For many photographers, both hobbyists and professionals, landscapes are a favorite subject. If you enjoy being out in nature, there is nothing more enjoyable than capturing a beautiful landscape in your own photo.
With so many people that enjoy landscape photography, you’ll have to be on your game to stand out. The tips covered in this article can help you to elevate the quality of your landscape photos and take your work to the next level.
1. Scout and Plan
While it’s certainly possible to stumble into some great photo opportunities, in general, you’ll have a much better chance of being at the right place at the right time if you plan your outings and scout the locations that you’ll be photographing. If you’re planning your trips, you’ll find the quality of your photos will improve drastically.
Scouting and planning can be done in-person or online. If you’ll be traveling, you’ll probably want to do most of your scouting and planning online before the trip. Find the most interesting places and views, know where you want to go, and when you want to be there.
2. Photograph at the Right Times
Light is a huge factor in nature photography, and the light will change drastically from one time of day to another. The golden hour around sunrise and sunset will typically produce the most appealing light, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find great light at other times of day as well.
If you want to get the best landscape photos possible, you need to be shooting at the best times. You can’t simply head out in the middle of the day when the sunlight is harsh and expect to get amazing photos.
3. Work with the Weather, Not Against It
Just like the time of day is a big factor in your nature photography, so is the weather. The same scene can look completely different at various times throughout the year, in different seasons, and in different weather.
Try to plan your outings when the weather will be ideal for what you want to shoot. It’s also important to work with the weather that you have and adjust your shooting accordingly. For example, a very cloudy overcast day may not be ideal for sunrise or sunset photos, but this weather could be great for photographing waterfalls or forest scenes.
4. Shoot with a Tripod
Sharpness is very important in landscape photography, and any movement can take away from the sharpness. To get the sharpest photos possible, mount your camera on a tripod. You can also use the timer or a remote to trigger the camera without even touching it, which will give you as much stability as possible.
Aside from improving sharpness, shooting with a tripod can also help with your composition. Using a tripod forces you to slow down and think about the shot that you’re lining up, which is a good thing. You’ll probably find that you’re more careful to consider the composition as compared to when you’re photographing handheld and you’re able to rapidly fire off shots.
5. Create Foreground Interest
When photographing landscapes, it’s easy to get distracted in the vastness of the landscape. However, even beautiful scenes can lack something if there is nothing of interest in the foreground of the photo.
One of the most effective strategies you can use to improve your landscape compositions is to use objects like rocks, flowers, natural lines, trees, and other things in the foreground.
6. Watch the Edges
If the edges of your composition are too busy, it can be distracting to viewers. Try to create compositions that feature clean edges. Things like branches, plants, and other objects should be considered.
That’s not to say that the edges of your photos need to be completely clean, but be sure that whatever is at the edge of the photo is not distracting or taking away from the focal point.
7. Capture Movement
Landscape photos are often still, but movement is a part of nature too. Waterfalls, streams, waves, clouds, and other elements within nature move, and showing that movement in your photo can be a powerful technique.
You can use a slower shutter speed or even a long exposure photo to show movement of water, clouds, or wildlife. Experiment with different shutter speeds to see what works well with your subject.
8. Don’t Settle for the East Views
Most travelers tend to photograph from the easy locations like roadside pull offs or major viewpoints. If this is all you’re doing, your photos are probably going to look like everyone else’s.
Make some effort to find the best views and angles and be willing to work a little bit to get a unique perspective. You may need to hike instead of simply shooting from the road, and you may need to give yourself some time to explore and find the best angles.
Scouting and planning can be extremely helpful here, and hopefully you’ll have a good idea of the best views before you even arrive.
9. Learn to Master Post Processing
Post processing in Lightroom or Photoshop is a big part of nature photorgraphy, especially if you’re shooting with RAW files (and you should be).
You don’t need to be heavy-handed with your editing, but every RAW file is going to need some post processing. If you’re not already comfortable with editing your photos, take some time to learn Lightroom.
One helpful way to get started is to use Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions with your photos. After you’ve applied a preset or action that you like, you can inspect how it has impacted your photo so you can learn how to recreate the same effect on your own.
Here at Shutter Pulse, our best packs of Lightroom presets for landscape photography include: