Ever see some amazing landscape photos and wonder how the photographer captured it? Did you ever think what were their secrets? I may not know every secret every photographer has to achieve amazing photos but I do have 5 tips for better landscape photos that will help you out right away. These 5 tips are very straight forward and they should help you with your landscape photography.
Do Your Homework
How many times have you showed up to a location and realized you went at the wrong time of the day or the light wasn’t the best? We’ve all done it at some point, but if you put in the time and effort to research the location you’ll always show up at the wrong time. If you can visit the location prior to photographing it you can see what time the best light occurs and you can find which composition works the best. You can also do research online and read what other photographers might have to say etc. The more knowledge you have of a particular location, the better the chances you have of nailing the stunning photograph you’ve been dreaming about. Like G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.”
Use Your Feet
Raise your hand if the first thing you see is what you photograph. 9 times out of 10 if you walk down river a bit more or walk further down a hill or what not you’ll find an even more interesting subject to photograph. Explore a bit more and don’t just settle for the first shot you see as you get out of your car.
Always Use a Tripod
Ever try to get that silky water shot but all you end up with blur because you tried to handhold your camera with a slow shutter speed? This is where a tripod comes into play. You no longer have to worry about trying to stay still with a slow shutter speed while you photograph a waterfall etc. because the tripod will stabilize your camera even with the slowest of shutter speeds. All you have to worry about is how many keepers you have to organize when you get home. I can’t stress the importance of a good tripod and ball head in your landscape photography.
Filters, Filters and more Filters
At some point or another we’ve all been frustrated trying to nail the exposure on a sunset or sunrise. You know when the sky is brighter than the ground and you either blow out the sky or under expose the ground. What about glares on the water or maybe it was too bright outside to obtain the right shutter speed to get that silky water effect? This is where filters will help you out tremendously. I use 3 types of filter to combat the issues I previously mentioned, a neutral density filter, a graduated neutral density filter and a polarizing filter.
Neutral Density Filter
If it’s too bright outside and I want to use slow shutter speeds I throw on a neutral density filter. The neutral density filter reduces the amount of light entering the camera. There are different degrees of neutral density filters and each one blocks out a certain amount of light. I personally love my 10 stop neutral density filter. It’s is tricky to use, but once you master it the 10 stop neutral density filter is an amazing accessory to have.
Graduated Neutral Density Filter
Lets say for instance one part of the photo is brighter than the rest, like a bright sky with a dark foreground for instance. A graduated neutral density filter will help balance out the bright skies with the dark foreground. The graduated neutral density filter gradually goes from dark to clear, so you can reduce the light in the sky while maintaining the foreground to give you a better balanced photo.
I use a polarizing filter to reduce the glare in water or if I want to saturate the sky a bit more. Ever take a photo of mountains in the distance and they look hazy? Throw on a polarizing filter and watch the haze disappear. A polarizing filter is also great if you’re taking a photo of foliage and the foliage appears shiny. This filter will eliminate the shine and give you a rich photograph.
Sometimes getting that amazing photo takes time. Waiting for the perfect moment and nailing the shot is a lot better than being impatient and leaving and missing out on an amazing sunset. I use to love driving up to the White Mountains in New Hampshire at 3 in the morning and just waiting on the top of a mountain for the sun to rise over the horizon. I know we live in a hurry up, rush all the time type of world, but your landscape photography doesn’t have to suffer. Take your time and wait for the perfect shot and if it doesn’t happen you can always try again. We don’t always land the best photo the first time out, but if you keep coming back you’re bound to get what you’re looking for.