Mastering landscape photography can be a lifelong pursuit.
From chasing the best light to shooting in inclement weather, dealing with crowds and lugging your prime lenses on a long hike, landscape photography is full of challenges. That said, there's no greater feeling than being surrounded by nature, pressing down the shutter and knowing you've just created a masterpiece.
Now, to help you on your next outdoor adventure, we've assembled a collection of simple yet powerful techniques to improve your landscape photography.
1. UNDERSTAND depth of field AND FOCUS
>> In landscape photography, focus is of paramount importance. For sweeping vistas, the simplest way to achieve sharp photos is to use a small aperture setting (such as f/8, f/16, etc ). The smaller your aperture (and larger the f/stop number), the greater your depth of field.
2. Work with weather
>> Sure, photographing landscapes on a bright and sunny day will produce nice and even images. However, braving the elements and shooting in inclement weather can lead to something far more striking, emotional and awe-inspiring. When preparing for your outing, make sure to scout your location beforehand and check the weather conditions in advance. Also, remember to protect your gear by packing preventive measures, such as a rain cover for your camera, cloths to wipe down your gear, extra batteries if it's cold ... and proper clothes for yourself.
3. Tripods can be your Best Friend
>> Most people use a tripod to prevent camera shake and ensure their photos come out sharp in low light or small aperture situations. However, for landscape photographers, "the waiting game" is another key reason to use a tripod. Basically, you'll want to find a perfect spot, put your camera on a tripod, frame your photograph ... then sit around and wait for the perfect light and moment to present itself. For extra insurance when it comes to camera stillness, consider investing in a cable or wireless shutter release.
4. Experiment with your Foreground
>> One element that can make or break your landscape image is the foreground. When setting up your shot, consider using leading lines; or, try placing your horizon lower to capture a different and interesting perspective. Don't forget about your depth of field and remember to keep your aperture on the larger side to keep as much of your image in focus as possible.
5. USE LEADING Lines
>> Leading lines are extremely vital when it comes to photography, as you'll want to guide your viewer’s eyes across your image. Lines can help you guide your viewer's eye to the main point of interest and also create a feeling of depth and scale to your image. A few examples of natural leading lines you might find would be roads, railroad tracks, streams, pathways, etc.
6. Don’t forget about the sky!
>> A truly great landscape photograph has a well balanced mix of beautiful sky and captivating foreground. However, Mother Nature, time constraints or happenstance may have other ideas. In those situations, don't be afraid to focus on one of the two elements and see how the other falls into place. An interesting foreground can sometimes make up for a bland sky. Conversely, many landscape photographers fill most of their frame with a beautiful sky of dark or dreamy clouds. It's amazing how many different emotions the air above can convey. Have fun and experiment.
7. The Power of Movement
>> Though landscapes are usually sought after for their peaceful, quiet and overall serene qualities, landscapes can be a perfect place to capture movement. Take a moment to look around you and observe the wind rustling through the trees, birds in flight, waves crashing over rocks and even clouds moving overhead.
8. Two words - Golden Hours
>> Twice a day, the landscape is bathed with beautiful golden light ... instantly making any photograph more warm, vibrant and magical. Specifically, the "Golden Hours" are the times just after dawn and just before dusk, when the sun is still low on the horizon. The light is a perfect shade of gold, which can create many interesting elements such as shadow, silhouettes and patterns.
9. Find your Focal Point
>> Focal points are a crucial factor when it comes to photography. Without them, your image can come off as empty, dull and lacking purpose, which tends to make viewers move on rather quickly. Think carefully about your composition and always consider the rule of thirds to make your images come alive. You focal point could range from a building or structure to an interesting rock, tree, animal, person ... sky's the limit, so go out there and get creative!
10. Have fun and Experiment!
>> Photography is about having fun, so always remember to try new ideas and concepts and get out of your comfort zone! Good luck shooting!