How To Take Good Landscape Photos

We all take landscape photos and in this article I am going to give you some tips on how to take good landscape photos.

Panoramic landscape photo of lake and mountains

But first ….

Is this typical of you?

You’re driving along the highway and arrive at a scenic “lookout point” and decide you should take a look and, if the scenery is good enough, take a photo to remind yourself you were there.

You pull over hop out; decide it is worth photographing and then, from more or less the center of the lookout point, photograph as much of the view as you can. Little thought is given to the camera settings and even less to the composition of the photo.

What is wrong with that approach?

  • Well everything except that you wanted to take a photograph.
  • No thought is given to the light (it was probably a bright sunny day)
  • You shoot in auto mode – its quick and easy, right?
  • You split the image 50/50 between sky and land
  • The result is just another photo that doesn’t convey what you were trying to capture.

Lets Get You To Take Good Landscape Pictures

Firstly ….  be prepared.  Rushing a photo (particularly if you don’t have to) usually ends up as an unsatisfactory memory that you won’t ever look at more than once.

10 Point Check List To Take Good Landscape Photos

  1. Desert landscape with good compositionUse a tripod.  Yes I know you are in a rush but the use of a tripod (especially where slower shutter speeds are needed) will always enhance your photos and increase your enjoyment of looking at them afterwards.
  2. Aperture (F-stop) setting.  As a rule of thumb (and remember rules are made to be broken – occasionally) you want as much of the scenery in focus as possible. The easiest way to do this is to select a small aperture (high f-stop).  This means less light will be entering your camera so you need to compensate either by increasing the exposure time (shutter) or the ISO (film speed) or a combination of the two.
  3.  Study your landscape.  Take a look at the foreground, the sky, the movement of the wind, birds, trees etc.  Try and picture what you are trying to capture and convey. Pay particular attention to the foreground, which, if positioned correctly, will give an image depth and perception.
  4. What is the sky up to?  Some of the most dramatic landscape photos are a result of dramatic sky.  The drama can be in the color, the clouds or activity.  The use of filters is a great and inexpensive way to dramatize the sky and accompanying weather conditions.
  5. Capture the action. Include activity, such as flying birds, trees bending in the wind etc. You will probably need a longer shutter exposure for these shots so remember to compensate on the ISO and aperture. Experiment to see what works.
  6. A farm landscape making use of the fence line as a focal point in this composition of a good landscape photoAre there any lines you can use? The use of lines, such as jet trails, railings, road marks, fences etc., are a great way to lead the eye to the focal point of the photo. Remember the rule of thirds when placing them.
  7. Check the horizon.  Make sure you keep the natural horizon straight.  It is easier to do at this point than later.  Again apply the rule of thirds.  If the sky is dramatic then give it 2/3rd of the space.  If not limit it to 1/3rd and if you can’t make up your mind take two shots – one of each.
  8. Take the photo from an unusual angle.  Instead of the usual height for the camera consider getting down to ground level (or even below if you are on a hill) or higher up. It is amazing how dramatically you can improve a photo by changing your perspective. Think differently for that “WOW!” shot.
  9. Landscape photo of the sea taken at sunset - the golden hourCome back during the Golden Hour. There is a phrase among landscape photographers called the “golden hour”.  There are two golden hours each day – one at dawn and one at dusk.  The different angles of the sun have a dramatic effect on shadows and create interesting angles. If you really want to become a good landscape photographer you need to take advantage of the Golden Hour.
  10. Take advantage of inclement weather. Buy a raincoat if you have to as some of the most dramatic (and best) landscape photographs are taken in bad weather.  Different weather is a great way to create mood and character overtones of the same subject. It can be uncomfortable but it is well worth the effort.

You now have 10 easy steps to follow to ensure you take good landscape photos every time. It is not difficult and becomes easier the more you practice.

and that brings me to my last tip …..

PRACTICE OFTEN!

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