It’s easy to hop out of the car, raise your camera to your eye, and snap a photo of a beautiful landscape. But what’s much more difficult is capturing an image of a landscape that takes the viewer’s breath away. Landscape photography is much more than quick snaps in the parking lot of a beautiful location. Instead, it requires time, practice, and patience to create the most impactful images. To help you make images that capture the imagination and tell a story, follow these quick, but impactful landscape photography tips.
It only takes a few minutes to research a few locations where you might like to create a photograph. When you do, see what other people say about the best spots with gorgeous views. Then dig a little deeper and look at images that other people have taken at that same location. Doing so might help you find a spot that’s a little less known and off the beaten path. Another part of planning is learning about the lay of the land and how it interacts with light.
For example, you might find a beautiful canyon in Utah to photograph but get there to find that in the early morning hours that it’s shrouded in shadow. By doing a little due diligence, you can determine the best time of day to visit a specific spot so you have the best light for your images.
Use a Tripod
Not only will a tripod give your camera a more stable base for sharp photos, but it will also force you to slow things down a little bit. I know when I’m out photographing a beautiful landscape that I tend to want to hurry up so I can get to as many spots as possible. However, hurrying through each photo certainly doesn’t do me any favors because a rushed approach makes mistakes more likely. Instead, take the time to set up your tripod, take a few extra seconds for each frame to check things like exposure, framing, composition, white balance, and so forth, and I guarantee you’ll have better photos as a result!
Go Early, Stay Late
Capturing the best landscape photos isn’t something you can do in just an hour or two…
It’s a time-intensive process that requires you to get to the location early and stay there late. By maximizing your time at the shoot location, you have the advantage of watching (and photographing) how the landscape changes. In the early morning, you might have a misty or foggy scene with soft, diffused light. In the late morning, you might have beautiful contrast as the light intensifies and creates long shadows across the scene. During midday, you have an opportunity to take up-close shots of elements in the landscape with the bright light of the afternoon.
You get the point…
If you’re going to head out to photograph a landscape, give yourself time to really photograph it!
Just like arriving early and staying late can afford you opportunities to photograph a changing landscape, so too can simply moving around. And you don’t have to move around that much, either! A few steps to your left or right, moving closer or further away from the subject, or taking a higher or lower shooting position can completely change how your images look. So, though you should take your time for each shot and stick around awhile to see how the landscape changes, don’t be afraid to move around, either. You’ll find that it makes it a little easier to find the best points of view for highly impactful landscape photos.
Keep the Passion Alive
When it’s really hot or cold out, when it’s raining, when the snow flies or the wind is blowing hard, it can be difficult to stay motivated to go outside and shoot. But if you want to improve your craft, practice is what will help more than anything else. And practicing taking high-quality photos in challenging weather conditions is a great way to cut your teeth and hone your skills. Besides, the weather isn’t always going to be perfect, so you can’t rely on ideal conditions to inspire your passion for landscape photography. So, the next time the weather stinks, pack up your gear, head out, and see what beautiful things you can photograph. A great photo on a bad day is the ideal way to stoke your passion for landscapes!
Putting It All Together
Like I mentioned earlier, creating the most impactful landscape images requires a lot of time, effort, and patience. But if you approach things the right way – planning ahead, taking your time, moving around, and so forth – you’ll increase your chances of creating images like those seen throughout this article. There’s a million other tips and tricks to follow for improved landscapes, but these will get you off on the right foot.