photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock
Making better landscape photos is within the grasp of any photographer. In these 4 tips for how to take better landscape photos, we’ll cover a few simple landscape photography tips and some budget friendly landscape photography gear.
You can create better landscape photos by looking for compositional variety, using all of your lenses, steadying the camera, and trying HDR photography.
Look for Compositional Variety
photo by Peter Vahlersvik via iStock
As a photographer wanting to create better landscape photos, you will use all of the current skills you’ve already mastered. A great set of landscape photography skills are composition tools.
One of the first rules of composition learned by all photographers is the rule of thirds. Using the rule of thirds creates balance in our images and is so simple to do that we start seeing everything as this rule, even when we don’t have a camera in our hands!
Funny thing about these rules we learn for photography, they’re really more like a set of guidelines or good suggestions. Some landscape views will actually create a better image when we change our composition to something else or add in another composition tool.
Other composition rules we can use for better landscape photos are s curves, leading lines, the golden spiral, symmetry, negative space, and centering.
There is an exercise I like to do which often opens my eyes to better or at least more ideas for how to compose a landscape scene. I make a mental list of my favorite rules of composition and run them through in order as I’m viewing the scene in my viewfinder.
What often happens is that I end up with an image that looks better than if I merely stuck with the basic rule of thirds. Sometimes, a blend of two or more rules of composition will work as well, such as using an s curve as a leading line within a rule of thirds balanced scene. Try it out, it’s a lot of fun.
Use All Your Lenses
photo by Don Miller via iStock
A high quality ultra wide angle lens is one of my favorite tools of landscape photography gear or cityscape gear. When we see a beautiful vista in front of us, most of us almost automatically reach for our super wides in our bags.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but we can get into a rut if we’re not thinking of all our options. An excellent option is probably already in our camera bags, a long telephoto lens. Isolating a single element within the landscape might be just the option that makes a better photo.
We might have any number of different lenses from fisheye to super telephoto and also some fast single focal length lenses that we could take a look through to see if that makes a better landscape photo for us. Combine both landscape photography tips, varying composition and lenses, for even more options.
Steady the Camera
Many times we use small lens apertures for landscape photography in order to maximize depth of field. A smaller lens aperture means we’ll need to use a longer shutter speed to get correct exposure. Even though our new camera may have a well designed image stabilization feature, we’re usually better off using a camera support of some type when the shutter speeds get very long.
You probably have a very nice tripod, but there are times we may not want to carry a tripod and would rather use a tripod alternative. OctoPad is one of the best tripod alternatives for making better landscape photos. It’s small, lightweight, and very budget friendly.
OctoPad is a weighted disc of semi-rigid material with a non-slip pad underneath and a ball head on top. It can be stowed in a backpack, sling pack, or camera bag and will hold your camera on virtually any surface at up to a 45 degree angle.
So go ahead and dial in a very small aperture for extreme depth of field, use a super telephoto lens for isolating a subject, or set a long shutter speed for water blurring even though you left your large tripod behind. This also helps you with the next of our landscape photography tips.
Bracket and Merge HDR
photo by valio84sl via iStock
Shooting in RAW allows you to pull out a lot of shadow detail in landscape images, but there are situations that will give us better landscape photos if we learn high dynamic range photography (HDR), also called the bracket and merge technique.
Bracket and merge HDR is extremely useful for capturing sunsets and sunrises in our landscapes as it allows for detail showing in the darker or shadowed areas of the image without losing any of the subtle colors in the sky, clouds, or water reflections during these times of the day.
HDR requires you to capture several image files at different exposure values in order to merge them together in a post processing program to make one final image. The number of separate exposures might be 3, 5, or even more and these need to be able to register together without any camera movement, so the camera support in tip number 3 is useful here, too.
Using these landscape photography tips with equipment and techniques you already know will result in your creating better landscape photos in many situations.