Landscape photography is one of the most popular niches of photography.
Whatever you find in front of you and your camera is a landscape – be it a stormy sea, a frosty forest or a sky-piercing tower, doused in sunlight.
There are many things that can help you achieve that brilliant landscape shot. Camera, lenses, tripods, filters and other accessories are particularly important. Here we will show you the best equipment to assist your landscape photography adventures.
Landscape photography requires different things from your camera than street or sports photography.
Your camera needs to capture as much detail as possible and perform at a high resolution. At the same time, you need to be able to use the dynamic range and know how to take advantage of your DSLR’s sensor. All these play a part in getting the best from your landscape photos.
The cost of lenses can range from $200 to $2000 and you might think that the higher the cost, the better the lens. This is true most of the time. There are also other factors you need to take into account.
All types of lenses follow different requirements. Some focus on light, others on chromatic aberrations and other unwanted effects. For landscape photography, we’re usually looking for a lens with a wide angle and maximum sharpness.
Nothing screams landscape photographer more than a tripod. It is a very necessary piece of equipment for capturing those highly detailed shots. The three keywords you should keep in mind when choosing the right tripod are sturdy, solid and lightweight.
Sturdy because it will need to deal with elements such as dirt and rain while being knocked around. Solid so that it really keeps your camera still while capturing that shot. And lightweight because you don’t want any extra weight holding you down.
For me, a tripod needs to be as versatile as the camera. It should allow me to either change the head or at least be able to shoot both portrait and landscape. It should also be easy to set up and use so that you do not miss any quick changes in the surrounding areas.
Stunning landscape photography isn’t just about focusing on your photographic kit. It’s also about getting to the best place to take the photographs.
Your apparel choice is very important to help you work in harsh environments. You shouldn’t forget to grab some gloves and thermal shirts to keep you warm, and hiking boots and a rain jacket to keep you dry.
There are even more helpful things you could bring along such as a good, ergonomic bag (your back will thank you) or a head torch. The article above will go through all of them for you.
Lens filters are extremely beneficial for landscape photography when used correctly. And the best part is that there’s a filter for everything!
- The UV (ultraviolet) filter is the most known, whose purpose has changed over the years from a necessity to useless
- The ND (neutral-density) filter is used to decrease shutter speeds for those long exposure shots
- The GND (graduated neutral-density) filter helps average out the huge difference between the sky and landscape
- And Polarised filters help to cut out glare and reflections
A neutral density filter pulls the light out of the scene you want to capture. This helps you correctly expose long exposures.
A graduated neutral density filter is a piece of glass that is an ND filter on one side, going from transparent to filter in a gradient. These are specifically for darkening one area of your scene.
The sky is the most basic reasons why you would want to use one of these filters. You will find that the sky is much lighter than the landscape or cityscape that you want to photograph.
A graduated ND filter will pull out the light, adding detail to that brighter area. This creates a more correctly exposed scene overall, instead of having an area one or two stops lighter than the others.
Read our article here on how to use them.
Camera Settings for Landscape Photography
Shooting in JPEG and raw uses the same number of pixels but the file size of the raw is about 5 times bigger than JPEG.
That extra file size comes from the image data that the raw file keeps and JPEG discards. This extra data allows you to get so much more range from exposure, colour and white balance in post-production.
Histograms are a step closer to becoming more professional in your workflow. They’re a mathematic review of how even your exposure is.
Using the LCD screen to determine how your highlights and shadows look can be misleading depending on ambient light. The histogram, however, is a clear indicator of under or overexposure.
You’ve seen it on almost every camera made in the last 50 years. A small icon of a person in a frame indicates a portrait and an icon of a mountain for landscape.
Fortunately, we have moved forward into a more refined age. These modes have turned into something useful, such as Av/A (Aperture Priority) and Tv/S (Shutter Priority).
Your Landscape photography can be immensely helped by Av/A mode. It lets you concentrate on exposure time and depth of field while keeping a correct exposure value.
Now that you have all of the equipment to get around in the great outdoors, you can move on to capturing the image.
Your aperture, shutter, and ISO all work together to give you that perfect exposure. This means not overexposing the highlights and underexposing the shadowy areas.
The in-camera metering modes are there to help you get as close as possible to the correct overall exposure. The shooting and focus modes help you highlight what the most important part of the image is and keep it in the best possible light.
Panoramas are a great way to show one spectacular view from a very wide angle. These are perfect from high altitudes, where you want to show everything from the same perspective. Especially if you can’t make up your mind over which angle to shoot from!
You can capture a panorama shot from any lens and a tripod. With a little help from post-processing, you can then create an iconic, memorable image and this article will show you how.
So you are out in the great outdoors, trying to replicate those beautiful landscape photographs you’ve seen before.
Maybe it isn’t going as well as you’d hoped or maybe you just need a little boost.
There is nothing better than being outdoors when you see the sun is setting. The sky lights up with colours you never even thought existed.
You grab your camera, aim, and shoot but it doesn’t quite come out how you envisioned it.
The sunset provides the golden hour but at the end of the day, rather than the beginning. This is great as you don’t need to get up early, and you can see when the sun will fall much easier.
Our article has 5 great tips on how to photograph the sunset perfectly. Like most landscape images, planning is paramount. This can be done with smartphone apps or scouting the area beforehand.
Photographs along the coastline and seascapes are landscapes, but they have their own specific techniques.
Any area of photography can be improved upon by using research. The research you should look at concerning the sea is about the tide and swell of the water.
The weather forecast is essential in this field. It will let you know when the tide is in or out. Some landscape areas will only work when the tide is out, revealing more of the landscape. This could turn a good image into a great one.
You will always find that no matter where you are, there are general landscape photography rules that apply. Things such as composition, perspective, and framing are all key.
Photographing in a forest, however, has its own extra set of challenges. You have to deal with the topographic element the forest offers, the less available light, and a possibly changing landscape.
With patience, practice, and our tips, you’ll be able to quickly improve your forest photography.
Creating black and white landscapes is a beautiful way to show the scenery. We look at black and white images very differently than those in colour.
The monochromatic style lets us focus on the texture, shape and contrast of a scene.
Colour can distract from the scene, where the strong greens and blues can take away importance from the overall image.
An image where the colours are not pleasing can be converted into black and white to create a more interesting landscape.
The desert is a great place to start with landscape photography. This is a landscape that rarely changes, so you can keep the same settings for long periods. This is good for practising.
Here, you can concentrate on shapes and forms of the area. Textures and shapes are also great things to look for as us, the viewers will find them interesting. Filling the frame will help make the scene seem gargantuan as the viewers perspective is limited. Get out there already!
There are a few reasons why you would want to use a long exposure. If you want to achieve the correct light exposure or remove unwanted clutter from images, for example.
It is also a great way to show movement when a still image is not enough.
Night photography means incorporating the starry skies alongside the scenery. And it comes with its own set of challenges.
Nighttime landscape photography means you have to keep moving objects like the stars still in relation to the scenery.
Light is the biggest challenge to overcome, so you should focus on dealing with low light conditions. Fast apertures, tripods, and trial-and-error are your best friends.
Any scene can be a landscape. The seaside, rolling hills – even photographing in the street can turn into a landscape photograph. It all depends on the focus.
Harsh weather conditions (think stormy clouds, not force 12 winds), can bring atmosphere and a sense of drama into an otherwise dull image.
The weather has the capacity of completely changing the mood of the landscape. It can provide a completely different experience for those viewing the final photograph.
You’ve heard it in so many different places: location, location, location. There is a reason it is so ingrained in us photographers. It actually matters where you set yourself up to photograph.
Some photographers don’t share their list of locations when it comes to their landscapes, others share geotags through platforms like Flickr and Shot Hot Spot. Other locations can be found with a little research.
There are even apps that help you visualise what the location will look like at a particular time of day. Judging sunlight and moon positions, these can give you all the information you need to find that great scene.
Seasonal Landscape Photography Tips
As a landscape photographer, you should go out before sunrise, before sunset, during nighttime and during all weather conditions.
The seasons are no different. That lake might be boring during the Summer, but during the Winter months, it turns into a frozen wonderland.
All those bare trees bloom during Spring and the sun becomes stronger.
Each season has different benefits for photography – here’s what you have to look forward to during each.
Winter is over. Things are growing again, and the sun starts to strengthen. Exploiting this newfound sun gives you shadows and a fresh look at recovering vegetation. You can use these to focus your viewer’s attention on particular areas of your photo.
The weather conditions are also working in your favour. Fog and dew can help you to take better, more atmospherical images. Spring photography can even lead to some mystical, dreamy photos!
Shooting During the Summer
You would think that summertime photography is the easiest and most enjoyable. The sun is shining all the day, everything’s in bloom and there’s not a cloud in the sky. That might work for some pictures, but not all.
It becomes tricky if you want any definition and detail from clouds, or don’t want to stay out until 10 pm waiting for the sun to finally dim a little. Here you’ll find some tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of summer landscape photography and make great photos instead.
You’ve photographed everything green. And then photographed it again. But now it’s fall! The season of colour. You can take advantage of all the beautiful scenery to create some stunning pictures.
Isolating colours, using backlight on the foliage to make the colours pop, or low angles to extend scenes and shapes are just a few ways to experiment with this season.
One of the trickiest things in photography is trying to get the correct light exposure. This is even worse in the winter. Snow acts like a big reflector and trying to photograph a white winter wonderland can quickly become nightmarish.
Using manual mode might give you a little more help than Av (Aperture Priority) or Tv (Shutter Priority). Filters can also give you a little more room in moving closer to that perfect light reading.
The Rule of Thirds
One of the most basic ideas of composition is the rule of thirds. It says that not everything interesting should be centrally located in the photograph.
If you drew imaginary lines one third and two thirds down and along the viewfinder, four intersections would be created. These areas are ideal for making the photograph and the subject more interesting.
Our article goes into more detail about how you can use the rule of thirds to improve your photography.
Balancing an unbalanced scene or vice-versa can add tremendous compositional value to an image. You as a photographer can sort out the chaos or add atmosphere to an otherwise boring image.
Balancing images looks at two parts of the frame – be it top/bottom, left/right or foreground/background and the content of both. Maybe they work together to strengthen an idea, or they work against each other to create something exaggerated.
Triangles have played a big part in the composition of photographs since the early years. We use them everywhere, whether with people or landscape photography.
They could be lines, paths or buildings where the bottom is wider than the top. The important part is that all the lines converge to a point at the top. Our eyes automatically find their way there, as the triangle shape guides our focus and attention.
We see horizons all the time, so much so that they sometimes disappear from our attention. Nonetheless, horizons are part of a photo’s composition and should not be ignored.
There are rules to follow to make that image stand out more, especially when dealing with sea and sky, sky and land or even with sea and land. A simple yet effective idea.
Depth in photography is an interesting concept. You take a 3D setting, you photograph it and it turns into something closer to 2D. It loses its depth in the process.
But there are ways to get it back and turn it into a more realistic image. Simple composition rules can help, such as the rule of thirds, leading lines, frames, etc.
Even your choice of lens (wide angle vs. telephoto) has an effect on the relationship between the objects in your frame.
This post will show you how to create depth in your photos so your vision is what your camera captures.
Leading lines are just that – lines that lead your eyes into the frame, and sometimes out again.
They can take your viewer to what you want them to focus on. They can guide them through the flow of a scene or setting. Or they can vanish into the distant horizon.
As the photographer, you have the choice.
Photography doesn’t end with the click of the shutter. One of the most important parts of being a photographer is what you do after. With traditional film, we had dodging and burning. Now we have countless programs and apps that make post-processing seamless and incredibly useful. Here is how you can help change your landscape from a great shot into an amazing photograph.
You hiked for two hours, you climbed that mountain, and you’re finally setting up your shot. Everything is going swimmingly. Until you take a look at your photos and that dreaded lens flare is taking up more space than the landscape.
You forgot your lens hood – yes, the one you looked at when you took the lens out of the box and then forgot about. What do you do? Go home? Follow our trick here and you’ll never have to deal with that pesky flare again.
Sometimes you find yourself reading about graduated filters online AFTER you have already taken the photograph. You might need to fix the overexposure in the sky from that latest, impromptu beach shoot. Or maybe you want to get rid of atmospheric haze in your latest city landscape.
Presets are the staple of any good Lightroom edit. Some are made by Adobe, others are created by enthusiasts. Here are a few presets to fit into your Adobe Lightroom.
These will help you make the best of your photos!
Have you ever looked closely at your images and found parts of the subject to have a fringe of purple, red, blue, cyan, or green?
These are Chromatic Aberrations and they are not your fault. It is the action of light passing through your lens and leaving part of itself behind.
In this article, you will learn how to deal with these fringes in- camera during post-processing.