Sam Kacey

Sam's expertise is in Landscape, Portrait, and Travel photography. He and his team also review the best Cameras and Lenses on the market in 2022 for B&H Photo.

Endless landscapes await. Don’t let inexperience stop you. Even a complete novice can do it and get reasonably good results. That’s the thing about photography in general and landscape photography specifically is that anyone can do it – including beginners. Check out our tips below and then get busy planning your next photoshoot. After all, the best way to improve your skills as a landscape photographer is through regular practice.

Take More Shots More Often

Nothing else can replace the act of getting out there with your camera and actually taking your best shot. Try out different scenarios and see what you can create. The important thing is to get busy point the lens at any landscape that appeals to you. Start where you are with what you have. But do it today. Then keep on doing it and make a conscious effort to improve your results.

As you gain experience and skill in landscape photography, you’re going to want more than a basic camera and lens. But the most prudent approach is to use what you have and grow as your knowledge and skills improve and your budget allows.

Get a Decent Quality Camera

Fact is, the quality of your equipment has it has a direct impact on the type of work you’re able to do. This is true in any field and especially true in photography. You can snap a shot with a simple cell phone camera. But eventually you’ll want to upgrade to a better camera for landscape photography.

You don’t need a top of the line model. There are plenty of DSLR and mirror-less cameras available these days and they are ideal for landscape photography. You won’t have to break the bank either. A good quality entry-level DSLR is quite affordable and they work really well for capturing beautiful vistas and landscapes.

If you are interested in the best cameras under $300 we review the top 5 in the market for 2021.

These options are much better then the cameras you’ll find in smart phones because they have larger sensors. There are also a lot more settings you can adjust as you go – not to mention attachments like lenses and filters.

If you want the best quality results – get a 35mm full frame camera. That’s what you should aim for. But if it’s not in your budget, you can opt for a more inexpensive APS – C sensor camera.

Choose a Lens That Serves The Purpose

Along with a good camera, you’ll also want to pick up a lens. Typically wide-angle lenses are preferred for beautiful landscape photography because they allow you to capture wider shots. So you can shoot the whole horizon – or get the mountain and the trees in the same shot. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure the lens you select works well with your camera.

Get To Know Your Equipment

It is one thing to have the gear you need. But it is something else entirely to understand its functionality. Read the manual that comes with your camera and accessories. Familiarize yourself with your equipment. Get to know the various settings and where you make those important adjustments. For most of your landscape shots, the Aperture Priority (marked as A or Av on most cameras) will do.

As you become a more skilled photographer, it’s a good idea to practice taking shots in manual mode. In manual mode, you have total control over your equipment – which can be both a good or bad thing.

To capture beautiful landscapes and have everything you can see through the viewfinder in full focus ,you’ll need a large depth of field. To accomplish this, set your camera to a higher aperture setting – anywhere from F/13 to F/22 should work well.

If you are holding your camera in your hand, you are somewhat limited in the shutter speeds you can deploy due to the natural vibration that occurs. But with the tripod, you have much more flexibility.
Start with the low ISO setting and move up as you see fit. A low ISO of 100 or 200 is preferred.

Get in the Habit of Using a Tripod

You could take a snapshot of virtually any scene, anywhere and at any time with the phone in your pocket. But that’s a practice best left to amateurs. There’s just no comparison between those kinds of photos and taking a quality landscape shot from a decent camera mounted on a tripod.

For the best landscape photography, slower shutter speeds are necessary. But you can’t achieve that by holding the camera in your hand, unless you’re able to hold it remarkably still. But then you wouldn’t be human.

A tripod eliminates the chance of movement or vibration and it allows a greater range of shutter speeds. It also makes it easier for you to focus on the image you want to capture.

Use a Neutral Density Filter in Daylight Hours

With an ND filter attached to your camera, a whole new world of landscape photography opens up for you. These filters allow you to have longer shutter times even during daylight hours. With this extended exposure and longer shutter speeds (known as long exposure), you can take some magnificent landscape photos.

Deploying long exposure in your landscape photography can take your photography skills to the next level by adding a stunning blurred effect that looks impressive. To begin to achieve this blurred effect, try setting your camera to a shutter speed of 1/30 of the second. You can ramp it up even further for better results. But try t out for yourself and experiment.

Shoot in Raw Format instead of JPEG

Both options are typically offered on most cameras these days. But it’s important to shoot in RAW format. The reason is that the raw file you’ll have is the original snapshot – complete with all the data it holds. This makes it much easier to edit the photograph later and produce stellar results. Try editing in JPEG format and you’ll find it more difficult and the quality of the image can take a hit. But the problem with saving in RAW format is that the file sizes are larger. It’s a trade-off worth having and you can overcome the file size issue by having extra storage available when you’re shooting all day long.

Shoot Landscapes Scenes During the “Golden Hour”

There are actually two golden hours. One is the hour after sunrise and the second – the hour just before sunset. Early mornings are better for crisp and clear images. Evenings, just before sundown is best for a softer, more subdued light. At this time, the angle of the sun is such that it produces a soft light with a golden tone. This makes it easier to detail highlights and shadows.

Compose the Most Striking Images

Image composition is about how the various elements can be positioned in an image. It’s important to get to know the basics of composition – including the rule of thirds and leading lines. As you make this a habitual process – your results will improve dramatically. You’ll be shooting like a pro. The basics of good composition can help you create landscapes that stand out.

Plan Your Shoot In Advance

The best photographers don’t just start taking shots wherever they are. They plan in advance to get the best results. Planning your photo shoot makes you keenly aware of the kind of images you are striving to achieve. If possible, scout out your proposed location in advance and check it out from different perspectives and elevations.

If it’s a location that’s popular with other photographers and tourists, preplanning by actually visiting the site may be more challenging. But you may be able to do some research online to find out suitable locations to set up your gear.

Better results in photography tend to happen when preparation meets opportunity. You don’t want to waste time when you arrive with your equipment .You want to start shooting right away from the best vantage points – particularly if it’s during the golden hour and time is of the essence.

Monitor Your Shots as You Go

Look closely at the detail and make sure everything is sharp and clear. When you have elements in the foreground and the background is off in the distance – you may have to use a process called focus stacking. This is where you take multiple shots – typically three – and focus on one layer of your composition at a time. That means one shot focused on the foreground, one on the midrange and one on the background. You then use a photo editor like Photoshop to blend the three photographs together. Free options include Photopea and Gimp. Any of these photo editing programs will work and the last two won’t cost you any money.

Plan Your Photos

Shooting landscape photos doesn’t happen by chance – it’s a deliberate process. Plan out the shots you want to capture and create a composition that is striking. Think like an artist. Imagine the kind of results you want to achieve in your mind and figure out how to create these masterpieces. You won’t just be snapping one shot after another. You’ll be thinking, planning and executing with increasing skill.

Try Shooting With a Telephoto Lens

While typical landscape shots are captured with a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens opens up a new range of possibilities. This allows you to isolate various elements to create a clear focal point while eliminating other elements that can be distracting.

A telephoto lens forces you to become a better photographer because it makes you think about the composition of your images.

You’re now equipped with the knowledge you need to take some impressive landscape images. Using these tips will help you make dramatic improvements in the quality of your photographs.

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