13 Tips to Perfect Your Landscape Photography

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer—and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams

In my opinion, landscape photography is the pursuit of being in the right place at the right time. One of the keys to success for landscape photography is patience.

landscape with rainbow

“Painted Rainbow” captured by PictureSocial member Robert Davis

Having said that, there are some small details which are often forgotten. Let me discuss those small details; you can read them while sipping your coffee:

1. Choose Sky vs. Land

Pick one. Which one is more preferable for you? The sky or the land? Well, I would just pick both. Why not? Keep in mind that both the land and sky are supporting each other to generate a highly desirable photo.

rural landscape photography

“Growing Crop” captured by PictureSocial member Dave Murray

Don’t be greedy, though. Prioritize the stronger one. For instance, during the golden sunset time, the sky will be more tempting than the land. Yet you have to keep in mind the classic photography textbook guideline, the rule of thirds.

As a rule of thumb, the part you want to emphasize should be put two thirds of the way into the frame. But don’t solely rely on the rule. Art is all about your personal preference. What I would suggest is to become familiar with the rule of thirds, and then break it.

2. Find a Focal Point

Focal point is not necessarily the point of interest (POI), but POI could be the focal point. On top of that, focal point can be the initial point to explore the POI.

landscape with lighthouse

“Lighthouse at Perch Rock, New Brighton” captured by PictureSocial member Michael Porter

Focal point is where you want the eyes of the viewers to fall when they first see the landscape photograph. Focal point can be any object in the frame.

3. Don’t Underestimate the Foreground

While many photographers focus on finding the best background for their landscape photography, foreground is also very important. Foreground, when placed correctly, gives viewers a sensation of depth. Foreground can also be used as a focal point in many cases. You can use any object as your foreground, such as rocks, trees, or even a person.

beach landscape

“Moss Pillow” captured by PictureSocial member Michael Huy

4. Make Friends with Your Tripod

This particular photography equipment presents a dilemma. It is too heavy to be carried, yet its function is too vital to be left behind. The main function of a tripod is to prevent the camera from shaking.

When I’m going to hunt landscape photography, bringing my tripod along with me is a must. For me, it’s better to carry a heavy load than to regret the result of not bringing the tripod.

5. Use Depth of Field to the Maximum

Landscape photography is usually sharp from one end to the other. Use a small aperture, between f/8 and f/22, to maintain the sharpness of the landscape image.

sharp landscape photography

“Loch Lubnaig” captured by PictureSocial member Dave Murray

6. Capture Nature’s Movement

Many people consider landscape photography as capturing an image of peaceful, relaxing, and motionless nature. In fact, we can add some “drama” to our landscape photography. Capture the movements in nature, such as water flow, cloud movement, and swinging leaves.

landscape with waterfall

“Waterfall near Connor Pass” captured by PictureSocial member Pat Dennehy

Capturing these kind of movements definitely requires a tripod and neutral density (ND) filter. When we capture the image successfully, it could seem like it is from another world with a very strong mood.

People may argue, “That doesn’t look real, does it?”

Well, I didn’t take photos simply for documentation, did I?

7. Cooperate With the Weather

Weather is unpredictable. It is either good weather and take photos, or bad weather and do it another time. What if I told you bad weather is good for your landscape photography?

Too many photographers take photos only on the good days. On the other hand, if you capture the moment of a thunderstorm, blizzard, or other bad weather conditions, your photos will be unique and more dramatic.

landscape during thunderstorm

“Hallett Cove Lightning” captured by PictureSocial member Justin

Keep in mind that everybody can make use of good clear blue skies, but few photographers work in bad weather. Go against the mainstream and create something different.

8. Wait for the Golden Hour & Blue Hour

Golden hour refers to the time during sunset. You will see the golden color of the sky when the sun sets. But after the sun sets, don’t pack up and get ready to leave. Instead, wait for a moment until the sun completely sets, and you will witness another great time for landscape photography. This is called the blue hour.

landscape during golden hour

“Golden Hour” captured by PictureSocial member Katelyn “Kate” Wall

Blue hour is the time after the sun is gone and before it is completely dark. You will see a dark blue sky. Turn your camera on and capture the moment. Quick!

9. Lines and Shapes

Play with composition. Lines and shapes give a very strong impression to an image. Also, remember the perspective and vanishing point. Both give a great sense of depth, which is very interesting to a viewer’s eyes.

landscape photography

“Napa Valley Sunrise” captured by PictureSocial member Clifford Briggin

10. Change Perspective

I cannot overemphasize that you should explore as much as you can. Get the infinite creativity in landscape photography. Change your point of view when taking photos. Even switching from a high angle to a low angle gives you a totally different effect and mood.

landscape perspective

“Rainbow of Color” captured by PictureSocial member Mitch Johanson

11. Look for Details of the Landscape

Landscape photography is not solely wide angle. Experiment with different types of lenses. If you only have a normal lens, then panoramic photos can be an alternative.

12. Use HDR Techniques

High Dynamic Range for landscape photography can be a great alternative when a camera filter is not available. Take several images of the same scene with different exposures, then combine them. Combining the images can be done using image editing software such as Photoshop. Don’t overprocess your image. Make it look natural, not like a 3D cartoon.

13. Keep Shooting!

After reading all the tips, it is time to take action. Remember, knowing is nothing; applying what you know is everything. The very best thing you can do to improve your landscape photography skills is to practice.

Get your camera, go out to take photos, and have fun!

About the Author:
Gde Putra is a hobby photographer who hopes to grow the love of nature among all people through his images.

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