Whether or not you’re an avid and proficient photographer or just happen to be getting started, the fantastic landscape photographs you’ll see on exhibition, online or in print all share a few things in common. When it comes to landscape photography the reality is that not only are you reliant on your own ability and skill-set of seeing and composing an image, but you’re always reliant on Mother Nature herself! Irrespective of the kind of weather you happen to encounter, there’s a plethora of opportunities to be able to capture spectacular landscape photographs.  

Location  Matters 

Just as much as it is about the actual process of photography, landscape photography is also equally about planning. It’s important to always have a clear idea of where you’re planning to go, and just as importantly… what time of the day will present the opportunity to capture the best photograph that you’re looking for. Be sure to learn how to competently read and follow maps, and also understand how you can utilize them to find the ideal and sought-after location. By being thorough enough to actually plan your exact location, you’ll be able to maximize your time there, and make sure that not only do you get to your location safe and securely in ample time, but also find your way back… which for the most part… is after sunset.

Practice Patience

It is uncanny how many times the natural elements seem to ‘conspire’ and work against you to ruin a perfectly composed photography. For this reason, landscape photography requires high levels of patience, just in case that white cloudy sky disperses just long enough to allow the sun to break through for you to take your shot. The trick is to allow yourself the right amount of time at any given location- this way you’re able to wait for that ‘picture perfect’ moment if you need to. Be certain to check weather forecasts prior to leaving as forward planning in advance can be a massive help, subsequently increasing your opportunity and chances of the ideal weather you require suiting your needs.

Do! Not! Be! Lazy! 

One of the reasons we are often stunned by impressive landscape photos is because it is a view taken in a way that we have never seen before. A photo taken from the top of a mountain which requires a huge amount of time and effort to get to, is a view that most people won’t get to see for themselves. So don’t rely on easily accessible viewpoints, that everyone else can just pull up to and see. Instead, look for those unique spots (providing they are safe to get to) that offer amazing scenes, even if they require determination to get there.

Utilize the best Light 

One of the most important and pivotal factors in any photography is light, and even more so in landscape photography. If the light doesn’t do any justice to the scene or compliment the shot, it becomes inconsequential how great the location is, or how your photo is composed- if the light isn’t good, then the image will fail. The best and choice light for landscape photography late in the afternoon or early in the morning, with the midday afternoon sun offering the harshest light. Part of the challenging factors of landscape photography is about being competent and readily able to adapt and cope with various lighting conditions. However, a major part of the challenge of mastering landscape photography is about having the ability to adapt and cope with various lighting conditions. Stunningly shot landscape photos can be taken on cloudy or stormy days for instance.  The key is to use the best light as much as possible, and be able to influence the look and feel of your photos to it.

Be Armed with a Tripod 

Essentially, if you’re looking to take the best photographs, during the best time of the day, at the highest possible quality, then a tripos is a crucial piece of equipment. Photography in low light conditions such as early in the morning or early evening for example, without a tripod would require an increase in ISO to be to avoid camera shake, which subsequently means a result in more noise in your images. If you’re wanting to capture a scene using a slow shutter speed or long exposure (an example would be capturing the movement of water or clouds) you simply will not be able to hold the camera steady enough without the use of a tripod to avoid blurred images from camera shake.  

Maximize the Depth of Field 

Selecting your depth of field is a pivotal component of capturing exquisite landscapes. Generally landscape photos demand the vast majority of the photo to be sharp (the foreground and the background) so you require a deeper depth of field than if you’re shooting a portrait for someone. However, if used correctly and efficiently, a shallower depth of field can also be a powerful creative tool as it can isolate the subject by keeping it sharp, whilst the rest of the image is blurred.

As a starting point, if you are looking to keep the majority of the photo sharp, set your camera to Aperture Priority (A or Av) mode, so you can take control of the aperture. Start at around f/8 and work up (f/11 or higher) until you get the desired effect.

In our next feature article on Beginner Landscape Photography Hints: Part 2 we discuss and take an informed and detailed look into more the technical aspects that define a great landscape photo.

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