- Mountain Photography Tips
- How To Photograph Plains and Prairies
- How To Photograph Rivers and Streams
- How To Improve Landscape Photography
- Long Exposure Tutorial: Beach Photography
- Why You Need a Filter Kit for Landscape Photography
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Landscape photography can be one of the most compelling artforms in all of photography, since unlike portraits or events, a landscape image can make anyone feel as though it is accessible to them. This is one of the key elements in how to get better at landscape photography, making people feel as though they are there in the image.
Technical prowess is vital for all great art, but for these landscape photography tips we’re going to focus a lot on landscape photography techniques that bring the viewer into the image. So the discussion will be both about those technical skills you’ve worked hard to achieve and the art behind great imagery.
Forget the Gear for a Minute
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To improve landscape photography, we look beyond merely thinking about what landscape photography gear we are using, though the gear does help us capture the picture we want, especially when used properly.
A good place to start is simply to enjoy the view before you. Now, your photographer's mind is already working on how to capture that view and that’s fine, that’s what we do. But what is it about the view that has you thinking that way? Take in the entire scene and then also look at interesting details. In other words, we’re going to train ourselves to see the forest AND the trees.
Do all this before you take your camera out of the bag. Two quotes I enjoy about landscape photography are from Yann Arthus-Bertrand: “The earth is art, the photographer is only a witness,” and Ansel Adams: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.”
Understand what it is about what you are seeing that compels you to share that with others. In cliche words, feel the moment. Now we can get into the landscape photography techniques and gear.
Composition That Draws Viewers In - Leading Lines
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One of the first things beginner photographers learn is the Rule of Thirds for composition. It’s an important guideline and it really does work well most of the time. For compelling landscape photography, something more than the balance of thirds is often needed.
Leading lines is a composition technique that automatically draws a viewer into the scene. Even while still maintaining the rule of thirds, we can place ourselves so that there is something leading from us or near our position. Shorelines, rivers, paths, a clump of trees, or a fence can all serve well to lead the viewer from where you are into the image.
You can vary the way you include the leading lines by leading in from one side and then the other, or the leading lines can be mostly centered. If you can, take pictures of several orientations and then decide when reviewing which images to post-process to completion.
The Beauty of Curves - C, S, and Spirals
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Along with leading lines and rule of thirds balance, including curves can also improve landscape photography images. Take a tour of an art museum and examine some of the landscape paintings from the Masters to see many examples of C curves, S and Reverse S curves, and the Golden Spiral.
Now, take that inspiration and apply to your landscape photography scene. Oftentimes, the line we’re using as a leading line will be a curve. Rivers, roads, shorelines, mountain ridges, all tend to naturally have curves.
Don’t limit yourself to only seeing curves from a horizontal thought, those rolling hills in the countryside and swells of waves on the ocean are curves in the vertical perspective. A great thing about the rules of composition for landscape photography is that you can ignore one in favor of another or you can combine several together in the same image.
Learn To Use Lens Filters
One of the top gear choices to improve landscape photography is a good set of lens filters, including circular polarizer (C-POL), neutral density (ND), and graduated neutral density (GND) filters.
Using filters for landscape photography is a good way to make the final image captured match up with the thoughts we came up with in our first step. Sometimes we simply need the proper tool to make our photograph work.
In digital photography, we don’t need to use filters to balance out color temperatures of the light or change color contrast for black and white, those things are done in camera or during post-processing. The three filters described above, C-POL, ND, and GND, are used to remove reflections, deepen contrast in sky and clouds, or balance out exposure values.
An excellent choice of landscape photography filters is the M10 filter system from Haida which combines high quality optics with convenience of filter use and placement. Your landscape photography deserves high quality filters to preserve the detail and beauty you’re working hard to capture, so you don’t want to skimp on your landscape photography filters.
Thankfully, filter systems like the Haida M10 Enthusiast Filter Kit II allow you to use one set of filters for all of your lenses by means of adapters, so the price of good filters for landscape photography is still reasonable for most budgets. The kit comes with a filter holder and the three filter types mentioned earlier.
Invest in a Good Camera Bag
Though a camera bag won't directly help you take a better photograph, it can certainly help keep you organized, keep your gear safe, and keep you comfortable over the course of the day (or multiple days).
To be honest, there are a lot of bags that fit the bill here, but one that certainly stands out among the rest is the f-stop Tilopa.
This is a big bag - it holds 50 liters of gear - so it can easily accommodate all the gear you need for a weekend adventure.
Inside you'll find f-stop's ICU - internal camera unit - that provides cubbies for your camera bodies and lenses that protect them from damage as you hike around looking for the ideal shot.
Outside, the bag has loads of goodies that make it the ideal companion for a landscape photographer.
It has an aluminum frame, super comfortable shoulder straps, a big, beefy waist strap, and it's water-resistant. Heck, there's even a rain cover that comes with it in case you're adventuring during the wet season.
This is just an all-around fantastic bag that will become one of the best accessories you have for your photography adventures. Check it out and see it for yourself!
Use Portrait Orientation for Landscape Photography
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We tend to think of landscape photography as using the horizontal landscape orientation, but some views are better presented to the viewer in vertical or portrait orientation.
Why not take pictures in both formats? A forest of tall trees, a jagged mountain peak, or a thunderstorm over the sea or a lake might look better when shot in portrait orientation, allowing the viewer to really see the view you observed in your mind’s eye.
Combine Landscape Photography Techniques
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The beauty of photographic rules is that they are all simply tools for us to use to create the images we want. We can adjust them, combine them, even break them if it leads to a better landscape photography image.
Learn to use lens filters to take complete control of exposure issues and vary your approach to what orientation to use. Take note of what composition techniques will enhance the scene you’re capturing. Spend a little time appreciating the view before using your camera.
Practice these landscape photography tips and then share your images with us and others so we can appreciate the art you captured with landscape photography.