1. Invest in a tripod
A sturdy tripod is a landscape photographer’s best tool. The tripod stabilizes the camera so you can take the exact shot you want. A tripod is ideal in low-light situations or during night photography, as the steadiness allows you to lower the shutter speed without sacrificing ISO, or grain. I find a tripod most useful when shooting motion (waterfalls, waves etc.) which allows to get creative using a lower shutter speed.
2. Use a good camera/lens
While it is possible to take photographs with any camera you should consider investing in a DSLR for your landscape photography needs. DSLR cameras provide maximum control over camera settings, which means not only is the quality of the image far superior, the possibilities of creating professional-looking pictures are endless.
DSLR cameras also allow the photographer to swap lenses. For sweeping canyons and great views, go with a wide lens (eg17-40mm). For more detailed images, don’t be afraid to use a zoom lens or telephoto lens (eg70-200mm). Experiment with different focal lengths (the distance in millimeters between the lens and the camera’s sensor) to see how the same subject can look in different ways.
3. Master Exposure
A competent landscape photographer should know how and when to adjust exposure, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. It is particularly important to have a good grip on these as most landscape photography occurs in the outdoors, where weather and light can change quickly.
Aperture is the size of the lens opening, which lets in light. Shutter speed is the duration of time the lens is open, if your leave it open for longer it will let in more light. ISO increases brightness, however, depending on the strength of light, ISO might also add grain. For a crisp image, try not to rely too heavily on ISO to compensate for light. All of these elements lead to exposure, which is the combined light that enters the camera sensor after adjusting aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Most landscape photography relies on wide shots and a large depth of field to capture the subject. A high aperture (f13or higher) allows most of the subject to come into sharp focus. Use the gridlines in your viewfinder or screen to find focus and scroll around until you are happy everything is in focus. If you have trouble getting clear focus across the entire frame, it is always possible to take a few shots with different areas of focus then layer them together in Photoshop during the editing process.
5.Shoot in RAW
There are a few different types of file formats, the most popular and familiar of which is JPEG. JPEG files automatically compress details, which results in image quality loss. RAW files however retain all data and information. While RAW files take much longer to process, the resulting images are easier to edit and higher in quality. All DSLR and large format cameras offer RAW as a file format. You will also now find that the more recent iPhone or Android can also shoot in RAW, with assistance from camera apps like Lightroom or ProShot.
6.Use the Rule of thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a popular trick for composing perfectly balanced photographs. The Rule of Thirds crosses three horizontal lines with three vertical lines. You can set these up through your viewfinder or on the back screen of your camera. The points where those lines meet are the points of interest and is where you should place the most interesting parts of your subject. Take care to keep the horizon along that middle horizontal line and you should have a foolproof formula for a picture perfect scene.
7. Find the best light
The best light is soft and diffused which makes natural landscapes look all the more breathtaking. Early mornings before sunrise and late evenings, just before sunset, offer this “golden hour” light that photographers chase. When preparing for a shoot make a note of sunrise and sunset times to plan accordingly.
8. Edit with Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop
Post processing is an important finishing step for landscape photography. Upload the RAW files into Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom where you can adjust everything from exposure to contrast. Lightroom is good for making quality edits to an image, whereas Photoshop offers a larger variety of options for transforming an image. This is useful if you need to airbrush, smooth, or add other effects like the ripple effect (see picture–>)
9. Go shooting after dinner
Once the sun goes down an entirely different scene emerges. You can experiment with long exposure photography to capture shooting stars, light trails left by passing cars, and other natural phenomena. Long exposure builds upon the basics of photographyvbut requires a few extra tools along with some additional know how.
In order to take a proper long exposure photograph, set up your tripod and set the frame. Next you’ll want to set the camera to bulb mode through the DSLR camera settings. Bulb mode manually forces open the shutter past the typical standard of 30 seconds. The longer the shutter is open, the longer the exposure. Just a hint if you are shooting the milkyway you don’t not want to go beyond 30 seconds as you will start to incur some movement in the stars. A remote shutter release connects to the camera so you don’t physically have to hold down the button to capture the exposure. Once you’re ready click down to open the shutter and start the photograph. Once you’re done click down again and you will have completed a long exposure photograph.
10. Get out there a shoot
The best thing you can do to improve your landscape photography is to get out there an explore this great world we live in. Exploration is key to landscape photography. For beginners it may seem daunting to go off the beaten path however it is precisely where you will find the best scenes. Take hundreds if not thousands of photos experimenting with different techniques, perspectives, and angles until you find a distinctive style that suits you.