- What is Focal Length? A Beginner Photographer's Guide
- Best Camera Settings for Landscape Photography
- The Best Filters to Have in Your Bag (and Why You Need Them)
- Do You Really Need a UV Filter?
- Is a Full Frame or Crop Sensor Camera Better for Landscape Photography?
- Quick and Easy Tips for Improved Long Exposures
- The Number One Reason Why Your Landscape Images are Off
- 4 Ideas for Unique Landscape Photography
I don't know about you, but landscape photography is an escape for me.
I love grabbing my camera and heading to the beach or the mountains or places in between to see what gorgeous pictures of landscapes that I can create.
But for many photographers (myself included), the beautiful scenes we see with our eyes don't always translate into the image we take.
With these landscape photography tips, I think you'll find it more likely that what you photograph matches what you see.
Use Different Lenses for Landscape Photography
I don't typically advocate for buying more gear because I think that with the basic essentials (more on that in a minute) that you can take some stellar photos.
But when it comes to lenses, you do a disservice to your photos if you only shoot with one focal length.
Most of us have kit lenses that give us a decent variety of wide-angle to standard views, but if you want to expand the possibilities for your photos even more, picking up a second or third lens is a great way to do that.
A typical kit lens has an 18-55mm focal range, which on an APS-C camera is more in the range of 27-83mm of effective focal length (though that will vary depending upon your camera's crop factor).
The point is that since many photographers shoot with crop sensor cameras, they don't really get that wide-angle view out of their kit lens.
So, if you ask me, getting a wider lens, like a 12mm or 14mm is a must for APS-C shooters.
Though it might not seem like a huge difference, a 12mm lens on a crop sensor camera acts like an 18mm (or so) lens, giving you about 30 more degrees of view over a typical kit lens (though, again, this varies).
That means you can capture the grandeur of a landscape more effectively because you can document more of the scene than you otherwise could.
Get Good Filters
Many, many years ago, when I started in photography, I ordered a set of no-name filters off of Amazon.
I didn't know any better at the time, but my poor choice in filters soon became apparent when the image quality of my photos was greatly diminished.
Had I done some research prior to the purchase, I would've known that the quality of the glass you put in front of your lens has a marked impact on the quality of your images.
Fortunately, I only spent about $25 for a UV filter, a circular polarizer, and a neutral density filter, so I wasn't out much money.
Don't make the same mistake, though.
When it comes to high-quality photo filters, it's like getting a high-quality lens.
Filters like those from Formatt-Hitech are constructed with Firecrest anti-reflective multicoating, which means the images you take will have much-improved color fidelity and contrast.
With that added punch, you can more accurately convey what the scene looks like in real life in your photos.
That's especially true if you use a Firecrest Circular Polarizer, because they help boost the contrast in the sky while minimizing glare off of non-metallic surfaces.
In fact, if you add one filter to your kit, make it a polarizer because it also reduces atmospheric haze, making distant landscape elements appear more crisp and clean in the shot.
Another must-have filter for landscape photographers is a graduated neutral density filter.
These filters are made for the express purpose of helping you even out the dynamic range in your photos, that way you don't have an overly bright sky with a dark foreground.
The filtering power is on the top of the filter (as shown above), thereby darkening the sky without impacting the foreground. These filters transition from dark to light either very gradually (a soft-edge grad) or very quickly (a hard-edge grad).
A soft-edge grad is great for landscapes that don't have an abrupt horizon, that way you can't see the transition from filtered to unfiltered. But if there's a strong horizon, like looking out at the ocean, a hard-edge grad is perfect because you can align the transition of the filter with the horizon to get a perfect shot.
Either way, the result is an image that retains all the detail in the sky and the foreground, but without all the complications of having to stack multiple exposures together.
There are other filters you can add to your kit later on - a UV filter to protect your lens glass, a neutral density filter pack to take long exposures like the one shown above, and a reverse graduated neutral density filter to help you take better sunrise or sunset photos among them.
But for now, if you're just starting out, a polarizer and a graduated neutral density filter will suit you just fine and help you perfect your landscape photography technique.
Don't think that your work is done when the sun dips below the horizon.
Adding light to a landscape during dusk or at night is a fun way to get more unique images, add an interesting layer to your shots, and extend your learning with regard to how to take landscape photos.
You can do this by lighting up the scene with your car headlights or a flashlight, or aiming a headlamp towards the sky for a cool effect. You can build a fire and get some intimate shots of its glow illuminating trees around it as well.
The light you use doesn't even have to be seen to have an awesome effect.
If you have a tent handy, just turn on a lantern, head outside, and capture the bright color of the tent cast against the darkness of the surrounding landscape.
Taking photos like this is also a good foray into mastering the challenges of shooting at night.
The next step is to learn how to tackle astrophotography, and then you'll really be in for a landscape photography treat!
Use these quick tips for landscape photography to immediately improve your images, and the more you use them, the more impact your photos will have.