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 are shooting. Investing in a nice tripod and ball head will help stabilize your camera and allow you make those 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 potentially pieces of equipment that will last for years to come 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
People in your landscape photos can make the compositions more interesting. Adding that human element to the image can give viewers a stronger perspective of how grand the landscape environment really is. It may require convincing one of your friends to climb that perfect rock face or hike up to a ridge with a large mountain in the background while you capture the perfect shot.
Go where there are fewer people
The more difficult it is to reach a location, 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 on a well traveled trail. And there is nothing wrong with checking those beautiful spots off on your photography bucket list. But it can be a hassle dealing with the lineup of photographers during peak times when trying to find that perfect spot to catch the light just right.
If a beautiful location in the mountains takes a few days of backpacking to get to, you probably will have the place to yourself when taking pictures. Doing something like this could also mean having to wait for a long time for the right conditions to exist and there might be a chance you go home with nothing for a lot of hard work. With careful planning, patience, and persistence, you could eventually make an image of a lifetime in a place that few photographers have visited.
Learn as much as you can
Being a good photographer means always looking to improve. You can attend the workshops of your favorite photographers, go take photography classes at your local university, read books and blogs, join a photography club, and most importantly, take a lot of photos.
Workshops and classes can be expensive and over the past few years professional photographers have started creating ebooks, like the ones over 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 the lighting conditions aren’t perfect, then you’ll more than likely become a better photographer.
Work harder and be more creative
Worry less with what your shooting with and more on how to maximize your current equipment’s features. Always be thinking about your next composition and shoot it a thousand times. Find unique perspectives to take pictures from for those common landscape locations. Get up earlier and stay out later. Hike farther with a heavier pack.
The endless tips and advice will always be given whether you like it or not, but the reality is your photography is defined by only you and the amount of work you put into it.
Jimmy Chin sums it up pretty perfectly with 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.”