The Basics of Scenic Photography

Many people choose to take their digital photography to scenery for very good reasons. This type of photography offers numerous and diverse opportunities to capture a wide variety of elements, colors, and views. For that reason, if you choose to go the route of scenic photography, you will certainly want to make sure you have some direction.

It is a big world out there with plenty of opportunity. Here are the basics of scenic photography along with some pointers on the type of equipment you will need to make the most of your digital photography adventure.

An Overview of Scenic Photography

Perhaps the reason that scenic photography is so popular is the fact that it has been around so long. Many years ago, photography took long amounts of time in order to expose the film. For that reason, scenery like gardens, mountains, and trees were perfect subjects. They did not move that much, so the camera could be set up and exposed and the image could still come out well. That was a long time before digital photography ever came about, and now, the ability to capture nature’s beauty is even more honed and perfected. Perhaps scenic photography is so popular simply because it offers so many different opportunities with colors, depth and scale that cannot be recreated.

Grandfather Mountain Sunset Blue Ridge Parkway Western NC
Grandfather Mountain Sunset Blue Ridge Parkway Western NC
Dave Allen Photography

For whatever reason, scenic photography is very popular and very beloved. Some of the most well known photographers have made a name for themselves in this field. Just look at the work of Ansel Adams. While he did photograph people from time to time, his main subjects were scenic ones. Now, his pictures hang in thousands of homes and businesses. His books grace many a coffee table. We cannot all become someone like Ansel Adams, but we certainly can aspire to be like him with our own digital photography!

Scenic photography can take place anywhere. Many amazing images have been taken in someone’s backyard or at a neighbor’s farm. That means you should always be on the lookout for a chance to take images. Of course, there are certain situations that lend themselves more to the scenic option. Some favored places include mountain ranges, beaches, rivers, lakes, prairies and forests. Always be on the lookout for your moment to take this type of digital photography and you will never know when the right opportunity may arise.

The Needed Tools

Many people have a misconception about scenic photography. They think that they will need the full extent of their camera and digital photography equipment to capture scenery. This is simply not the case. The layouts, the color and the depth are all already there. You only need to have an eye for composition and you only need a few pieces of equipment. To get you started on your scenic photography journey, here is a breakdown on what you do need to have in your camera bag.

Camera Gear
Scott Prokop /

First of all, when it comes to choosing a bag, it is a good option to choose a backpack when you will be taking scenic photography, especially if you will be out in the natural world. A backpack will allow you to travel easily and you will not have to try to keep up with a camera bag that will be easy to set down and lose.

When it comes to your camera, there are a few things that you may want to consider. There may be times when you choose to take pictures at night or in poor lighting circumstances. For that reason, you will want to choose a camera that gives you plenty of options as far as ISO and exposure length. You will definitely want to choose a camera with long exposure abilities just in case you do decide to shoot at night. As far as ISO, since you will be shooting in various lighting circumstances, you will want to choose a camera with extended ISO levels.

When it comes to the lens, this is where many people make a mistake. They think they need their whole variety of lenses, but this is actually not the case. What you will need is a versatile telephoto wide angle lens. Be careful of standard telephoto because they may compress to the point that you cannot get all of sweeping landscapes. With a wide angle lens, you will be able to capture the whole scene of the landscape and you will be able to emphasize foregrounds for more dramatic shots.

There are a few other simple tools that you may need to consider. Of course, you may need to stabilize your camera, especially if you will need to take long exposures. A monopod will be more travel friendly, but some digital photographers choose a tripod because it is easier to set up and leave standing.

Certain filters can be helpful in outdoor digital photography. UV and polarizing filters can provide more intense colors while blocking out haze. Because of this, you will want to make sure you choose a lens that has threading if you do plan on adding filters.

When it comes to equipment for your scenic photography, the above items are truly all that you need to take along with you. Very rarely will you be in an instance that you would require other types of lenses or external flashes. This makes travelling light easy, which is a very good thing considering that you may be doing some hiking or walking in order to get the best scenic photography. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes and take plenty of water to drink.

There is a reason why scenic digital photography is so popular. There are simply so many opportunities to take breathtaking images. This type of photography has been around for a very long time and it will continue to be popular. When you get ready to take scenic pictures, remember that you do not have to take that much equipment and you can find opportunities almost anywhere that you look. All you will really need is a camera, a good lens, and a few small pieces of equipment and you will be ready to go.

Top feature image by Mavroudakis Fotis