10 Tips To Take Your Landscape Photos To The Next Level
This article is both for beginners and advanced landscape photographers. I figured I’d list some tips to hopefully give you some inspiration and give you some new options to try out in your landscape photography.
This article was first published on Reddit and later on Petapixel. In the era of social media, I notice a lot of people just copy photos they see on Facebook or Instagram. This happens to me a lot. I always try to be creative and find ‘new’ angles myself. For some people, getting creative comes naturally, but others will need a bit of a push. This article will hopefully help.
Here are 10 tips that will hopefully be helpful to get that extra bit in your shots.
Tip #1. Most landscape photos are shot with wide lenses. I love wide lenses myself, but try a telephoto and experiment with long focal lengths of 100mm-300mm+. Try photographing patterns or small details in landscapes. Or try it in the mountains on mountain tops. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll notice that a whole new world of landscape photography opens up. Seriously, try it.
Green Hills close up at 300mm
Tip #2. Play with motion. Clouds move, water moves. Try to create dynamics in your frame by the use of moving water or clouds. You can do this by using long or short shutter speeds. You can make use of filters to create longer exposures or create drama with very short exposures. Always experiment with different exposure times with both clouds and water.
Short exposure to capture drama
Long exposure of the same scene with a different composition to create a totally different mood
Tip #3. Experiment with a CPL filter. I did landscape photography without a CPL filter for years. But once you have one, you start to see why it can be so useful in different cases. It can be especially useful to control the amount of sunlight and reflection on reflective surfaces — you can’t simply do this in post-production.
Tip #4. When photographing with longer lenses, use layers and compression. Landscapes look totally different with long lenses and you can compress foreground and background objects to give a lot of depth to your photo.
Compressed Road shot at 135mm
Including a person with a long lens shot at 200mm
Tip #5. Use light to your advantage. Light always changes especially during sunsets and sunrises. Look for details here and isolated objects by light. This happens a lot in the mountains where clouds and light play around peaks go on during the whole day.
First Morning Light hitting a mountain peak
Tip #6. When shooting with wide angles, get very close to objects to create a lot of depth in your photo. By ‘very close,’ I mean VERY close. So close that your lens almost touches the foreground object. This can be a flower, a plant, or anything. You can use focus stacking to get everything in focus or choose to pick a very wide open aperture to get the foreground completely out of focus/blurry. Both choices offer different looks and can both be used in nice ways.
Getting very low and close with Out of Focus foreground
Getting very low with focus stacking
Tip #7. Make use of sun stars in your composition. When shooting directly into the sun and closing down your aperture to f/16-f/22 you will see that your lens will create a sun star. Different lenses have different characteristics. Some lenses create beautiful sun stars and you may want to make use of them. Position the sun against an edge, like the horizon or just an object in the frame. By positioning it slightly against an edge, the sun stars will look best. Try and experiment!
f/22 sunstar with the sun peaking just over the treeline
Sun just touching the edge of an object to create a sunstar
Tip #8. Learn how to shoot with extreme wide angle lenses and fisheye lenses. By extreme wide, I mean wider than 14mm (full frame equivalent). Photographing at 10mm-12mm or wider with fisheye lenses give you a whole new perspective of a landscape. It opens up lots of (creative) possibilities. Learn the ‘defish’ technique that makes it possible to create a non-distorted shot out of a fisheye shot (not going to describe the technique here, but it can be found online). This can be extremely useful for photographing very wide landscapes.
Vertigo shot with 180 degree fisheye and corrupted with lens profile
Wide scene shot with 12mm fisheye 180 degrees, corrected so no distortion appears
Tip #9. Don’t always immediately take your camera out and look for potential frames. Walk around in nature and use your eyes. Try to visualize how things would look through your camera. I also often use my smartphone, which has an around 20mm field of view. Simply to check framing.
Random spot I found next to the road
Tip #10. This may sound very obvious, but it’s important to train your eye nonstop. Look around you everywhere and try to see potential compositions in everyday life. This may sound hard and being a landscape photographer can be very tiring because of the nonstop possibilities nature offers. You train your eye by using a wide array of lenses so that you know how things will look through an extreme zoom lens, or how things would look with an extreme wide angle.
Cold Morning, just looking around
Hope these tips were helpful :). For a list of gear I use check my page on Amazon. Ordering items through my links give me a small commission and it doesn't cost you anything extra.