- 5 Creative Ways to Use Golden Hour Lighting
- Add Interest to Your Landscape Photography by Shooting During Blue Hour
- Here's the Key to Better Landscape Photos With One Simple Trick
- 6 Tips for Landscape Photography With a Telephoto Lens
- Polarizing filters, which reduce glare, minimize atmospheric haze, and increase the contrast between the sky and the clouds, which results in a cleaner, crisper, and more contrasty image.
- Neutral density filters, which allow you to use longer shutter speeds during the daytime to blur the effects of movement, such as clouds, water (as shown above), or even vehicles.
- Graduated neutral density filters, which even out the bright sky with the often darker landscape, resulting in an image that is well-exposed throughout.
Those of us that enjoy photographing landscapes know that there's a huge amount of work that goes into creating images like the one shown above.
I mean, I wish I could tell you that it's as easy as pulling the car over, rolling the window down, and snapping a photo in full auto mode, but it's not!
But it doesn't have to be overly complicated, either.
In a sea of landscape photography recommendations, tips, tricks, and tutorials, there's a few things that always come up, over and over again, as the most important factors in creating a great landscape photo.
Here's a few of those tips.
Shoot During Golden Hour
The period after sunrise and before sunset - Golden Hour - is ideal for landscape photography.
You have the advantage of working with incredible light that's soft, warm, and casts long shadows across the landscape.
The warmth of the light gives landscape images a nice glow while the shadows are soft, giving the image excellent depth and dimension.
Another alternative is to shoot during the Blue Hour, which occurs just before sunrise and just after sunset.
Instead of warm, golden light, Blue Hour features deep, dark blue tones, as you might expect.
Either way, Golden Hour or Blue Hour will give your landscapes more drama!
Connect the Foreground to the Background
In portraiture, you often want to separate the subject from the background because it helps make the subject more prominent in the shot.
This is often done by using a shallow depth of field whereby the subject is sharply in focus but the background is nicely blurred.
But in landscape photography, you generally want to connect these elements in order to create a more complete visual story.
That means using tricks like leading lines to help provide a roadmap for where you want the viewer's eye to go.
It might also mean using layering techniques (as seen above), such that the image has more perceived depth due to the repeating nature of the elements in the shot.
Another way to help bring the foreground and background together is to shoot with a longer lens, which compresses the distance from front to back, making distant objects seem nearer than they really are.
Each of these techniques is really straightforward - it's just a matter of practicing them to gain confidence in your ability to implement them into your own photos.
Give Viewers Unique Angles
I'm well over six feet tall. But you know what? Taking landscape photos from my eye level is basically the same as someone that's barely five feet tall.
In other words, we all see landscapes from our traditional point of view all the time.
If you want to give viewers something unique, you're going to have to take more drastic measures than adjusting the eye level by a foot or two...
That means getting up high, perhaps on top of a hill or a mountain, and composing a shot looking down below. That will help you maximize the impact of the scale of the scene before you.
Conversely, you might get down low and shoot upwards, giving viewers a worm's eye view of the surroundings. This point of view emphasizes height as opposed to space.
These days, another option is to use a drone to get a true top-down perspective on the landscape below.
The point is that landscape photos are a dime a dozen, so if you want to capture the attention of viewers, you'll need to give them something that shows off a perspective they're likely not to have seen before.
Try Using a Frame
Earlier, I mentioned that using compositional tools like leading lines can help you create images with more depth.
Frames offer the same benefits.
A frame within a frame is an instant way to capture a scene in a unique way that also has greater dimension.
What's more, a frame within a frame gives you the ability to mask out part of the scene that you might not want in the shot, like other photographers roaming around.
Not only that, but a frame within a frame helps you direct the viewer's attention deeper into the shot and can help make the primary subject in the shot that much stronger from a visual perspective.
In addition to the composition tricks outlined above, you can also use filters to create more dynamic and interesting landscape photos.
There are a variety of filters you might find useful in your photography pursuits, including:
You can even get reverse neutral density filters, which are specifically designed for sunrise and sunset photos.
These filters are darkest in the middle - to correspond with the light of the rising or setting sun on the horizon - less dark on the top to account for the sky, and with zero filtering on the bottom to account for the darkened landscape.
UV filters are also popular, mostly for their use as an added layer of protection for your expensive lens glass.
But beware - not all lens filters are made equally...
If you want the best landscape photography filters, I'd go with Formatt-Hitech.
Not only are their filters made to the finest specifications with the best materials, but they simply provide you with the best performance.
Their neutral density filters feature a rare earth metal coating that gets you hyper neutral results without any color casting.
Their Firecrest polarizing filters (like the one shown above) have anti-reflective multicoating that ensures you get photos of the landscape before you, and not any glare or haze.
In other words, these filters enhance your ability to get the shots you want without breaking the bank, either.
And when you combine using top-quality filters with the composition tips outlined above, you've got a recipe for better landscape photos sooner rather than later.