There are few styles of photography as popular with professionals and amateurs as landscape photography. Whether you’re attempting to capture the majestic sweep of the mountains or a sandy expanse of beach and pristine water, landscapes are beautiful and evocative. While they might seem like the simplest things to capture, landscapes can actually be very challenging. The following tips will help you learn how to take great landscape photos no matter where you are, or what time of day you’re shooting.
1. What Makes a Good Landscape Photo?
The most important tip is learning what makes the best landscape photo. There’s no one answer here; different techniques can allow you to turn almost any view, whether mountains, beach, plains or cityscape into a stunning landscape. However, you do need to ensure that you’re starting with the right equipment. Avoid the urge to spend a lot of money on a top of the line camera and then attach a less than ideal lens. In the world of photography, the lens is more important than the camera. By the best camera you can afford, and then add in a high-quality lens that will get the job done right.
2. Speaking of Lenses…
When it comes to the best landscape photography, you’ll find that not all lens types are created equal. Eschew that basic option and instead choose a wide-angle lens. These are the industry standard for landscape photography, whether you’re capturing natural scenes, the urban jungle, or something else entirely. Wide-angle lenses show a much wider field of view, allowing you to come closer to capturing what your eye sees and giving a sense of wide-open space. You’ll also find that wide-angle lenses capture more light, allowing you to use faster shutter speeds while still creating the right depth of field.
3. Depth of Field
When it comes to what makes a good landscape photo, one of the techniques you’ll need to master is depth of field. To do this, you’ll need to keep all the elements of the scene in focus (you don’t want to focus on something in the foreground and create a blurred background, as this would reduce the depth). Set your aperture somewhere between f/16 and f/22 to keep both the foreground and the background sharp and focused. As a note, a tripod may be necessary here, as smaller apertures reduce the amount of light and make vibrations/shaking more visible in your photos. A tripod eliminates the resulting blur.
4. Find the Right Time of Day
One of the best landscape photography ideas for taking great pictures is to ensure that you’re photographing the landscape at the right time of day. Different light levels (and qualities) bring out different elements in the world around you. Would those mountains take on a different character at dusk? Would that lake scene be better photographed in the gentle light of a summer morning, with mist softening the photo? Most photographers find that early morning and late afternoon are the best times of day for capturing evocative landscapes. However, that rule doesn’t hold true at all times. Find the best time of day for your scene.
5. The Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is all about composition. If you’re just starting out with landscape photography, try dividing your frame into imaginary thirds and then ensuring there’s something of visual interest at each point where those lines intersect. If you’re photographing a horizon, put it along one of the lines you’ve imagined in your frame. Imagine your lens divided by four lines, two running horizontal and two running vertical, creating a grid with nine squares. You’ll find that your pictures are even better if you can manage to get a near and far focus point in each of the corners of the diagonals.