If you love landscape photography, you probably know a lot about camera equipment, settings, and the most common composition rules and techniques. But landscape photography is not always about those things. I have six important tips that are often overlooked.
There are many articles about landscape photography available. Most of those talk about equipment and settings that can be used for this kind of photography. Even though most of us know these things by heart, it can be great to read something that confirms the knowledge you already have.
But there are a few things that are often forgotten when landscape photography is mentioned. Or better said, these are not forgotten but rather overlooked. With all the talk about shooting in raw or jpeg, the use of manual or aperture priority, and the use of exposure bracketing or not, there are a few things that we should do more often.
In this article I want to give six important tips about landscape photography, that may not improve your use of camera or settings, but will result in more satisfaction from your landscape photography in general.
1. Sit Down and Take a Moment for Yourself
We live in a fast world where a moment of quiet peace is hard to find. We don’t live in the moment and are often thinking about the things that still have to be done. I think landscape photography is a great way to escape that fast world. At least for me.
When you arrive at a great location, forget about the things that you need to do. Just sit down and enjoy the peace of that place. Take your time and look around. Don’t start photographing at once but place the camera on your tripod and look at the beauty of the landscape you’re going to photograph in a minute.
The benefit of this moment for yourself becomes clear when you start seeing the details of the landscape. If you don’t relax and take the time to look, you will miss it. Perhaps you will get inspired.
2. Go Out Scouting
Are you a photographer that loves to plan ahead? Or do you love to go out and get surprised by the things you encounter en route? If you are the second type of photographer, the previous tip of this article will be perfect for you.
If you are someone who wants to plan a certain photo, you will need to go out scouting. Learn about the area you want to photograph. Not by looking at a website or Google Maps. No, you need to go out there and see things for yourself.
It isn’t always necessary to travel far away. Often the most surprising landscapes can be found relatively close by. Go scouting by daylight, and find the best possible places and angles. Often an app like Photopills can help you to plan the best spot for a nice sunset or sunrise.
Take a simple photo with your smartphone. Enable GPS logging and make a note of what kind of situation will work best for that location. Compile a list of locations, together with coordinates and an example photo. If the right situation occurs, you know exactly where to go.
3. Don’t Be Afraid of Daytime Photography
There is the golden hour and the blue hour. Sunrise, sunset, or twilight are amazing moments for shooting landscapes. We are so focused on these moments, that we forget about other great opportunities.
It is also possible to shoot amazing landscape photos during daylight. Perhaps not with a clear blue sky, but a nice cloudy sky can do wonders. Search for beautiful locations, just as explained in the second tip in this article.
Since most photographers only go out shooting during the golden and blue hours, you will create something unique. Use shadows in the harsh sunlight, and find the places where the sunlight is at its best. I know for a fact these landscapes photos can turn out amazing.
4. Be on Time
Don’t you like the daylight as mentioned in the third tip? In that case, a sunrise or sunset is the moment for you. But if you plan to shoot during these moments, make sure you’re on time. You want to be at the location when the light becomes amazing, not after that moment.
I always advise being at the location an hour early. For that, you need to know where you want to photograph. Take a note of tip number two, and go out scouting for the best locations for that particular moment.
Being in time will allow you to capture the best light when it happens. High clouds will light up half an hour before sunrise or after sunrise. Low clouds before sunset or after sunrise. Are you on the hunt for a rainbow? Go to the location when it’s still raining. You want to be there when the sun breaks through the clouds.
5. Don’t Get Frustrated if It Isn’t What You Expected
If you’re in time at the location, as explained in the previous tip, don’t get frustrated when the moment isn’t what you’re hoping for. Even though many things can be predicted, the weather is still rather unpredictable. You never know if the sky will get a nice color, or not.
Photography isn’t an obligation. You don’t have to take pictures when you’re on location. If the weather isn’t great, or the light is what you’re hoping for, go back another time. Nobody is forcing you to take pictures. It’s okay to return home without an image on your memory card.
Still, if you want to shoot anyway, try things out. Experiment with settings, compositions, and find new ways of capturing the landscape you’re in. This might come in handy next time, when the light is amazing. Just remember the first tip, it’s important to enjoy your time at the location. Don’t get frustrated.
6. Chimping Is Okay, but Don’t Delete Images Too Soon
For those who don’t know, chimping is going through your images on the back of the camera. It’s something we all do, one way or another. That’s okay because when you’re excited about the moment and the images you took, you’re eager to see how you captured it.
But don’t be that photographer who’s deleting images at the location. There is absolutely no reason to do this. How can you determine if an image isn’t good on a small three-inch LCD screen? Or do you need the extra space on your memory card. Are you afraid to come home with an image that is not good enough?
When you’re on location, enjoy the time you’re there. Enjoy the images you took by looking at these on the small LCD screen, but don’t start selecting. There will be time enough once you get home. Just enjoy the scenery, the moment, the amazing light. Remember the first tip.
Do you have another tip for the landscape photographer that’s not on this list? Feel free to share it in the comments below. I would love to see any addition to my six important things about landscape photography that are often overlooked.