- Best Camera Settings for Landscape Photography
- 3 Common Landscape Photography Mistakes and What You Can Do To Fix Them
Getting to the point where you take amazing landscape photos will take a some time and practice, to be sure.
But if you're equipped with a few landscape photography tips from the pros, you'll get to that point much sooner.
The techniques outlined below might seem quite simple, but their impact on your photography is undeniable.
After all, these are secrets that professional photographers use!
Editor's Tip: Don't just rely on your camera and lenses to get the shot. Help your camera out by using high-quality lens filters.
Keep Your Landscape Photography Settings Simple
Some professional landscape photographers shoot in full manual mode because it gives them the ultimate level of control over the camera's settings.
But unless you're a pro, learning how to take landscape photos often means simplifying the camera settings a little bit.
Fortunately, you can do that without sacrificing the quality of the shot.
Rather than shooting in full manual, try shooting in aperture priority mode (A or Av on your camera's dial)
In aperture priority mode, you control the aperture and ISO while the camera selects an appropriate shutter speed.
Select an aperture setting of f/8 or f/11. Minimize the ISO setting (i.e., 100 or 200). These settings will work for most landscapes, so you can set them and forget them more often than not.
Not only that, but these settings will help you maximize the depth of field to ensure everything in the shot is in sharp focus.
Additionally, set your camera's metering mode to evaluative or matrix metering, which tells the camera to read the light values in every part of the shot.
This will help you get a well-exposed image from shadows to highlights.
Use Filters to Help You Get Amazing Landscape Photos
Years and years ago when I started out in photography, I never used filters. I didn't have any to begin with, but I also didn't understand just how valuable lens filters are for landscape photographers.
A perfect example is when you're shooting a landscape and the sky is super bright but the landscape is cast in shadow.
When that wide dynamic range occurs, cameras struggle to accommodate all the range of light values. The result (as I discovered over and over again when I was a beginner) is usually a photo that's well-exposed for the sky or well-exposed for the landscape, but not both.
That's where a graduated neutral density filter comes in.
The Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Ultra Soft-Edge Graduated Neutral Density Filter shown above will be a Godsend to your landscape photography.
That's because graduated ND filters darken the sky without having any effect on the landscape. That's why the filter has that gradual change from dark to light.
Just pop one of these in a filter holder that's attached to the end of your lens, and you can say goodbye to those difficult dynamic range situations as described above.
Better still, there's different densities of graduated ND filters, so you can use a 1-stop filter when the dynamic range isn't all that big and a 5-stop filter when the sky is really bright.
There are also soft-edge and hard-edge filters to accommodate different landscapes.
If you're photographing a landscape like the one above in which there's a definite horizon, a hard-edge grad is the way to go. But if there's trees protruding into the sky, an uneven mountaintop, or other elements interfering with the horizon, a soft-edge grad is the better choice.
The first time I used a graduated ND filter I was astonished at how much of an impact it had on my photos - and it was a cheap, crappy filter!
Just imagine what your photos will look like if you start using one of the best graduated NDs on the market today - the Firecrest Ultra!
Editor's Tip: Another must-have filter for landscape photographers is a polarizer. Learn all about their virtues here.
Professional Landscape Photography Tip: Compose With Balance in Mind
Our eyes love to see things that are visually balanced - that's why symmetrical things often grab our attention.
In landscape photography, it's tough to get symmetrical shots, unless of course there's water involved to reflect the features of the landscape as shown above.
But you don't have to have a symmetrical composition to have a shot that's visually balanced...
In the photo above, you can see how two very different elements help to balance out this image - the buildings on the left and the mountain on the right.
The mountain is clearly a much larger feature, but because the buildings are closer to the camera, they occupy about the same space in the shot.
What's more, the bright red color of the buildings is an attention-grabber, which furthers their ability to balance out the bulk and heft of the mountain on the right.
By using features like color and perceived size, you can achieve a photo with much better visual balance, even if one of the elements you're using is much smaller than the other.
Give this and the other tips outlined above a try, and see just how much your photos improve as a result!