If you’re just getting started in photography, you should know taking a landscape image isn’t as easy as it seems. Not only do you have to have the knowledge of fundamental photography concepts and how to compose an image, but you will have to rely on Mother Nature to help you get that perfect shot.
There’s so much that goes into making a great landscape photo, including choosing the right settings, knowing techniques, and having the right gear. No matter what environment you’re in–climbing a mountain, hanging your legs off a cliff, getting lost in a forest–read up on these tips to improve your landscape photos.
4 Tips For Taking Better Landscape Images
1. Find a location.
There are so many dreamy locations around the world, from mountains to deserts to jungles to beaches to cities. The United States, for example, is a vast, beautiful country with so much to offer. Scout your location before your next adventure! Do some research on what you would like to see–a National Park, or a busy city, or mountain ranges along the West Coast–and figure out the best time of year to visit and the best time of day to take photos.
Most photographers like to capture moments just after sunrise and just before sunset. This is known as “golden hour” or “magic hour.” This is when the lighting hits just right and everything looks warm and magical. So wherever you are, take golden hour into consideration.
2. Adjust your settings and use your tools.
It’s important to know the techniques of photography, especially if you’re doing landscape and have to rely on that to get the perfect shot. A photo with great composition is *chef’s kiss*. Adjust your camera settings for the lighting of your environment and use your knowledge of photography to set up the shot:
- Adjust your settings. Depending on the environment you are in and if you’re trying to capture the moment of water or an animal, you will have to adjust your camera settings, specifically the shutter speed and exposure.
- Create Depth of Field. Adjust your camera settings to an f-stop that works for your lens. Whether if it’s the mountains, the forest, or a seacoast, try and add in a person to the photo, too–this gives meaning to a photo and shows viewers what they’re really looking at.
- Use the Rule of Thirds. It’s simple: Follow a 9 part grid divider (which can be found when looking through the viewfinder of your camera). Apply this Rule of Thirds theory to your photo and watch it add an element of interest. Here’s what the grid looks like:
3. Invest in your gear.
- Tripod. Shakey hands and shakey photos are a big no-no. If you know you’re going to be adventuring and taking photos, carry a tripod. A tripod is an essential piece of equipment and a good one goes a long way. We recommend the Pakpod Adventure Tripod or the Manfrotto 190XPRO Aluminum 4-Section Tripod, but there are so many more you can choose from!
- A wide-angle lens. These are recommended and preferred for landscape photography and for showing wide-open spaces (or just give the sense of it in a photo). Depending on your price point and technical capabilities, there are so many different wide-angle lenses to choose from–you just have to figure out what works for you.
- Polarizing filter. If you shoot in the middle of the day, you might face a challenge: harsh light. A polarizing filter is useful for landscape photographers who want to enhance the contrast and the color and reduce glare. For example, if you want to capture water and its reflection, a polarizing filter can make the photo’s light work in your favor.
4. Spark something within the photo.
If you’re in the most beautiful place in the world…prove it! Tell a story or evoke a certain emotion, using what’s around you. Visual elements like people, animals, clouds, or trees always catch the eye and can trigger something for the viewer.
For example, a photo taken on the top of a mountain with dark and stormy clouds off in the distance can evoke fear or a story, even. Viewers will wonder, Did you get caught in the storm? Was it scary? Were you safe? What happened? A photo of a tropical beach on a sunny, blue-sky day will trigger a sense of serenity or bliss.
Your photos should be more than just something that was captured by a click of a button. They should spark something–feelings, questions, thoughts, a story. Make them curious.
For landscape photography, be sure to do your research: what places to travel to, the best time (of year and day) to go, what lenses work best for a certain camera or environment. Freshen up your photography knowledge on photo composition and everything in between. Have the right equipment and get to know your camera and its settings. A photographer is only as good as his/her tools.