Are you looking for landscape photography tips for beginners, to take your photography skills to the next level?
Capturing nature in its ethereal beauty is one of the most fulfilling experiences in photography. Taking such beautiful photos, however, can be quite challenging. This article helps with exactly that and offers the best landscape photography tips for beginners!
Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners
Tip 1. Use the Right Camera
The best cameras for landscape photography are mirrorless and DSLR cameras. These cameras are superior to your average smartphone camera simply because they have larger sensors and many more tweakable settings. Entry-level cameras are quite affordable and do a fairly good job of capturing landscapes. For the highest quality results, it is recommended you go for a 35mm full-frame camera. But if you are on a budget you can opt for a less expensive APS-C sensor camera.
For more info on what camera to choose for landscape photography, read my recent article The Best Camera for Landscape Photography.
Tip 2. Use a Great Lens
Pairing a great camera with a bad lens will only lead to terrible results. Purchasing a lens requires as much thought as purchasing a new camera. Wide-angle lenses are usually preferred since you can capture wider perspectives. To start off, you can buy lenses that are below 35mm, since they are still fairly versatile for other uses.
Although going very low, such as under 24mm, is great for landscape photography, it can sometimes give a distorted view. Find an appropriate lens that you like and works well with your camera.
You can take a look at this post: Best Lenses for Landscape Photography.
Tweaking the camera settings is important to get the best out of your shots. In most cases, just the Aperture Priority (A or Av in a majority of cameras) should suffice for a large percentage of landscape shots. Getting comfortable with manual mode, however, gives you the most flexibility and leads to the best photographs.
Aperture: In order to have everything in the field of view in focus, you need to have a large depth of field. Higher apertures, such as f/13, f/16, or f/22 are great for this.
Shutter Speed: As a rule of thumb for handheld photography, generally the upper limit of the shutter speed is approximately the reciprocal of the focal length. This means that if you are using a 35mm focal length, your shutter speed should be 1/35th of a second or faster. If you are using a tripod, however, you can have very slow shutter speeds for better results.
ISO: Lower ISOs produce images with lesser noise. Start at the lower end of your camera’s ISO range and work up from there. Unless you are taking handheld shots (which you must avoid) a low ISO of 100 or 200 works best.
RAW: Shooting in RAW is always better than shooting in JPEG. Editing photographs produces much better results when shooting RAW, and helps you bring out better highlights and shadow details. The only downside is that they take up a lot more memory space, which is justified.
Tip 4. Shoot During the Golden Hour
The best time of the day to shoot landscape photographs is a period just after sunrise and just before sunset, known as the Golden Hour. The name arises from the fact that the light bathes the entire landscape in a warm gold tone.
Since this light is quite soft after travelling through multiple layers of the earth’s atmosphere, the contrast of the entire landscape is also lower. Your camera will have an easier time in accurately capturing the highlights and shadows.
Tip 5. Composition for Landscape Photography
Having the best camera and lens, and shooting in the best light will still not work in your favor if you don’t have strong composition. Understanding the rules of composition is crucial in capturing memorable photographs.
The rule of thirds, leading lines, and so on are good things to know and practice, to get the best out of your shots. Understand why these rules are important, and how they are critical in creating impactful photographs.
Do note that these rules of composition can be broken. Knowing why you are breaking them, and why the image works, is important. With practice and experimentation, composing great images will become second nature to you!
Tip 6. Use Tripod and ND Filters
In a lot of landscape photography, slow shutter speeds are necessary. This greatly increases the chances and occurrences of blurred photographs. A tripod completely eliminates this, even at faster shutter speeds. It also makes focusing a much easier task.
ND filters or neutral density filters allow you to have long shutter speeds even during the daytime. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities with long exposure landscape photography and can help you take some incredible shots.
Related: Tripods for Landscape Photography
Tip 7. Use Long Exposure
Long exposures can create magic effects in landscape photography. To use the long exposure technique you’ll also need a shutter release to avoid introducing camera shaking.
Long exposure can be used for shooting flowing water, such as waterfalls, and add that beautiful blur effect that makes it look like mist. A shutter speed of 1/30th of a second and above will start introducing blur in the water. You can take it even further and slow your shutter speed to 1 or 2 seconds for even better results.
As mentioned above, make sure you use a tripod and a shutter release to avoid camera shakes.
Tip 8. Pre-Visualize Your Photographs
In other words, plan in advance. Planning your photoshoot in advance will give you the opportunity to gather information on the location and possible angles to take photos from.
If your landscape location is not popular, make the effort to scout it out in advance. Otherwise you might get away with just checking Instagram to see from what angles other photographers are shooting.
The secret is to waste as little time as possible on location to decide your point of view and to avoid missing the best light, especially if you are shooting during the golden hour.
You can even use your phone and take a couple of photos in advance to study possible compositions.
Tip 9. Make Sure Everything is Sharp
Sometimes just using the right aperture is not enough. To get everything in your image sharp you might have to use focus stacking.
When you have elements on the foreground and a distant background, it’s impossible for the camera to have a depth-of-field deep enough to cover the entire distance.
You’ll have to take multiple photos, focusing in each one on the main element in a layer of the composition. I usually take 3 photos, one focusing on the foreground, one focusing on the midground, and finally one for the background.
You’ll then need to blend the 3 photos together in Photoshop.
Related: Famous Landscape Photographers
Bonus Tip: Video Tutorial
With these simple tips in mind, you too can be on your way to becoming an excellent landscape photographer!
It’s your turn now, will you plan in advance your next landscape photos? How about trying to create blur in the water?
Don’t forget to share this post with your friend.
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.