1. Be prepared
Part of landscape photography is immersing yourself into the beauty of nature. However, all of us, landscape photographers, know that nature also has an unpredictable side. Being prepared is key to your success as a landscape photographer. It’s essential that you adequately prepare your photography gear and personal items before you venture off into the great outdoors. Arriving at a location and realizing your batteries for your camera are not fully charged or worse, have been forgotten, is exceptionally disappointing. Standing in cold winds while a thunderous storm pelts rain down on you is much more tolerable with adequate rain gear. Successful preparation will help you focus on capturing your landscape images in the best possible way as opposed to having to deal with distracting issues.
2. Aim to shoot when light is optimal
Spectacular landscape photographs can be captured at any time of the day; however, most often, the ideal times for daytime images are at sunrise and sunset. It’s during the first and last light of the day that a landscape scene often becomes magical. The soft glow of the rising or setting sun, an explosion of colours in the sky and across a landscape, and bright alpenglow across mountain peaks are highly attractive features for a dynamic landscape image. It may seem like a lot of effort to rise early when everyone is still asleep and venture out later on during an evening when everyone else is settling in after a long day, but I promise you it’s worth the effort. There’s something breathtaking and even addicting about the light at sunrise and sunset. This light will captivate any landscape photographer and draw you back over and over again.
3. Arrive early at your location
It’s always an excellent idea to arrive early at a location you intend to photograph. Arriving early allows for you to walk around, familiarize yourself with the landscape, and discover the best spot in which to shoot your scene. It also gives you time to set up and be ready when the light begins to put on a show. Light can move very fast, and you don’t want to miss out because you arrived late. A third reason arrival at your location is a great idea, is because sometimes light doesn’t do what it should right on schedule. Just because your app tells you sunrise is at a specific time doesn’t mean that’s when your location will be at its most spectacular. A stunning moment can occur well before or even long after when it should have happened. I recommend arriving at least an hour before sunrise and sunset. Finally, photographing over an extended period as opposed to a few minutes at sunset and sunrise will result in variety within your images. Variety in your pictures is a fantastic way to add to your portfolio and boost the results of your efforts. It’s rewarding to come away with different looks due to changes in light as opposed to a few similar images.
4. Stay late
Once the sun has risen or set, know that the magic doesn’t end there. It’s worthwhile to stay a bit past sunrise, enjoy the blue hour after the sun has set and even stay longer into astronomical twilight or beyond. Landscape photography offers opportunities at all hours of the day and night. Be open to exploring all types of light and conditions. Embracing new surroundings will ultimately make you a better overall photographer. You will learn new skills in addition to more about your vision and style as a landscape photographer.
5. Compose thoughtfully
Composition is the choices a photographer makes about which elements to include or exclude within a scene. When photographing a landscape, it’s essential to consider how you will compose your photo for the most impact. I recommend you compose your image in such a way that your main subject is easily identifiable. Also, consider the edges of your frame, carefully ensuring that there are no unsightly chops or crops. Finally, make sure that every element within your frame enhances and does not detract from your main subject.
6. Embrace the three “Ps.”
Landscape photography has taught me many lessons. The most important of which have been the three “Ps.” Some of the essential qualities to adopt as a landscape photographer is the ability to be patient, persistent and open to endless hours of practice.
I have had many experiences in which I’ve arrived at a location, and dense fog has impeded my view to only a few feet, but with patience (and wishful hope), the fog lifted just in time, revealing a spectacular scene. There have also been times when clouds covered the Milky Way but dissipated with time. Thunderstorms have rolled through just before sunset, dimming my hope for a coveted light show only to leave a stunning rainbow in its wake. Patience always pays off. You may not get what you were looking for, but with patience, you’ll come away with something beautiful.
Persistence is also a necessary attribute for the landscape photographer. The great Ansel Adams said it best when he stated, “Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer and often the supreme disappointment.” For years I’ve longed to photograph the Aurora Borealis. I’d venture out night after night in the dark and often frigid cold only to be disappointed when there was no show or clouds rolled in with an adamant refusal to part despite my pleas. Then, there was that one night when the perfect conditions aligned, revealing a once in a lifetime show of splendour that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Persistence will pay off eventually. In the meantime, adopt the attitude that regardless of the conditions, every time you head out to photograph landscapes it provides you with the opportunity to practise.
Practise can come in the form of fieldwork, online learning or time spent exploring and improving your post-processing skills. Embrace the opportunity to practise and learn in this spectacular genre.
7. Never stop learning
There is an enormous amount to learn as a photographer. Look at photography as a meandering path of learning and growth. There is no finish line to reach in photography. Embrace your journey and never stop learning.
Speaking of learning, if you are a beginner landscape photographer, be sure to pick up your FREE copy Landscape Photography: A Beginner’s Guide (https://www.ginayeo.com/landscape-ebook). This guide offers up some fantastic tips which will help you get started as a landscape photographer. I also send out FREE landscape photography tips straight into your inbox once a month. You’ll be automatically signed up for these tips when you download your FREE landscape guide.
Here is a peek at the gear I use when doing Landscape Photography!
- Mindshift Backlight 36L
- Nikon D810 and D610
- Nikkor 16-35mm f4
- Nikkor 70-200 f2.8
- Sigma Art 14mm 1.8f
- Lee Filter System: Foundation Kit, little stopper, big stopper and super stopper
- Manfrotto 055 carbon
- MeFoto Globetrotter
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