How to Take Great Landscape Photos
Taking landscape photos seems a lot easier than taking portraits of people and animals, but that’s often not the case. If you keep trying to make great landscape photographs but they keep looking like typical vacation slides, here are some useful tips for you!
Patience is the key to making great landscape photographs. There are a number of small elements that can change a photo from perfect to average. Whether you’re waiting for the clouds to clear, for the road to be empty, or the sun to shine out from the clouds, patience is important. Make sure you have some extra time at your location and check the weather report so you can plan your shot in advance as much as possible.
Carry a Tripod
Tripod is an essential asset to landscape photography. Most landscape photographs are taken in lower light conditions (sunrise and sunset) and a tripod is required to maintain the sharpness of the image. The same goes for long exposure photography, for which a tripod is absolutely needed. But even if you’re taking regular, high-speed photography, a tripod is still recommended for maximum sharpness. Consider using a remote shutter release mechanism for added camera stillness.
Use the Best Light
Light is extremely important in landscape photography. Having a great scene but bad light can ruin a photo. Generally, the best light for photography is at sunrise and sunset (the well known “golden hour”). But you can choose lighting conditions that best compliment your scene; there are amazing landscape photographs captured on stormy or cloudy days.
Maximize the Depth of Field
In landscape photography, you generally want to keep as much in focus as possible. The easiest way to achieve this is by setting your aperture to a larger number. Keep in mind that the larger the number, the less light is entering your camera; so that tripod and remote shutter release will really be handy! Of course, you can experiment with shallow depth of field as well, being creative is always good in photography.
Choose the Right Location
The best landscape photographs are the ones showing you a view or a location in a way you haven’t seen them before. To make your photos stand out, go the extra mile. Go to a location that’s not so popular, or photograph a popular location from a different perspective. Carefully plan the location and the time beforehand. Come a bit earlier than planned to set everything up and leave some room for error.
Filters are another piece of equipment that is important for great landscape photos. Polarizing filters are great for enhancing colors, or minimizing reflections from the sun when taking pictures of water. Neutral density (ND) filters are useful during the day when you want to shoot at slower shutter speeds. Graduated ND filters help even out the exposure of the sky and the ground. UV filters are sometimes used for lens protection, but using them is not recommended outside of extreme circumstances (i.e. during a sandstorm) since even the highest quality ones affect the quality of the image.
Plan Your Composition
Planning your composition is the most important step for a great photograph. There are many techniques you can utilize. If the sky is bland, you don’t want it to take up too much space. Use the Rule of Thirds and leading lines to get the viewers’ attention. Think about the foreground of the image as much as the background. Pay attention to the overall balance of the image. Carefully look at everything in your frame; you don’t want a stray branch poking from one side or half a bush at the bottom of the image.