to situations, and many other details that will help you grow as a photographer.