I wish I could say it’s as easy as pointing your camera at a beautiful landscape and squeezing off a shot or two. The great photographs you see of landscapes don’t just mirror the beauty that is already there but they share the perspective of the photographer who took the picture. The time of day you take the photo, the angle you take it from, what you include in the scene all dramatically change the photo dramatically. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from photographers much smarter than myself.
Take Your Time
When you get to your beautiful landscape it’s not a race to capture the shot before it disappears, sometimes you need to wait minutes or even hours for the sun to hit just right. The reflections off water can really set off a landscape picture so you may have to wait for the sun to move before your shot is complete. This sounds like common sense right? Don’t be afraid to get off the path a little, frankly when I see the outlook point over some beautiful canyon all trampled down I know I don’t want to take the shot from there because it’s been done so many times. I try to look for a more creative angle.
Use A Tripod
If you have a camera that is worth its weight you probably have a lens on it that can zoom in a pretty good distance. The further you zoom in the more susceptible to camera shake your photos will be (makes them blurry). Your also likely to be shooting during sunset or sunrise and will need to slow your shutter speed to let more light in which also will detect more camera shake and blur your photos if not on a tripod.
Gear Does Not Matter
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have seen photo’s taken with someone’s cell phone that have rivaled even the most sophisticated camera’s photos. It’s all about composition. Don’t worry if you don’t have a thousand dollar camera just look for great photo opportunities and be creative.
Just kidding, refer to above.
Don’t Over Process
So you took the photo and now your back home in front of your computer about to photo shop the hell out of it. Stop! For the love of God please stop. Let the photo speak for its self. If you have to doctor it up then perhaps your photo stunk? That’s alright, head back and keep heading back until you have the picture you want, the one you see in your mind’s eye when you look at the scene. The more you learn your camera the less time you’ll have to spend in post processing which translates into more time going out and using said camera.
Get Up Early
So the two ideal times for photographing landscapes according to most everyone is first and last hour of sun each day (called the golden hour). Personal preference is the first hour because I have looked at a billion sunset pictures and the morning tends to be more dramatic with fogs, wildlife, etc..
Don’t get swept up in the “money shot.” Turn around and look behind you once in a while, you may surprise yourself.
Don’t Follow Anyone’s Rules, Not Even Your Own
Photography is an art. Get creative. Rules are meant to be broken in photography, that is what makes it so interesting. If everyone did the same exact thing for every photograph we would be stuck with a lot of the same. No one wants to look through that photo album.