Taking Better Landscape Photographs

Landscape photography is a style of photography that many photographers prefer. It gets you outdoors and seeking the adventure of finding the perfect shot, from the best vantage point during the best lighting conditions. By the time you find your perfect spot, it's a race against time as the lighting changes, as the clouds move in. If your shot changes too much, you'll need to rethink your photograph idea.

People love landscape photography because it puts them in contact with nature. It gets them active, in the outdoors and enjoying our beautiful earth. It gives us a renewed sense of appreciation for this wonderful planet we inhabit and all of its finer details.

Maximize your depth of field

While it's not a rule that's set in stone, using a large depth of field is a great way to showcase the beauty in the details of your photographs. Remember, to increase your depth of field you need to choose a higher f-number (smaller aperture opening). This will allow you to capture the greatest detail at the greatest length. However because less light will be coming into your camera due to the smaller opening, you'll require a longer shutter speed time, a higher ISO film or a combination of both depending on your lighting conditions.

Use a Tripod

Again, because you're going to be using a higher aperture number (smaller opening), less light will be coming in through to the film. You will likely need to use a slower shutter speed setting. If you're not careful and you use your camera hand held you will run an almost unavoidable risk of having a little bit of camera shake and the subsequent picture blur that comes along with even the slightest of movements.

Because your shutter speed will be set to a lower number you're even more likely to experience problems with blurring within your photographs. It is one of the biggest mistakes that armature photographers make. While it may not be noticeable to you initially, once your eye gets trained to look for the slightest details of imperfection within a photograph you'll start to get annoyed with even the slightest blurring of your landscape photographs.

Obviously these mistakes can be avoided with the use of a tripod to ensure your camera doesn't move while you're taking pictures.

Use a Focal Point

Another major mistake in landscape photographs is that the photographer doesn’t give their viewers eye anywhere to rest. A lack of a focal point will make it more likely your photograph will get nothing more than a quick glance over. Even if you place your focal point in the distance as a small detail, at least it gives the eye somewhere to rest while it's not browsing the rest of the photograph.

Think foregrounds

Foregrounds are the key to good landscape photography. They are also great places to put your focal points. A well constructed foreground not only gives your viewers eye an opportunity to easily enter the photograph, but foregrounds also create a nice sense of depth to your shots.

Along similar lines, they also help create the feeling of being there.

Consider the sky

As we spoke about earlier, if your sky has dramatic clouds and color then consider making your sky take up the top 2/3rd’s of your photograph. If on the other hand your sky isn't that interesting that you better make sure your foreground is interesting. Landscape shots which lack an interesting sky and an interesting foreground are usually fairly boring to look at.

Lines

Using lines are a great way to lead your viewers eye into a photograph and allow their eyes to travel around the photograph after that point. They also help create depth and scale. Not only that but they can also be a point of interest in and of themselves.

Capture Movement

Most people think of landscapes as still, motionless scenes. However, this simply isn't the case. Think about slowing down your shutter speed to capture things like flying birds, moving clouds, waves, waiving trees and so on.

Adding movement to your photographs can be a great way to add a dramatic element to your landscape photography.

Work with Weather

Most landscape photographers will have their favourite lighting conditions. Some landscape photographers prefer partially cloudy skies so they can take advantage of both the cloud cover and sun. Others want bright blue skies and sun. While still others want the sun on it’s way down and the sky full of clouds. There is no right weather for landscape photography, only different styles which can be used to capture dramatically different landscape shots. Too many landscape photographers look simply for brigt blue skies and sun. However, cloud formation can be just as interesting in landscape photographs. Landscape images with dark and stormy rain clouds can really help set the mood with ominous overtones. Look for wind, mist, storms, dramatic clouds, sun shining through dark skies, sunsets (and sunrises) rainbows etc and work with these variations in the weather rather than just waiting for the next sunny blue sky day.

Work the Golden Hours

Landscapes come alive during both dusk and dawn. There are many landscape photographers who don't even shoot during the daytime hours because they want to capture the varying colors of light in the morning and at night. These hours are also great because the sun either hasn't risen or set yet or is on an extreme angle which creates beautiful patterns and helps bring out interesting textures.

Change Your Point of View

Consider changing your point of view for your landscape shots. Too often landscape photographers are happy with their position at the side of the road. They take their shot standing up and are far to focused on what's in the distance. Try getting closer to the ground, climb a tree, do anything to experiment with your point of view. It's the easiest of photographic elements to change, it's free and can have the most dramatic altering effect of any of photography's composition tricks. Yet it remains embarrassingly underused in the realm of photography.

10 Tips For Landscape Photography

video by Serge Remelli

5 Tips For Landscape Photos

Video by Jimmy McIntyre

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