- Pay Attention to the Edges of the Shot
- Invest in a Graduated Neutral Density Filter
- Take Your Time
- Get More Tips
photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
Though landscape photography might seem to some as simple - just point your camera at something pretty and press the shutter - it’s far more involved in practice.
What’s more, to get the best-quality shot, there are some principles you need to live by.
From taking care when cropping your images to using the right photography gear to simply taking your time, there are plenty of simple, yet highly effective steps you can take to improve your landscape photography.
Table of Contents
How to Improve Landscape Photography: Pay Attention to the Edges of the Shot
photo by diegograndi via iStock
You know how the pros tell you that when you take a portrait that you need to check for oddities creeping into the shot, like a random tree branch or half a trash can?
These kind of elements distract the viewer's eye from the portrait subject and diminish the overall appeal of the photo.
Well, the same situation applies to landscape photography as well.
This requires you to take a few moments to check the framing of the shot in the field. Likewise, when you’re back home editing the photo, take a few extra moments to ensure that any cropping you do removes these sort of distractions (i.e., like cropping out the power lines in the bottom-right corner of the image above).
This is important because the best photos have a place for the viewer’s eyes to rest. It’s hard for them to do that when there’s distracting elements interfering with the subject!
photo by Eloi_Omella via iStock
In the image above, for example, I would argue that a stronger composition would have resulted had the photographer framed the road and parking area out of the foreground of the shot.
To my eye, it’s just distracting and certainly doesn’t fit the dreamy vibe going on in the rest of the photo.
All it takes is a few seconds to scan the photo and a few more seconds to reframe it or crop it. But those few seconds can make or break the shot, so it’s worth it!
How to Improve Landscape Photography: Invest in a Graduated Neutral Density Filter
Photo by stock_colors via iStock
Ask any landscape photographer what the most challenging aspect of getting a high-quality photo is, and my guess is a fair share will say getting the exposure just right.
What makes exposures so hard to get perfect in landscape photography is that the sky is bright and the landscape is much darker.
This wide dynamic range is too much for even the most expensive cameras to accommodate, so you often end up with images with a well-exposed sky and an underexposed landscape or a well-exposed landscape and a sky that’s totally blown out.
The easy solution to this problem is one of the best landscape photography tips you’ll ever get: use a graduated neutral density filter.
Graduated ND filters are dark on top and gradually lighten toward the bottom, as shown above.
This means that they darken the bright sky while having no effect on the brightness of the landscape.
Graduated neutral density filters come in varying strengths and both soft-edge and hard-edge.
If you compare the two images above, you can see the first one has a soft-edge transition between dark and light and the second one, in addition to being much darker, has a hard-edge or abrupt transition.
Obviously, darker filters filter out more light, and allow you to overcome extreme dynamic range. And while soft-edge graduated ND filters are great for landscapes in which there is no definite horizon, hard-edge graduated ND filters are ideal for scenes like looking out onto the ocean, in which the horizon is perfectly flat.
For my money, it's hard to beat the quality and price of Haida graduated neutral density filters.
Not only are Haida filters manufactured from high-quality optical glass, but they also feature NanoPro multicoating, which keeps dirt and smudges at bay.
Additionally, Haida's NanoPro multicoating helps minimize reflections and provides waterproofness and scratch-proof properties to the filter.
What's more, there is no color cast, so the results you get are truly neutral. Image sharpness is maintained as well for impeccable results.
You get all that (and a metal case) for a great price, too, so it's the best of both worlds!
How to Improve Landscape Photography: Take Your Time
photo by borchee via iStock
I’ve certainly been guilty of rushing things when I’m out shooting landscapes, so this piece of advice is something I struggle to put into practice.
However, we’ll all have better photos if we simply slow things down and take our time with each shot.
Landscapes don’t change that quickly, so it’s not like we have to rush around and fire off shot after shot as though we’re photographing sports or wildlife or a subject that actually changes very quickly.
photo by tomch via iStock
Instead, taking your time ensures that you get a better shot on many different levels.
As noted earlier, taking your time helps you frame up an image that has fewer distractions.
Taking your time also helps you dial in the most appropriate camera settings to get an ideal photo.
There’s also something to be said for taking a few moments to look around and discover better vantage points or better compositions to create an improved photo.
photo by benedek via iStock
Besides, if you slow things down just a bit, you might actually get to enjoy your surroundings!
A few years ago, I went to Grand Teton National Park for the first time, and all I did was zoom from one location to the next in my rental car.
I’d hop out, take a few photos, get in the car, and drive to the next location and repeat.
Needless to say, my photos look rushed (which is why there’s a stock photo above) and I remember very little about the scenery. I was pressed for time, but rather than trying to photograph the entire park in one day, I should have selected a couple of spots to photograph and enjoy instead!
How to Improve Landscape Photography: Get More Tips
If we’re talking about landscape photography techniques that will help you improve your images, it doesn’t get much easier than the three I’ve outlined above.
But if you want more instruction on how to improve landscape photography, check out the video above by Nigel Danson.
He’s a fantastic photographer, and as you’ll see, his videos are supremely informative.
Give it a look and you’ll find that his landscape photography tips for beginners will give you a leg up the next time you head out to shoot.