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The old standard landscape photography tips - use leading lines, have a solid tripod, get the horizon straight, use filters - are great tips and wonderful to learn landscape photography, but they’re pretty basic.
What about advanced landscape photography tips you can use to enhance your images?
In this article, I’ve got three such tips that go beyond the basics and help you get your photos dialed in.
Advanced Landscape Photography Tip #1: Use Focus Stacking
photo by RichLegg via iStock
Though you often hear about how important good light is for landscape photography, getting tack-sharp photos is right up there for capturing high-quality images.
Originally a macro photography technique, focus stacking involves taking multiple images - each focused at a different distance - and then blending those images together in post-processing.
What this does is enable you to get a crisp, sharp image from the nearest object in the foreground to the furthest object in the background. See what I mean in the video below by Thomas Heaton.
To incorporate this advanced landscape photography tip, you must have your camera on a tripod and use a remote shutter release. The slightest movement of the camera from frame to the next can be detrimental to the sharpness of the photos.
Likewise, each camera setting should be the same from one frame to the next. The only thing that should vary is the distance at which the lens is focused. Begin the process by focusing on the nearest object in the frame, and then adjust the focus deeper in the scene, step by step taking an image, until your lens reaches infinity.
As you may or may not know from reading some of my other posts, I’ve been using the Nikon Z7 as my primary camera the last couple of months.
In my Nikon Z7 review, I discuss many of its incredible attributes, but something I wanted to mention that’s pertinent to this discussion is that it has a feature called Focus Shift.
Focus Shift is essentially focus stacking built into the camera. The Z7 will take multiple photos, each focused at a different distance, which you can then blend together in post-processing.
This feature makes it easier to get the shots you need, though it doesn’t output the final image itself - you’ll still need to do that yourself.
The Z7 lets you choose everything from the maximum number of shots to the focus depth width to the interval between shots, and much more. If you’ve used a Nikon D850, this feature will look familiar as it’s exactly the same in the Z7. Learn all about it in the video above by Mark Smith.
Advanced Landscape Photography Tip #2: Look for the Shot
photo by cassiohabib via iStock
I’m sure this tip seems like a “duh” moment, but hear me out…
How often do we get out of our cars, stand by the side of the road, take a few photos of something pretty, and then move on?
I do it far too often, and the result of that laziness is photos that often look lazy.
photo by MariuszBlach via iStock
Don’t get me wrong - there are lots of roadside spots that give you a view of a spectacular landscape. But often, if you go even just a few yards one way or the other, venture off-road a little bit, or find a higher or lower point of view, you’ll end up with a better shot.
So, that being the case, don’t just settle for the typical shot that everyone else takes. Inquire about hiking trails you can take to find a different perspective. If you have a drone, get a shot from above (if it’s legal, of course!). Try using a different lens than you normally do. At the very least, see how dropping your camera below the typical eye level changes the scene.
photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
The point is that the best photos are often those that are planned in advance with a lot of effort to find new and unique perspectives on the subject. If you do the same, you’ll end up with much better photos.
Advanced Landscape Photography Tip #3: Have a Vision for Your Photos
photo by Umkehrer via iStock
A final tip I want to offer for improving your landscape photography is to have a vision for what you want your photos to say.
This is part of the planning process. When you decide where you want to go take photos, think about what you need to do to make your photos say what you want them to say.
If you’re after a bright, cheerful vibe, going out shooting at blue hour isn’t going to fulfill that vision.
Likewise, if the vision for your photos is to convey a sense of solitude, going to Yosemite in the middle of the summer probably isn’t the best choice.
photo by Scott Cressman via iStock
Fulfilling the vision for your photos requires thinking not just about the location and the timing of your shoot, but also about your gear.
A 24mm lens has a much different look than a 200mm lens, so you must consider how your gear conveys the scene and how that does or does not jive with your vision.
photo by Alan_Lagadu via iStock
How you frame the shot also influences how it fulfills your vision. If you’re going for a feeling of wide-open grandeur, avoid having elements immediately in the foreground. If you want to showcase the vastness of space, find a high perspective from which you can shoot down toward the primary subject.
The common theme here is that quick snapshots of landscapes are fine, but they often fall short of being spectacular.
You need to plan, try different techniques, and have a vision beforehand in order to create great landscape photography and for taking landscape photography to the next level.