In this article, I’m going to share 10 of the most important things a landscape photographer should keep in mind when preparing and shooting. We tend to forget the most common things and end up getting messed up during shoots, so I’ll be sharing some pre-shot tips and on-the-spot ideas to help you get better with your landscape shots.
1. Do proper research and arrive early
This is very important and it is something that most photographers forget or avoid doing. To get the best compositions in the field, you have to have an idea before you get there. The best way to do this is to use Google Maps, Google Earth for location, and Instagram, 500px, and other photography-based social media for inspiration from other photographers.
In the example above, the first photo is a screenshot from Google Earth and the second is the one I took in Pelling, West Sikkim, India.
2. Choose your cameras and lenses wisely
For landscape photography, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to cameras and lenses. For cameras, you need to consider the dynamic range of your camera. You can compare the dynamic range on various websites like DXOMark before purchasing a camera. I am currently using a Nikon D750 which gives me very good results. For lenses, consider focal length and aperture for landscape photography.
I personally recommend carrying 3 lenses – an ultra-wide, a normal zoom, and a telephoto lens – to cover all aspects of the landscapes (not including astrophotography here).
3. make sure you have a reliable tripod
Tripods are of the utmost importance in landscape photography. You can’t afford to take shaky photos, right? Wind conditions will almost never suit you in rural areas. However, tripods are also needed for long exposures and bracketing. So make sure you have a sturdy, light and reliable tripod that you can carry around when shooting. I have a Manfrotto Manfrotto Befree Advanced travel tripod and it is incredibly sturdy. It gave me non-blurry images in strong wind conditions.
4. Make the most of the lighting conditions
You will have to deal with different lighting conditions when shooting. Even if you check the weather forecast in advance, it will fail you a good deal of the time, especially in the mountains. However, you should be able to make the most of these situations, and if the weather gets dark and cloudy, get some moody nature footage. If the weather is superbly sunny, you can rest assured that you will get beautiful photos in the blue hour and the golden hour. Also find various subjects that you can photograph depending on the weather conditions.
5. Pay attention to your surroundings
When you capture an image, you can also look around you. You never know when your background becomes more fascinating than the image you are currently photographing. Stay alert and continue to watch your surroundings and check the frames. Never stop checking frames, regardless of the factors.
6. Create a sense of scale
Create perspective differences and a sense of scale when photographing massive landscapes. Put a human subject or something relatively smaller than your main subject to create this scale. You won’t believe how much the perspective towards the image changes once the viewer can compare the sizes of the objects in the frame. Also, sometimes you will get great minimalist frames by applying this technique.
7. Use ND / CPL filters for creative photos
Filters are a real game-changer. Once I started using filters, I almost never stopped using them for my waterscapes. I’m a little obsessed with these gentle effects of flowing water. Whether it’s waterfalls or mountain rivers or waves crashing into the shore, you’ll always be mesmerized by the frames you get. Since your eyes cannot see at a shutter speed of 10 seconds, the captured images will be exclusive to each frame.
ND (Neutral Density) filters reduce the amount of light entering your camera and CPL (Circular Polarizers) reduce reflection from a shiny surface. I am currently using filters from Kenko, they are cheap, easy to use and still gave me quite satisfactory results.
8. Obtain proper focus and sharpness on location.
You cannot adjust the focus during post processing. Create the final image in your mind when shooting, so that you already have a workflow created in the back of your head when editing the photo. Concentration is something that you need to nail to the location. If you miss it, shoot again. If there are moving subjects like clouds or waves and you missed the focus on a photo, sorry to say you will never get that image back. however, you will almost surely get better frames the next time around. Don’t lose hope and don’t lose focus.
9. Accept failure and analyze your mistakes
Never expect your first shots to be the best. You will fail and trust me you will fail most of the time. Landscape photography is like a soccer game, you will score very few times but you have to keep trying. Also, don’t give up after scoring one goal, try to score another (take another good shot).
Most of your photos won’t measure up, but you need to make sure you get something out of those bad photos. Either you messed up your composition or your light, or you missed the focus or something, take another shot after changing what you feel is necessary and see if it goes better. Most importantly, embrace your failures and, like the old saying goes, make them your pillars of success!
10. Every now and then, leave your camera behind and enjoy the scene.
There will be times when the environment is so beautiful that you would miss a chance to enjoy it if you keep snapping. Put down your camera, step into the moment and feel nature. At the top of a peak or in the ocean, at the bottom of a valley, or in the middle of the cold waters of the river, create memories without your camera, create stories to tell and, above all, live the moment present. Also, when traveling, if you have good friends like me, you might get some decent photos of yourself.
That’s it for this article. Hope I could help you somehow with your landscape photography. Good shot!
About the Author: Subham Shome is a landscape and travel photographer based in Agarpara Kolkata, West Bengal, India. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Shome’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.