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Ask any photographer and I imagine they'll tell you that landscape photography is the most popular genre.
And for good reason...
It's not like there's a shortage of subject matter, and you really don't need fancy or specialized equipment to take great photos of landscapes.
However, that also doesn't mean that you can just walk outside, click the shutter, and end up with a winning shot.
Here's a few pro tips for landscape photography that will help you elevate the quality of the photos you create.
Planning is Key
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Though there is certainly something to be said for being spontaneous and pulling over on the side of the road to capture a beautiful sunset or taking the scenic route home to find hidden gems, by and large, the best landscape photos are the result of a ton of planning.
From scouting locations to keeping tabs on the weather to timing your arrival at the photo spot to take advantage of golden hour lighting, there's a lot that goes into laying the foundation of a spectacular image.
In fact, many pro landscape photographers will suggest that you scout the location ahead of time in person.
Doing so will give you the lay of the land, and you can see exactly how the light falls across the landscape at different times of day.
Is it a lot of work? Yes. But the results can be spectacular!
It's Not Just About Your Camera
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Though your camera is obviously an important component of capturing beautiful landscape photos, it's certainly not the only important piece of gear you need.
In fact, the lenses you use are much more important in terms of how the scene is captured and the quality of the images you take. If you put a lot of money toward any piece of photography gear, reserve the bulk of your budget for a really good lens.
But don't neglect other important gear, either.
In particular, a good, solid tripod will be one of the most important things you purchase.
When looking for a tripod, you want something that offers you tons of functionality.
The Sirui EN-2004 shown above and below, for example, has a leg that's removable for use as a tripod.
That's handy because not every shooting situation requires that you carry around the full tripod.
Additionally, this rig has a center column that can extend the height of the tripod for higher-angle shots. Conversely, it can be inverted so you can get ultra-low-angle shots, too.
Another feature to look for is a tripod that is easy to set up and tear down.
Again, the Sirui EN-2004 fits the big with automatic leg angle locks and multiple leg angle positions that make set up a breeze. That's helpful in those situations in which time is of the essence and you need to set your gear up fast.
The fact that this tripod also has retractable spiked feet is nice, too, given that you're bound to find uneven terrain when shooting landscapes.
It's lightweight as well, so it's easy to carry without getting fatigued. That's not a bad set of features if you ask me!
More is Not Better
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I know the feeling of wanting to photograph absolutely everything when I'm out adventuring, and my guess is that you do as well.
The problem with rapid-firing shots in every direction is that instead of getting high-quality photos, you end up with a whole bunch of so-so ones.
In the end, wouldn't you rather have a handful of really awesome shots than a pile of throwaways?
When you're out and about shooting photos, force yourself to take your time.
Think about the composition. Look at how the light falls across the landscape. Play with perspective.
The more thought and effort that you put into your landscape photos, the better they will be.
Learn How to Edit Your Photos
When I say "learn how to edit your photos," I mean really edit them in Photoshop, Lightroom, or another similar program.
What I do not mean is to "edit" them in Instagram...
Learning how to properly edit your landscape photos will help you bring out all the drama and detail in the original image.
What's more, it allows you to recover details in highlights and shadows, pump up the colors as needed, adjust the white balance, and other basics that will help your images shine.
Yes, learning how to edit photos is a laborious task, but once you master it, your photos will jump off the screen and have a greater ability to grab people's attention.
For a great tutorial on basic landscape photography post-processing tips, check out the video above by Peter McKinnon.