photo by gehringj via iStock
From what I’ve come across, landscape photographers are always more than welcome to share their knowledge (more so than other photographers), and because of this, landscape photography should be easy to conquer.
Landscape photography tips for beginners, the nitty, gritty specific ones you read last night at 2 a.m., make the trade a lot more difficult to grasp. So, I tried to compile tips for landscape photography that are overarching.
And hopefully it will make landscape photography a little more attainable, even without professional landscape photography gear.
Take Your Time
photo by RichLegg via iStock
“There are no secrets to success in landscape photography,” begins Scottish landscape photographer Wayne Robertson in a recent YouTube video. “Like most things in life, it takes knowledge, hard work and the odd failure thrown into the mix which helps us learn.”
“So, while there are no secrets for me to talk about in this video, I am going to talk about 4 practical tips which will last you a lifetime.”
The first practical tip he offers: take your time.
Obviously, Robertson lives in a naturally beautiful place: Scotland. So, taking your time includes exploring the landscape around you.
In the video above, Robertson encourages you to get the composition correct when you finally find the perfect shot. He is thinking through his reaction when he gets home and sees the shot on his computer screen before he ever takes a single picture.
Visualizing your shots before you take them will result in improved compositions that are far more pleasing than those rushed, run-and-gun type of photos so many of us often take as we hurry through a gorgeous landscape.
Think about THe Light (Not Just Golden HOur)
photo by SeanXu via iStock
Landscape photographers generally need to think outstide of golden hour. Good light can happen at any time and Robertson proves it.
“Most of the shots I took today wouldn’t have had the right light on the subjects in each of those images. Some of the trees would have looked quite dull; they would have been in the shade,” he says.
When you’re shooting complex landscapes, you can’t control the sun. If the direction of light during the golden hour isn’t working for the shot you want, come back at a differnt time and try it again.
photo by Jean-François Gagnon via iStock
Also, think about what would happen to landscape if you photographed it at night. You could try long exposures or even make star trails.
Take Photos That Make YOU Happy
photo by Worledit via iStock
Robertson encourages other photographers to take photos that resonate with them.
It’s not a bad thing to take inspiration from other photographers, but oftentimes we allow this to get in the way of our landscape photography because we are trying to take photos that would make other people happy.
Robertson only takes photos that make him generally giddy. When he’s scoping for the perfect shot, he’ll sit and watch the landscape for a handful of minutes. He’s trying to figure out the composition of the shot, sure, but he’s also enjoying nature.
photo by South_agency via iStock
In the video, a small bird crosses his line of view. While he says the bird would not have added anything to the photograph because it was so far away, he will remember sitting and watching the wildlife when he later looks back on the shot of the vista.
When you put yourself into your photography, you’ll make better art.
Work On Quality, Not Quantitiy
photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
The most shocking part of Robertson’s video is when he admits the hours-worked-to-pictures-shot ratio. Robertson trekked the landscape for around 9 hours and in those 9 hours he took 4 pictures.
That’s less than 1 photo every 2 hours!
While this may seem extreme to photographers (particularly photographers who grew up in the digital age), it’s an important lesson Robertson is trying to teach.
We all had a dad growing up who took way too many awful photos of family vacations, and while we’re glad we have some of them, taking the time to get the good ones could have saved time in the long run (both for him and for whoever has to inevitably sift through the photos 20 years down the line).
Get a Polarizing Filter
I talk about polarizing filters A LOT, but i feel far too few landscape photographers use one.
I recently wrote a tell-all article about how to use a circular polarizer, and in the article I discussed the reasons you need one for landscape shots.
A polarizer creates depth in your photos. It minimizes glare. It creates bright blue skies where before you had dull colors.
photo by Алексей Филатов via iStock
My favorite circular polarizer tips are the ones that function as two. Polarizers can act as ND filters if you’re looking to save some money in the short run. You dial it to maximum polarization and magically you can crank your aperture up as high as you want for long periods of time.
For those who are looking for a beginner’s circular polarizer, I always recommend Kenko’s Wide Angle Slim Ring. It’s the cheapest addition you can make to your photography collection at under $40 and it makes a huge impact.