It may seem like capturing a great photograph of a landscape would be a simple task, since there is so much natural beauty around you. All you are doing is capturing the natural beauty that is already there, right? Unfortunately, it is not that simple! You can’t just shoot randomly and hope that nature will do all the work for you.
When capturing a great landscape photograph there are multiple factors to keep in mind. You must think about the lighting, the location itself, find a focal point, decide how deep a depth of field you need, and much more. If your composition is off, or you don’t have your camera settings set properly so your image is properly exposed, you won’t capture as amazing a photograph as you are envisioning!
Keep reading for some tips on how you can up your landscape photography game and create some truly breathtaking photos!
Plan Ahead & Be Patient
When shooting landscapes, it is important that you know exactly where you are going. Choose your location far ahead of time to give yourself the opportunity to explore it thoroughly. Make sure you know how to get there, which vantage points will be best, which areas of interest are available for you to capture, what time of day to shoot at. Drive or hike around until you know the location inside and out!
While all of this preparation is important, you should also keep in mind that you may not be able to control everything. Weather can change, bringing clouds or rain and changing the lighting conditions and completely change the way the landscape looks. If this happens, you may simply need to wait for a break in the clouds and the weather to change in order for you to capture your ideal shot! Be prepared, but also be patient!
Think About Your Composition
One of the keys to turning a good photo into a great one is nailing the composition! Even though what you’ve captured may be interesting to look at, and the landscape is gorgeous, if the photo is not composed properly it will not be aesthetically pleasing.
Use the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a great strategy to use when composing any photo. This do this, break your image into thirds vertically and horizontally using imaginary gridlines (many cameras will let you display an actual grid in the viewfinder or on the screen to help you with this!) and then place the subject of your image on a line or at the intersection of two lines.
The theory behind this rule is that the human eye is naturally drawn to whatever lies along one of these lines or at the intersections. If you place your focal point here, you will capture a balanced, aesthetically pleasing photograph.
Make Use of Leading Lines
Using lines on your photo is a fantastic way to direct (or “lead”) your viewer’s attention to the main subject of your photo and create an interesting photo. Leading lines create a sense a movement in the photo and show the viewer’s eyes where to look. They keep your photo from becoming static and boring!
Elements you can use to creating leading lines in your photograph include lines of trees, a fence line, coastline, water, or mountains. Before you line up your shot, think about how you can use the natural elements in the landscape to create leading lines in your photo and end up with a truly beautiful photo!
Change Your Point of View
If you shoot from the exact same angle all the time, your photos will begin to look all the same and become boring. Change things up and breathe new life into your photos by changing your viewpoint!
You can do this by getting down on the ground and shooting upwards, or by (safely) climbing up a nearby hill or even a tree to take photos from a higher vantage point. Changing your point of view will reveal things in the landscape you haven’t seen before and will make it feel like you are capturing a whole new scene, even if it is somewhere you have been hundreds of times before.
Optimize Your Camera Settings
Select a Mid-Range Aperture
One of the goals in landscape photography is to finish with an exceptionally sharp, clear image. In order to have best chance of achieving this, it is best to shoot with an f-stop number that is about two or three stops higher than the lowest possible.
When selecting your aperture, keep in mind that many landscape shots also require a deep depth of field, as you will want both the foreground and background in focus. A simple way to get the right settings is to shoot in Aperture Priority mode, so you can set the aperture you want and have your camera set the Shutter Speed and ISO for you.
Choose a Low ISO
Keep the ISO as low as you can while still being able to shoot with the aperture and shutter speed you need to. Generally, this will be around 100-400.
That being said, you don’t want to miss your shot because you were determined to use a certain ISO in order to get the highest image quality. If you need to raise the ISO in order to use a certain aperture and/or shutter speed to nail your shot, do so! You can always fix a little bit of grain in post-processing.
Use a Tripod
The settings you choose to use to get your shot may not be ideal for holding your camera in your hands. If you need to use a low shutter speed to go with the aperture and ISO you have set, it can be helpful to use a tripod so you can avoid any blur that may be caused by the shake of your hands.
If you take these tips into consideration, you can be sure you will take your landscape photography to the next level! As long as your composition is correct and you have the right camera settings, you will end up with a great photo. No matter where you live, you are surrounded by natural beauty, so do some exploring and capture the gorgeous landscapes near you!