There are many tips you can use to improve your landscape photography. Here are five simple ones you can start incorporating right now.
In my latest video, I share five simple tips for improving your landscape photography. Some tips and techniques can be used in some circumstances, while others apply to others. These tips are rather broad, but some, I use all the time.
Previsualization is a fantastic skill to learn for landscape photography. You can often pass by some rather “boring” scenes during less than optimal conditions, but try to imagine how these scenes would look in other weather, lighting, and seasonal conditions? In the video above, I show a simple little scene with a boat. I scout the scene during the harsh daylight with enough wind to create ripples on the surface of the water — generally not the most interesting conditions. However, by analyzing the scene, I figure out where the sun rises, where it sets, and whether it is worth visiting at another time of the day or later in the season. Spoiler, I went back the following morning and got some fantastic photos.
Photograph What You Want
Another tip I want to share is to photograph what you want (within the law and morals). If you want to photograph the icons, do that. If you want to photograph still and intimate nature scenes, do that. If you want to hike for days to remote vistas and shoot those, do that. It is when you put your heart and soul into your photography that good photos emerge, and it is where you learn the most. Do not be ashamed of your wants, and do not listen to the noise of the internet. The below photo is one of the most visited and photographed locations in Iceland; nevertheless, it is one of my favorite 2020 photos.
Keep It Simple
When it comes to composition, one of my top tips is to exclude unwanted distractions from your scene. You can do so in a few different ways. Change your perspective, move closer, zoom in, or use Photoshop. Keep the photo simple as to not confuse the viewer. In the video, I use the same examples as the boat in tip one. Some poles are located in the water next to the boat, and by slightly adjusting my position and focal length, I can exclude them from the scene.
Some photographers insist on post-processing being cheating. It is not. A raw file was never intended to be the final photo, and you can do with your photography, as you like. Whether your vision is close to what you saw with your own eyes or it is something more impressionistic, you will still need to do some kind of editing. Sometimes, you just need to make small adjustments, while with other photos, you can sit for hours and tweak your edits. In the below photo, I combined two photos taken a few seconds apart and added a lot of contrast to give the photo depth and dimension. Would anyone argue the edited photo is not the more aesthetic one? Check out the video for more before/after examples.
Know Your Camera
Last but certainly not least, it is important to know your camera — enough to capture what you want to. How do you turn it into bulb mode, how do you switch on auto exposure bracketing (AEB), can you operate the camera in the dark? Sometimes, you need to work fast to get the photo, as the weather conditions are changing rapidly. Other times, you have other things to think about, such as keeping the camera dry while photographing waterfalls, and then, it is frustrating not being able to change aperture or shutter speed. The below photo is a great example of knowing where your buttons are, as you will miss the fleeting moment of the aurora.
I share a final bonus tip in the video, so be sure to check it out. Let me hear in the comments if you have other tips you want to share.