10 Landscape Photography Tips
Learning just 10 landscape photography tips can allow you to take scenic shots that rival those seen on postcards and in magazines. Great landscape photos require more than pointing and clicking the camera. Taking a scenic photograph worthy of gracing your wall requires skill and a bit of technical know-how. The following tips that will have you snapping landscape shots like a pro in no time.
- Understand your camera. Knowing how to use your camera—whether its a $20 model or a $2,000 model—is the first step in taking great pictures. Read through your manual, and learn all about any special settings or features your particular model may have. Take time to experiment with these settings to get a feel for how they work and how they impact your photos.
- Choose an interesting subject. It may seem like a no-brainer, but choosing a scene that's worth looking at is important when it comes to taking great landscape photos. Look for scenes that are more than just pretty. Unique natural elements are ideal, but when shooting a more traditional landscape scene, look for areas that are interesting because of contrast or color.
- Shoot from a good vantage point. Or better yet, take photos from multiple points-of-view. Often the difference between a good landscape photo and a great one is simply the location it was taken from. Look at the scene through your viewfinder while standing, sitting, laying in the grass, hanging upside down, etc. You get the idea. You may be surprised to find that the best and most interesting shot comes from the most unusual vantage point.
- Find a focal point. That is, even if you are shooting a panoramic mountain vista, find something in the scene that stands out. It could be the one tree on a barren mountain or the colorful flower in a sea of grass. Whatever it is, make sure there is some detail in your photo that will grab the viewer's attention.
- Remember to pay attention to everything in the frame. While the details are important, its important to look at the big picture, too. Watch out for power lines, and make sure the top of your buddy's head isn't in the corner of your amazing shot. When shooting reflective surfaces like water, its a good idea to be aware of any reflections as well.
- Look for natural lines. When setting up your shot, look for some type of line such as a row of trees or a stream running through the scene. Lines create visual interest, and they will lead your viewer's eyes through the photo.
- Don't put the horizon right in the middle. When shooting landscapes, the photo is more interesting if the horizon line is placed in the top or bottom third of the scene rather than in the middle. Based on the Rule of Thirds, which divides each scene into three equal vertical and horizontal sections, this creates a more harmonious image. It also looks more natural and prevents the overall scene from appearing divided.
- Frame your shots. Frames within a photo draw the viewer's attention to the subject, and they add depth and perspective. Be creative! Anything can be used as a frame. Try looking at your subject through trees, branches, leaves, rock formations, or whatever else happens to be nearby.
- Use available light to your advantage. Lighting can be tricky to master, especially when working with only natural light, but doing so is a key factor in learning to shoot better landscape photography. Try taking pictures at different times during the day. Early morning and late evening sun can create dramatic, mysterious landscapes because of the shadows it creates. When you can't control the time of day you are shooting, lens filters and hoods reduce glare and create some interesting effects.
- Always have your camera ready. Great landscape photography takes practice. Make sure you always have your camera with you whether you're exploring a new land or taking a walk around the block. Shoot photos of anything you find interesting, making use of these landscape photography tips.