Becoming a great landscape photographer doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of experience out in the field operating your equipment, learning how to post-process, and time to develop your own unique style. Whether you’ve just invested in a DSLR or have been taking pictures for a couple of years, here are 7 easy tips that will help take your landscape photography to the next level.
Invest in a quality tripod and ball head.
As a landscape photographer, it’s important to get sharp images that bring out the detail of the scenes you’re shooting. Investing in a nice tripod and ball head will help stabilize your camera and allow you create higher-quality images. Finding the right tripod and ball head is just as important as finding the perfect camera for your landscape photography.
A carbon fiber tripod can be expensive but worth it if you do a lot of hiking to photography locations with your equipment. A good ball head can give you more adjustment options and will have the ability to hold a lot more weight than cheaper versions. These are pieces of equipment that can potentially last for years, and the more you use them, the more proficient you’ll become in setting up for good landscape photos.
If you’re just starting out, it may be difficult to spend more money after buying an expensive DSLR and a couple of lenses. But making the choice to take care of of your equipment the right way by putting it on a quality tripod and ball head is a decision you won’t regret.
Use the self-timer.
Using the self-timer feature on your DSLR will prevent any shake caused by pushing the shutter button on your camera. A technique used by many landscape photographers is to set the self-timer for a couple of seconds so they can still shoot multiple shots at a pretty decent rate. You can even use a remote control if you really don’t want to touch your setup. Using the timer is especially important when the shutter needs to stay open longer during long exposure shots.
Add a human element to your photos.
Adding people to your landscape photos can immediately make your compositions more interesting. That’s because they create a sense of scale, so viewers can see and understand how grand the landscape really is.
If you don’t have any friends or family who are willing to come along on your landscape shoots, try joining a group of outdoor enthusiasts and tagging along on their adventures. With some luck, you’ll find some people who are happy to climb rock faces and hike up mountain ridges to pose in your photos.
Go where there are fewer people
The more difficult a location is to reach, the less competition you’ll have when looking for the right composition. There are a lot of iconic locations for landscape photography that are easily accessible by car or a short hike. While there’s nothing wrong with checking off those beautiful spots on your photography bucket list, you may have to deal with a lineup of photographers during peak times and struggle to snag the perfect spot for lighting and composition.
If a beautiful location in the mountains takes a few days of backpacking to reach, you’ll probably have the place to yourself when taking pictures. On the downside, you can’t just jump in your car and head to the spot when conditions are right. You may have to wait a long time for the right conditions to appear after you’ve arrive. However, with careful planning, patience, and persistence, you could eventually create an image of a lifetime in a place few photographers have visited.
Learn as much as you can
Being a good photographer means always looking for ways to improve your craft. You can attend workshops led by your favorite photographers, take photography classes at your local university, read books and blogs, join a photography club, and most importantly, take a lot of photos.
Since workshops and classes can be expensive, professional photographers have started to create ebooks, too, like the ones at Photography Concentrate, which are affordable and full of helpful information about becoming a better photographer.
When it comes to post-processing your landscape photos, you can start working on your techniques with Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets (like these from Contrastly) which also are cheaper than attending a workshop. Develop a style that works for you and then consistently stick with it. A lot of popular landscape photographers have a distinct style that makes them stand out from the rest.
Shoot more during the middle of the day
You’ll probably find more landscape photographers shooting during the early morning and evening hours when, understandably, the light is the best. But if you can learn to shoot great landscape photography during the parts of the day when lighting conditions aren’t perfect, you’ll be more flexible and become better at taking photos overall.
Work harder and be more creative
Worry less about your gear and more about how to maximize your current equipment’s features. Always be thinking about your next composition, and shoot it over and over. Find unique perspectives and techniques for common landscape locations. Get up earlier and stay out later. Hike farther than you did before.
Through it all, remember that your photography is defined by your goals and the amount of work you put into it.
Jimmy Chin sums it all up in this quote:
“Creativity needs to extend beyond the lens. Find creative ways to showcase your work and get it seen. Straight-up tenacity, hard work, and determination will always be part of the equation, so get to it.”