- Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams
- Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
- Insights from Beyond the Lens: Inside the Art & Craft of Landscape Photography
Whatever it is you want to learn in life, mistakes are part of the learning process. Landscape photography is no exception, it’s actually something you get good at by making a lot of mistakes. Here are eleven of the most common and how to fix them.
No. 1 - Photographing in dull light
Serious and professional landscape photographers will often wait for hours or even days at a location for the perfect light. Beginners and non-pro shooters most often don’t have that luxury. They get to a place and photograph it in whatever light is available. Of course a lot of times, the available light is dull or flat.
Solution: Boring light is the enemy of good landscape photos. Remove the color from your photos and add a little more contrast. Also, consider changing the skies or adding some clouds for extra drama.
No. 2 – Tilted horizons
This is one of the most common mistakes. It is the result of lack of experience and often lack of patience.
(Does this horizon look a tad off? LOL)
Solution: Turn on the guidelines options in your camera menu and use them when framing through the viewfinder or LCD to get a perfectly straight horizon.
No. 3 – Bad composition
This is one of the worst, yet most common mistakes. Composition is crucial in landscape photography because you have to create balance between foreground, middle ground and background, not to mention making all the elements work together in the frame.
Solution: There is no way around this: study composition thoroughly. Read books, study, keep shooting and might I strongly suggest a set of photography specific cards to help you master composition. It’s one of the simplest ways to master this important skill.
No. 4 – Over exposed skies
You've probably taken shots in the past where the ground is well exposed but the sky is completely blown. This is a natural limitation for all cameras and it rarely has to do with bad settings.
Solution: Purchase a Neutral Density (ND filter). It’s simply the best option to deal with this issue.
No. 5 – Obvious use of ND filters
ND filters are indeed very useful, but when wrongly used, they leave an ugly, very noticeable difference in light between ground and sky.
Solution: Consider fixing this problem with a bit of post processing or switch to a filter with less stops.
No. 6 - Less sharp foreground or background
Landscape photography is one of the few genres that demand everything to be in focus. A huge depth of field is therefore necessary and beginners often have a difference in sharpness between foreground and background
Solution: Close down the aperture as much as possible. Optimum values xt influence image sharpness and ignoring just one of them will lead to a blurred or soft image.
No. 7 - Blurred
There are a number of factors that influence image sharpness and ignoring just one of them will lead to a blurred image.
Solution: Make sure you check everything. Shoot with the camera mounted on a tripod and use a remote to click the shutter. Use a lower ISO value and f- stop range between 8 and eleven. Make sure to shoot RAW.
No. 8 – Hard Shadows
They are often the result of poor exposure or improper lighting conditions.
Solution: The ideal solution is to stop shooting in harsh daylight. But if you can't avoid that, use Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw to soften the shadows, but make sure not to overdo it and end up with a kitschy HDR shot.
No. 9 - No foreground
The foreground is a part of the image that will simply make it more interesting to view. Without it, the picture will most likely look empty or like it’s missing something.
Solution: Start adding a foreground to your landscapes. It can be anything from flowers to rocks.
No. 10 - Over saturation
Photographers will often try to compensate for taking a less interesting shot by increasing saturation. Generally, this isn't a bad thing, but it’s very easy to go overboard and end up with a picture that looks like it was taken at Disney.
Solution: Be moderate when playing with saturation. Don’t overdo it when you want to turn it up a notch.
No. 11 - Photographing classic scenes
Whenever you're in an interesting location, particularly one with a popular name, you have to take in mind that other photographers have been there before you. Amateurs often forget this and shoot from the exact same perspective you can find on postcards.
Solution: Walk around and find a better angle, a perspective that is harder to get to and is less likely to have been photographed by an entire army of camera owners and photographers.