Landscape photography is a favorite at Light Stalking and a subject that the wider photographic community loves. Getting into the great outdoors to shoot and coming home to some wonderful shots can certainly lead to a huge amount of artistic satisfaction. But how exactly can you get those landscape photos that really pop? To be honest, there are a handful of things that you can start doing that will have a dramatic impact on your landscape photography.
1. Shoot in the Golden Hour or the Blue Hour – The quality of light in your outdoor shots is perhaps the largest single influencer of how your photographs will turn out. The soft afternoon or morning light that happens around sunrise or sunset is simply the best time to be out shooting landscapes. It's not always possible to get out at these times, but you will almost never be disappointed if you can.
2. Use a Tripod – When you shoot in the Golden hour or Blue Hour, you are almost certainly going to need a tripod to keep your camera steady and your resulting shot sharp.
3. Make Sure Your Horizon is Straight – This one drives a lot of people quite mad! It's an easy and remarkably common mistake in landscape photography, but making sure your horizon is straight is imperative.
4. Get Yourself an ND Grad Filter – These are the secret of many landscape photographers. With a bright sky and a darker ground, it is often very difficult to get your exposure correct. A Neutral Density Graduated Filter will help a lot with that by darkening the sky.
5. Shoot to the Right – Typically in landscape photography it is desirable to err towards slight overexposure rather than underexposure. This makes your post production a lot easier as it allows you to bring down the exposure of the sky (rather than bring up the exposure of the ground). The reason that is generally better is that increasing the exposure of shadows in post production can often lead to unwanted noise in your photo. Bringing down overexposure doesn't introduce as much noise.
6. Shoot at Low ISO – The beauty of landscapes is that you can usually plan your shot. Usually you want a minimum of noise in your shot, so shooting at an ISO between 50 and 400 will ensure that happens for most digital cameras. Higher ISO settings can start to introduce noise.
7. Shoot With a Narrow Aperture – Usually you are going to want as deep a depth of field as possible so as to get everything in focus. A narrow aperture is a must for this so usually f16 through to f22 will be the order of the day for a landscape photographer.
8. Get a Great Foreground – A massive part of most good landscape photographs is the element of foreground interest. Some interesting bushes, rocks or objects can often lead the eye into the beautiful scene so remember to try to position yourself accordingly.
9. Experiment With All of These Tips – All rules are made to be broken. Experiment with these tips for yourself and find your own style. That is how original works of art are born.