Landscape photography is one of the more enjoyable forms of photography for beginners to engage in, and one that can be simple to get into provided you have the right techniques and methods. Basic landscape photography tips can point us in the right direction to capture outstanding images.
To bring it down to the fundamentals of photography, basic landscape photography is capturing a view of the outside world in a way that shows it to others in a meaningful way. We can all take snapshots to share and show friends where we were or to hold on to our own memories.
Landscape photography goes beyond the mere act of recording an image. We create an image. These beginner landscape photography tips will assist you to transition from snapshots to crafted landscape photography.
Along the way, if you also want to take some snapshots, please do. I certainly do myself, as does almost every professional or other advanced photographer I know does. We constantly snap pictures, with our fancy cameras, with basic cameras, and with our smartphone cameras. It’s fun to share pictures and it’s nice to hold on to cherished memories.
Tip 1: Stop. Look Around
Photo by Archie Binamira from Pexels
In order to create an outstanding landscape image, we should put ourselves into a photographic state of mind, a mood. One of the ways we can accomplish that is to slow down and really observe where we are and what’s going on around us.
As far as beginner landscape photography tips go, this is an important one. Sometimes all it takes is for us to pause before even setting up our camera gear and really take in the scene where we are. Sure, we see that giant mountain or sprawling sea shore, but what else is there?
photo by mammuth via iStock
The sky often holds a lot of detail that could be interesting, we can think about how to include it, how to compose and expose. Besides the large main subject, we might notice a smaller aspect that can become the focus of an image. If we turn around and look to the sides or behind us, we might find a fresh view of the beautiful scene in which we are immersed.
All the fancy camera gear in the world won’t capture the scene we’re not looking at. Slowing down and carefully observing the scene leads us to the next of our valuable basic landscape photography tips.
Tip 2: Develop A Plan
To me, here’s where landscape photography really starts to get fun. This where we actually craft a photographic image instead of merely snapping a picture.
As we’re looking around our scene, noticing what we want to shoot and highlight, what we want to de-emphasize, we should start thinking about the actual image making process. This is the step where we visualize the final image and work backwards to find the settings and techniques to use in order to end up with that result.
Are we going to include or emphasize the sky? If so, are we going to use a polarizer filter or possibly a graduated neutral density filter? What exposure will give us detail in either highlights or shadow?
photo by FilippoBacci via iStock
Maybe we found a nice view of a foreground subject in our scene. Are we going to focus on that exclusively or as part of the entire image? That decision will tell us to use selective focus techniques or deep depth of field, or something in between. That, in turn, will affect our exposure, since lens aperture is involved and that aperture or f-stop is part of the Exposure Triangle.
What type of lens do we want to use? A wide angle to gather a larger field of view or a telephoto to limit the field of view? Do we want to amplify the apparent perspective of our lens choice or minimize it?
We can also decide on any post processing methods or techniques in this step, such as HDR photography or making a panorama. And that naturally leads to tip number 3 in our list.
Tip 3 : Shoot In Raw
More so than shooting in manual mode, capturing files in RAW format is a vital step in being able to craft outstanding images.
I’ve noticed that a lot of beginner to intermediate photographers are under the impression that using manual exposure mode is essential to good photography. While this is true to a certain extent, out file choice can often give us more control over the final than camera setting adjustments
A lot of professional and advanced photographers appreciate the automatic modes of our advanced cameras. Especially when using complicated flash photography set ups. And even when we do adjust the camera controls manually, we often base our initial exposure considerations on a meter reading.
photo by arisara1978 via iStock
While the exposure meters of our modern cameras are excellent and the automated modes are useful, I consistently urge everyone to get out of the Green Dot fully automatic camera setting. That Green Dot setting doesn’t afford you any control over exposure or focus setting at all. Personally, I don’t even use it when I’m taking snapshots.
So, manual mode, semi automatic, programmed automation, flash automation, all can be used effectively for advanced photography. The RAW file format setting however, is more akin to our film choice than an exposure setting.
photo by Anchiy via iStock
JPEG is a standard file format that can be used or viewed across a wide variety of devices from cameras to computers to digital photo frames and is all over the internet. It’s a great format for sharing and viewing. But there is a better choice for shooting, and that’s RAW.
The RAW file format holds much more information about our scene exposure than JPEG. With this extra exposure information, we can use our post processing program to fine tune the image. It’s like the darkroom of our digital photographic process, where we handled film and printing. Which segues to my number 4 of basic landscape photography tips.
Tip 4: Learn Basic Post Processing
Photo by Jiarong Deng from Pexels
This step freaks out more photographers than the thought of going all manual. Post processing is seen by some photographers as either difficult or boring. It doesn’t have to be either. In fact it can be a simple and enjoyable part of our landscape photography.
Admittedly, some post processing can be difficult and some programs seem to put you through a whole lot of steps to give you an end result. For instance, whenever I have to do something that only a very powerful program like Adobe Photoshop can do, I use my cheat sheets and review tutorials on the subject (even some I’ve produced myself).
photo by Maksym Azovtsev via iStock
However, many of the newer programs, such as Lightroom, ACDSee, or Photoshop Elements have made post processing less complicated, more intuitive as a photographer instead of feeling like a computer programmer.
If you’re shooting in RAW file format, you will need to get familiar with at least one simple post processing program. Check out our article on the subject to find one you can be comfortable using.
Tip 5: Protect Your Landscape Photography Gear
Photo by Asad Photo Maldives from Pexels
This is an important step for various styles of photography, landscape photography introduces hazards of the great outdoors which can negatively impact our camera equipment.
Impact is one of the major concerns. Banging around our cameras, lenses, and other items isn’t going to help out our photographic imaging. Even the more rugged, weather resistant cameras and lenses benefit from being protected.
The right type of camera strap and a good bag can keep our gear safe and allow us to not miss out on making good landscape images. The bag and strap that came with your camera can be improved on without spending a lot. I look for things that are comfortable, well made, durable, as well as functional in the field.
A nice bag I’ve been using for day trips is from Hazard4®, manufacturer of tactical and protective photographic gear. It’s the Plan-B Hard™ sling pack. I like the sling pack style for outdoor photography since I can carry it comfortably and then rapidly swing into position to access my gear.
Some beneficial features of the Plan-B Hard™ in addition to the sleeping pack styling are YKK® zippers and real Cordura® 1000D nylon that won’t be affected by changing conditions outdoors, hot or cold. It has a molded hard shell, lots of interior room and adjustment, plus patent pending strap and hardware for safety plus rapid access to our camera and lenses.
Other ways we protect our camera gear are in some of our product reviews available on this website.
Tip 6: Try Out What You’ve Learned
All of these landscape photography tips are mere words until we start putting them to use. The process of making outstanding landscape images is enjoyable and accessible to any level of photographer.
Start using those exposure techniques, special photographic processes, filters, and anything else physically or mentally you’ve picked up. Get into the right frame of mind and start shooting. Show us your results, too, that’s a huge part of the fun for all of us.