Landscape photography is different than portrait photography. Rather than shooting people and objects, you are simply shooting natural things in the world around you.
You typically don’t use artificial lighting with landscape images. The goal of a great landscape image is to capture the scene as you see it. Here are some tips to get you headed in the right direction when exploring the world of landscape photography.
The time of day you shoot can make or break a landscape image. Highlights, shadows, and colors (tones) vary greatly throughout the day. If possible, visit the location you want to shoot a few times at different times of day and note how the overall technical details of the scene change. Try to get an idea of the best time to set up your shot in order to capture the mood, details, and tones you are aiming for.
You won’t always be able to capture a perfectly planned out landscape image at the perfect time of day. Sometimes it may be a “one time thing” moment. You may see a beautiful setting that is a perfect candidate for a beautiful landscape image hundreds of miles away from home while traveling. If you want to capture it, you have to do so at that moment or you’ll miss your chance.
Composition matters in this situation. Look at the scene from different angles and perspectives. This should give you an idea of the best place to stand when composing your image to get the most out of the details and colors based on the lighting you are working with.
You should also do this even with perfectly planned out landscape images. Try to fill the frame with only the key elements of the scene that give it life and beauty. This may require you being a little closer or farther away from the point of interest.
If the sky is an important component of the image, frame the scene so that the horizon sets on the bottom line following the rule of thirds. If you want to put more emphasis on elements other than the sky, compose your shot so the horizon sits on the upper rule of thirds line.
When scouting out locations for landscape images, take into consideration how the weather could affect the scene and try to plan accordingly.
Some scenes may be more interesting in the middle of a roaring thunderstorm. Some may show detail better on an overcast day. Some may give you better results during sunrise or sunset hours with a clear sky. Different weather conditions can drastically change the dynamics of a landscape.
Remember to keep your gear safe and protected from rain and other elements.
Landscape photography isn’t always about capturing a wide range of mountains, a sandy beach, or a wooded forest. Sometimes little details are the point of interest.
A flower with rain droplets on the petals, a puddle with a reflection of trees and leaves, and a bird parched on a rustic fence are just a few examples of landscape details. Getting up close and personal with the details in nature can make for some very interesting photos.
Landscape image opportunities are all around us. They can be found in the mountains, a desert, the beach, in a forest, and even in the city. With proper planning (when possible), good composition, and just the right time of day and weather conditions, you can capture beautiful scenes that allow others to see things in the world that they may not otherwise get a chance to.