Valuable Beginner Landscape Photography Tips and How to Avoid the Potholes
You've just got that lens, you know the ultra-wide one that stretches wider than anything ever before to mount your lucky camera body. It feels good, it looks good, in fact, is truly is good. All you want to do is give that special piece of glass a workout.
Landscape photography, as we know, is more than screwing your camera body onto your tripod, attaching your fresh wide lens and just shooting away – to the uneducated, (photography-wise folks, we're not insulting anyone here), it appears to be the easiest. It's definitely not.
Why do you think there are serious landscape photographers spend a few weeks in the freezing wet drizzle and fog of outer-nowhere in rural Iceland? It ‘ain't always fun, but it is a highly rewarding experience you'll NEVER forget.
You won't forget an experience like this in a hurry because that is what it often takes to come away with a few (yes, only a handful) of shots you can be uber-proud of and say “that, was worth it.”
Without the dedication, skills, preparation, knowledge and gear you may as well call it a damp and cold vacation.
With all this said, let's get on with some fantastic (and very applicable) Beginner Landscape Photography Tips.
The Gear – Your Bodies and Lenses
So first off, we're going to refer to the camera gear you're carrying. Whether you're a DSLR shooter or Mirrorless shooter, it doesn't matter, what matters is you've got the gear you need (now that you've made the effort to get yourself there).
Let's keep this simple. If you're a novice and have invested in the big time, you've gone and got yourself a Full Frame beast and will need that trusty 24-70mm or 16-35mm lens. However, if you're not playing the zoom game, you might have considered a nice prime like a 24mm for those super sharp shots.
On the other hand for those using APS-C or Crop Sensor cameras (most beginners will be in this category), you'll be looking at something like a 10-20mm or a 12-24mm lens.
The final thing to consider is whether or not you're mostly shooting in lower light conditions or not – this depends on whether to go for a fixed f/2.8 lens or something with a variable aperture limit e.g. f/3.5 – f/5.6.
Alternatively, I cannot rule out the fact you may not even want to shoot your landscape with a wide lens, but a telephoto instead –
If that's the case, check out this article by resident Lightstalking Photographer, Jason D. Little.
Be A Dare Devil With Your Landscapes
Like bungy jumping? Not exactly, no. I'm referring to being more active on your landscape shoot.
This entails walking, climbing and avoiding the “known” points to shoot the same image as the other eighteen photographers standing with their tripods huddled together. This doesn't mean ignore that spot – it's good for a reason, just don't leap straight there, explore.
Often this means climbing higher (or lower) that you might've thought you ought to. Visit unique locations where you can challenge your composition and exposure skills (more on that to come).
Auto Landscape mode – Sorry, It's a No No
It seems like this is the place to begin, for beginners but actually, you'd be wrong.
The best place to start is by understanding and utilizing the exposure triangle and therefore controlling your camera more manually (this does not mean, click your dial around to manual mode).
What this does mean is to understand that you can control the exposure yourself, even from Aperture Priority mode and making small adjustments in camera. Pay attention to point #3 in this article on preset options.
From properly understanding the concept of exposure, you can really progress quickly with your photography.
Look for the Best View You Can Find
This means, as we've discussed, avoiding the overly populated areas and finding your own vantage points. Look out for areas of equally outstanding beauty – find what YOU find beautiful, not what people expect you should find beautiful.
I've always found the magic happens when you're not searching too hard. You stumble across the perfect spot because you went exploring and with the search in your subconscious.
As a beginner, you should be looking out for elements in your frame which consist of a foreground, middle and background. With these three elements present in your composition, you're in a great place to start the transition for finding your spot to tweaking your angle and framing the final image.
This takes some patience but it's worth it. Don't forget the classic rule of thirds here – especially when you're starting out, you simply just cannot avoid it until you've got yourself some confidence. Then, blow it out the water, my friend.
Challenge Your Own Composition Limits
As we touched on, get low, get high (not that kind of high) and remember your feet will take you where you want to go. Sounds simple, but stop and look around – would this waterfall below look anywhere near as interesting taken straight on? Maybe, maybe not – it depends.
My point here, try different angles to compose your photos, see what works and what doesn't – it's your call and what you feel comfortable with. My advice here is simple, try everything until you feel like you've nailed it. And that's all you can do.
Patience is a Virtue
Yes, it is. Good things come to those who wait (to quote the old famous Guinness advert, for those stout drinkers (or Violet Fane)) because this is a primary asset for landscape photographers.
It's not all about waiting, but my point here is to wait for changing (preferable) light, cloud movements, the position of the sun etc, can result is more dynamic photos which can make an okay image look really quite memorable!
Beginner Landscape Photography Tips – The Potholes to Avoid
- You forget to include the foreground elements,
- Unnecessarily rushing your shot,
- Don't forget to shoot Portrait,
- If you have another lens or can zoom in, then do it,
- Straighten that crooked horizon
There are your beginner landscape photography tips. Landscapes are amazing to shoot, especially when incorporated with travel – they allow you to explore and ingest some stunning scenery and it's these moments we have to breathe and soak up the natural environment.
Comment below for some extras you've found particularly useful, especially if you've picked them up from a pro and found them to be both valuable and useable.
More Landscape Photography Tips
For more advanced ideas, take a look at our main landscape photography tips article.
- Something Different: Using a Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photography
- Get To Know Your Camera’s Buttons & Dials With Ease
- 8 Common Landscape Photography Mistakes Beginners Make
- 10 Photographers You Need To Watch If You Love Simple Landscapes
Just when you thought your day couldn't get any better, we go and throw in the opportunity to get this incredible Landscape Photography Guide by the pros at Photzy.
See what author and professional photographer Kent DuFault can share with you to take your landscape shots beyond the confines of your mind!