The Internet is full of landscape photography tips but a lot of this information is about gear and post-processing. Many beginner and intermediate landscape photographers can be mislead to think it is all about the gear. Many of the sites focus on reviews and testing of equipment.
I must admit I love new gear and accessories myself. However, I have learned it was never the new camera that improved my images the most. That was my own technical improvement - one step at a time.
To get you started I made this article with the most important landscape photography tips you should know about
Tip 1: You don't have to buy a new camera now
Possibly a surprise to many but the first of many important landscape photography tips is to forget about the gear - at least for now. If you already have a camera use it. The gear comes later. You have to focus on and learn the basics of landscape photography first.
When the time is right, and you have learned the most important stuff which is in your hands and not in the technology you can upgrade your camera. At that time you will also know what to look for when buying a new camera.
How to improve your landscape photography - without buying a new camera
It is simple. First you must understand the camera does not make great photos. You make the photos and have to take control. It is like a musician. If you can not play the guitar it does not matter which brand you buy or how expensive it is. It will most likely sound terrible. You need to learn how to play the guitar.
Some photographers, I know, are musicians as well, and their musical skill is an advantage when they make photos. Photographers are artists, and their art is the photos.
Tip 2: You must learn to use the camera you already have
If you are starting out there is so much more to learn which is about you as the photographer and not the camera. So even thinking your camera is not good enough is simply starting at the wrong end. You should spend time and learn the settings on the camera you already have.
One of the most important landscape photography tips I can give is: Take the time to learn how to use your camera. Not doing so is one of the biggest mistake beginners do. They buy a camera put it in Auto mode and start shooting. Therefore, even if it is boring, you must spend some time reading the Instruction Manual that came with the camera.
The technical aspects of using the camera are covered in a different section on Landscape2Art.com
How to develop your photography skills
- and make awesome photos
Landscape photography is challenging to do well. What is landscape photography and what is good landscape photography? Why is landscape photography so challenging? The most important reason is you can not control the landscape. Landscape is static, and you can not move elements in the scene nor can you change the existing light condition.
A studio photographer can move his subject to where he likes, and he can add or remove light to his taste. As a landscape photographer, you have to work with what is available at the time you are out shooting.
You need to learn the techniques to overcome the challenges in landscape photography.
Tip 3: See like a camera
Our eyes see everything in tree dimensions (3D). By looking at a scene, we have an idea about the distance and relative size between two elements. Our eyes have an extreme capacity which enable us to see details in very bright light and details in shadows.
While we see in 3D the camera is only capable of giving us a two dimensional (2D) image both on screen and in a print. There are different techniques we can use to give an impression of depth in a landscape photo.
Learning to see like a camera is essential if you want to make great landscape photos. You can learn more about this here
Tip 4: Pre-visualization
You must have a vision and an idea of what you want to tell with the photograph. A good photograph tells the viewer a story they can relate to. Each scene is different so which techniques you use is dependent on what you want to achieve.
With digital photography, more and more photos are post-processed to different degrees. Already at the scene when shooting you should think about what you want to achieve with your photo later when post processing.
Tip 5: Know your location
You can find a lot of landscape photography tips on the Internet. Google images and Google maps are amazing tools where you can find images and inspiration. On the popular photo sharing site 500px.com it is possible to search for images directly on the map. You can select a place you want to research and all images tagged from this place, will be shown.
There are many cool iPAD apps with similar capabilities. One is the very cool Stuckonearth app. This app extract images from another popular image sharing site Flickr.com. With this app you virtually can travel around the world and get inspiration through photos. Quality may vary but there are many great photos in between.
If there is a secret in landscape photography - it must be light
Tip 6: Learn about light
It is not a coincidence most photos from professional photographers looks amazing with great light and colors. They know when the light is right, and they know how to work with the light. Some light is more pleasing than other making sunsets so popular. The warm orange colors at sunset draw attention.
Learning about light is probably the number one secret in landscape photography.
Tip 7: Best time to shoot
Is there a best time to shoot? There certainly is, and if you want to compare your photos with the professionals you must know these times. If you want to get the best shots you have to get out of bed early - I mean seriously early or you must like to stay up late.
Dusk and dawn are the two best times for landscape photography simply because the light is most pleasing at these times. As the light is different throughout the year you must also consider this when planning to photograph a specific landscape.
But don't forget, it is not only at sunrise and sunset you can make fantastic photos. This article discuss other ideas about the best time to shoot great landscapes.
Are you on the right track to becoming a better landscape photographer - how do you know?
Tip 8: Inspiration
Looking at other photographers work is a great way to learn and get inspiration. There are so many sources on the Internet today where you can find great imagery. One not so known site with very high quality photos is 1x.com.
Tip 9: Get feedback
Getting feedback on you photos not only is inspirational but it makes you improve you techniques and creativity. If you rely on Facebook and 500px when getting feedback you might be mislead. Unfortunately, many of the social media platforms are simply a race of getting as many Likes as possible. Most comments are typical “awesome”, “fantastic” “wow”. As you understand, it does not give you any constructive feedback on how to improve your photos.
I recommend having an experienced photographer to review some of your work and get real feedback on your technique and composition. I have learned so much getting my photos critiqued by other photographers. You can ask a photographer friend or you can find photographers on the Internet doing critiques for a small amount of money. It is worth it
Tip 10: Practice and practice more
Photographing every day is an important tip because I know from experience. You can study and read, watch YouTube and Vimeo videos day long but if you don't practice you will not master the skills. For a long time I spent too much time studying photography more than I was practicing in the field. This article discuss not so obvious ways you can improve your skills as a beginner landscape photographer.
When I went out to shoot I fumbled with the camera setting even I knew how to do it. Sometimes the light changes fast, and there is no time to fiddle with the settings these situations. You should ideally be able to operate your camera settings without taking your eyes from the scene.
Back to the music analogy: Everybody has a voice, but not all of us can sing well. Everybody has a camera but not all of us make great photos. What we have common is the more we practice, the better we get.
3 final landscape photography tips - not to be missed
Tip 11: Composition
Probably the most important landscape photography tip after learning about light. Why do I put composition at the end of this article? Simply because I have made the whole section about all aspects of composing pleasing landscape photos. You can read all about composition here
Tip 12: Know your lenses
Different focal length has a great impact on the composition. Now I am touching upon gear again. It will be short for now. In my opinion lenses are more important than the camera. I am not talking about the optical quality of the lenses but how lenses with different focal lengths have an impact on your photos.
When looking at a photo in most of the cases you can tell what lens is used (not the brand but the focal length). Today a high percentage of landscape photos are made with wide angle lenses. There are reasons for this but as a landscape photographer, you should master all focal lengths.
Tip 13: Always use a tripod
The last landscape photography tip is use a tripod. The tripod not only make sure you get the sharpest possible photos, but it also slows you down when photographing. With the camera on a tripod, it is easier to make small adjustment in your composition. Those small adjustments could be the difference between an OK or an awesome photo.