I’ve recently met quite a few travel photographers who claimed to really dislike landscape photography. They’d rather prefer to shoot busy streets, portraits, or at least animals. I was told the landscape seems difficult, because of being completely still, static. How to make an interesting image of something that doesn’t move, something that doesn’t really change (unless you count the seasons passing by)? Believe me or not, the quietness and stillness might become the biggest advantage of high quality landscape photography. You just need to be a little prepared to shoot it well.
1. Don’t forget your tripod
You need your camera to be completely still for the picture to be perfect. No one wants these blurry patches, am I right? Longer shutter speed is recommended, and you have to do anything you can to ensure absolute stillness of your device during the exposure. Carrying a tripod might be a bit of pain, but I guarantee you it will pay back!
2. The depth is the key to landscape photography
Another key rule is the depth of the image. To make your image speak volumes, you need to have most of your composition in focus. Remember, the deeper, the better!
2. Photographing the water
A river or a mountain stream is somewhat naturally becoming an intuitively chosen subject of an image. Before capturing it, think of a role you want it to play in the photograph you are creating. You can play differently with a still, slowly flowing, wide river, and a dynamic, narrow mountain stream situated on sharp rocks. Flowing water can be used both as a central, dominant element of the composition, as one of the leading lines, a horizontal line, or just as a background element for other objects situated in the foreground. Remember to be open to the surroundings and use the opportunities given to you by the space – play with the reflections in the water to make the image more eye-catching. Use light as an object. If water is the main subject of the photograph, you can also crop and rotate it until you achieve a unique composition.
3. What about the forest?
They say capturing water is a real challenge, but forests aren’t much easier. It’s just demanding in a different way. Most of it depends on the way you want to portray this miracle of nature. Do you want it to be dark and mysterious or full of light and joy? Or perhaps a bit eerie? A lot of it is a matter of a personal decision of the photographer. Remember that the picture is a way to express how you feel about a certain place, scene, or landscape photography in general. This is a rule for capturing forest, mountains, tropical islands, prairies, and deserts. The one and only rule you need to remember about (ok, besides the depth rule) is that you always need to have one unique point of interest that will become a dominant object of your image. It can be anything – a flower, a trunk, a bush, a tree, a dancing squirrel, anything. You just need to find a way to catch an eye of the person who will be scrolling through your images. Always look for patterns and leading lines!
4. Shoot in different weather
The internet and social media platforms are full of nature photos taken in perfect weather, filled in with sunshine, joy, and laughter. And they are sweet and beautiful for sure. But it’s bad, stormy weather that brings real opportunities for unique, dramatic landscape photography. Just remember to protect your gear and yourself. Invest in a waterproof case to stay dry and don’t shoot from unsafe viewpoints!
5. Try out more than one viewpoint
Landscapes aren’t boring. Beauty, though, is in the eyes of the one who’s looking. It’s about the way we look and the perspective, which is why it’s crucial to look at one certain scene from different points – one might make the nature look way prettier than the other. Experiment, and never limit yourself to just one shooting spot. This will also help you take a fresh take on a frequently visited space, which is why it’s a important tip to go by while traveling through touristy areas, like famous national parks or nature monuments that were and are photographed thousands times a day.
6. Less is more
Don’t try to include the entire panorama in your shot. Choose the foreground carefully, and decide what your dominant object will be before pressing the shooting button. Decide which elements are absolutely essential for your composition and built it up around it. If there are too many elements and none of them is strikingly dominant, the photo might appear uninteresting to the viewer’s eye.
7. Think in B&W
We rarely think of black and white mode while shooting landscapes. It’s somehow more typical for urban and street shots, not for the natural beauty. There are some exceptions, though, and it pays off to experiment with them. Try shooting b&w if you experience heavy, cloudy sky. Fluffy clouds in a bright, blue sky might also give intriguing effect if shot in monochrome. You can always try several versions!
8. Revisit places
It’s impossible to step in the same river twice. This rule is also true when it comes to landscape photography and shooting natural beauty – weather and light are unique. You will never see a place look exactly the same twice, as these external conditions literally co-create the landscape as we experience it. This makes every landscape shot unique. Which also means that if you revisit a location, you will come home with a totally different set of images. Isn’t this an interesting experiment to conduct on your next trip? Just go somewhere you’ve explored before!
I really hope you will find these tips helpful while traveling through some beautiful areas. Also, let us know in comments if you have any landscape photography wisdom to share with us and our readers! The more tips we get, the better pics we take!