16 surefire landscape photography tips for beginners
Landscape photography tips for beginners are often focusing on camera settings and basic composition rules. These are essential and important techniques you must know.
But starting out as a beginner landscape photographer is so much more. It is easy to think you can become a great landscape photographer by reading and watching photography related videos. Books and videos are important and easy accessible tools in today's online world.
Is this approach enough to make you a good photographer? Maybe not. Practice is the key. Without practice, you will not be able to handle challenging situations when you are out in the field.
1. Whatever camera you have - learn to use it
One of the most important landscape photography tips for beginners is:
You might be tempted to believe you will take better landscape photos if you only spend some money on a new expensive camera. This approach is as wrong it can be. No camera will make you a great photographer, you do.
2. Learn the basics
Exposure is often the most challenging part for many beginner photographers. It is fundamental to understand how you get a proper exposure (not too light or too dark photo).
By understanding how aperture, shutter, and ISO works together you have come a long way in getting better photos. The Exposure Triangle is a useful tool to help you understand the relation between aperture, shutter and ISO.
Focusing is the other technical challenge beginner photographers experience when they start photographing. Often beginners upgrade their camera from a Point and Shoot or even sometimes a Smartphone.
Smartphone's and most Point and Shoot cameras have a very small image sensor. Small image sensors create a wide depth of field (DOF). With a wide DOF your image will be sharp all the way from the foreground to the background. With a Smartphone, have you ever seen a photo out of focus due to lack of DOF - probably not.
Sudden shallow Depth of Field might be a surprise when you upgrade to a camera with bigger image sensors like a DSLR. If you are not aware of how focal length and aperture influence on DOF you will find some of your images are not sharp. DOF is one part of understanding how to get sharp images.
Another important reason for blurry images is movement. Understanding movement and how shutter speed influences on moving subjects or camera shake are as important.
Light is the most important element of photography. Without light, you can not make an image. But understanding the different qualities of light is important. When you know how to master light and different light situations you are on your way to becoming a serious photographer.
The composition is what makes a photo stand out. A killer composition combined with great light makes for a stunning image. Beginner landscape photographers often forget composition.
Learn all the manual settings before auto modes
My most important landscape photography tips for beginners is to learn how to expose and focus using your cameras manual settings. I recommend you start to learn the manual settings before you even set your camera in Auto mode.
Manual modes might sound scary, but you will not regret it as soon you master them. I almost never use any of the auto settings on my camera. The different auto modes are useful when you are in a hurry and you shoot fast moving subjects. With landscape photography in most situations, you will have plenty of time to make manual adjustments to both exposure and focus.
3. Get yourself a tripod
The tripod is probably the most underrated tool by beginner landscape photographers and the most loved by professionals. There is a reason. for it. Unless you understand how you creatively can use aperture and shutter you don’t see the need for a tripod.
The fact is most of landscape images you see are shot from a tripod. Some of the effects are not even possible to do without the tripod. So get yourself one decent tripod as soon you can. The tripod will open your eyes for new photo opportunities, for sure
4. Practice - practice and practice even more
As I mentioned you cannot just sit comfortably at home and study to be a good landscape photographer - you need to practice. Therefore, one of the most important tips for landscape photography beginners is:
Go out and shoot - shoot a lot, and learn from your mistakes.
It can sometimes be frustrating to see the websites of professional photographers. Why do they only have fantastic and beautiful images? They don’t! Even professionals make mediocre photos from time to time.
The difference between a beginner and a professional photographer is the pro don’t show the bad photos to the public. They keep the mistakes for themselves and learn from them.
Landscape photography tips for beginners - Learning Resources
We live in a time where the available information is endless. As a beginner, you can find landscape photography tips from a lot of online sources.
5. Read photography books
You have endless opportunities for finding books about landscape photography on the Internet. Many photographers write their own e-books you can purchase and download. E-books are much less expensive to produce and thus less expensive compared to printed books.
In many cases, you can download free PDF ebooks when you subscribe to photographers Newsletters.
6. Watching videos
Youtube.com and Vimeo.com are popular sites for videos. The problem is the number of videos on these sites are so huge it difficult to find what you want. But if you have the patience to search you can find a lot of beginner photography tips, also about landscape photography.
7. Complete video courses
Purchasing a complete video course is a better option if you want a structured training about landscape photography. I have purchased a few excellent training courses online.
Some allow you to download the video files to your computer. Other courses are based on streaming, so you need to be online to access the training.
Often online beginner photography courses are a solid mix of everything from portrait and children photography to studio and flash photography. In between there are sections covering a bit of landscape photography as well. If you want a specific landscape photography course with tips for beginners, there are fewer options available.
Subscribe to relevant Newsletters is another free information source. Many landscape photographers offer weekly and monthly Newsletters with their tips and techniques. If you subscribe to a few Newsletters from landscape photographers you admire, you will regularly receive great tips from them, directly in your mail box.
Learning by doing
As I mentioned above you can learn a lot by reading and watching videos. But unless you practice you will not be able to use effectively what you have learned when you're out in the field for serious shooting.
Like athletes practice between the important competitions so they can perform at their maximum when it matters, you should do the same with your photography.
The best way to learn photography is by shooting together with other more or less experienced photographers. Believe it or not but as a beginner landscape photographer you can get a lot of valuable tips from less experienced photographers than you.
9. Photo Walks
Join a local photo walk. This is a great way to meet up with fellow photographers and an excellent way for beginner photographers to get free tips. If you cannot find any photo walks nearby where you live, why not set up your own?
Meetup.com is a great site where you can find relevant photo-walks near you. You can use the site to create your own meetup as well.
10. Photo Tours
Go on a landscape photography tour. If you are more adventurous and want to travel a photo tour might be an option for you. If you search the Internet, you will find a lot of Landscape Photo Tours all over the world. A photo tour is basically a guided tour where the leader(s) takes you to great spots.
11. Photo Workshops
Attend a landscape photography workshop. A photography workshop is more advanced than a photo tour. Often a workshop involves additional training or seminars done by the photographer leading the workshop.
A workshop is a great way to learn photography from experts and at the same time meet other photographers with the same interest.
Most landscape photography workshops are open to beginners, and the workshop leaders will give you great tips you can take with you home.
12. Sign up at your local camera club
Most cities have a local photography club. This is another great and affordable way for a beginner to meet with other photographers. The clubs often have several groups focusing on different genres of photography.
Landscape photography with its popularity is likely to be one of the groups. If not you can be sure a lot of members in the club does landscape photography. A club is a great way to show your photos to others and learn from the feedback.
13. Join discussion forums
You can participate in landscape photography forums on the Internet. If you find a good forum, you can share your experiences and ask questions. Some forums are very well moderated, and you can find a lot of good information.
Unfortunately, a lot of the forums are gear focused, and the discussions are mostly technical. You will not improve your photography skills by attending these groups. But it can be interesting from time to time to watch how a simple question can turn into a heated discussion about everything except the question.
So look around and you might be able to find a good forum for beginner landscape photographers.
14. Attend contests
When you feel comfortable and ready to show your landscape images to others you should attend photo competition. There are numerous competitions available.
This tips might feel intimidating for a beginner landscape photographer, but guess what? Competitions are popular for beginners, and you will certainly not be alone. Just browse through the submissions from a couple competitions and you will understand what I mean.
Some competitions are prestigious and have quite high entry fees. However, if on of your images are shortlisted in any of these contests, your photos will be seen by a huge number of people, and you will be a rising star.
It is hard to reach up in these contests so as a beginner you should not have too much hope. But in the future - who knows?
Other contests are smaller and not that prestigious. Many online landscape photography related sites run contests. The good thing is some of them are free to enter.
Be aware some competitions are set up only for the purpose of getting the club or magazine extra money from your entrance fees. Why pay if you can get it for free?
Competitions are judged by individuals, and as you know, we all have different preferences on what we like or not. The same image can do well in one contest and not even be recognized in another. Just don’t give up.
Some image sharing sites specializes in competitions. Pixoto.com and ViewBug.com are two of these sites. Both have free contests where you can submit your photos. They also run some contests that require a paid subscription to attend. But as a beginner photographer you can do well for a long time with the free options.
Most of the contests are judged by a single photographer or a group of photographers. The fun thing with Pixoto is your photos are competing with others in an image duel system. The more duels you win, the more points your image score, and it will rank higher in the specific category. Very informal but fun.
Learn from the pros
15. Get yourself a mentor
As a beginner landscape photographer, another great tip is to find yourself a photography mentor and learn from an expert. A mentor does not need to be a world renown photographer. It can even be a photographer friend with more experience than yourself.
Having someone you can ask questions and who can give you advice and tips is invaluable. If you cannot find someone local it is possible to search for and ask someone on the Internet who's landscape photography you admire. You can only get a no. A no is not dangerous so don’t be afraid to ask.
16. Portfolio reviews
Get feedback from pro photographers. Some professional photographer offers portfolio review where you can get in-depth details on your images. A portfolio review is an excellent way for a beginner landscape photographer to get valuable tips from a pro.
The review will tell you what you do well and where you can improve your photography. Be prepared to pay a fee for these services. But it can be well worth spending a few bucks on such a review.
Don’t put your trust in feedback from Facebook. People spend a very short amount of time on your photos on Facebook. People click the Like button a lot, but do they see the qualities of your photos? A Like on Facebook does not necessary equal your photos are great. Also, the typical comments on Facebook are limited and not very constructive.
As your landscape photography experience grows, you will probably want to try most of the ideas I have mentioned above. My experience from workshops and photo tours is what I have found most valuable. A workshop might take you to new interesting places, but even more important you meet many great photographers and make friends. Nothing is like meeting people face to face. No online course can replace that.