10 Fundamental Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography

So, you have your landscape photography gear loaded, and your hiking boots on.

You are headed to the nature trails in search of those scenic landscape photography gems, but before you go, here are ten landscape photography tips that will be vital while shooting in the field.

1 Maximise Depth of Field in Your Framing and Composition

Depth of field is achieved through the manipulation of the f-stop (aperture) setting.

Adjusting the aperture will create sharpness from the foreground to the background of your photo.

To maximize your depth of field, you must choose an aperture setting that will cover the full compositional frame.

Unless you want the foreground or background to be out of focus, a setting such as f/8, f/10, or higher could work to maximize depth of field.

alt="maximise depth of field in landscape photography"
As shown in the landscape image, there is an extended depth of field where the image is sharp from the foreground to the background. Photo by Crowpix Media.

A smaller aperture means less light reaching the sensor, so you must adjust your ISO and shutter speed according to the exposure triangle.

There will be a good chance that you will need to use a slow shutter speed when using smaller f-stops to achieve your desired depth of field.

The ISO can then be adjusted to the lowest number possible to fit the exposure triangle. This is where a tripod could come in useful.

2 Use a Tripod

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, achieving an extended depth of field will require a small aperture setting.

A tripod will likely be needed to achieve steady, sharp landscape images to achieve depth-of-field settings.

Tripods can be cumbersome when reaching challenging destinations but provide much-needed support in achieving sharp images. 

alt="use a tripos for balance and stability to capture motion landscape photography"
This image shows that a tripod allowed a slow shutter speed to capture the water’s motion. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Tripods can also be helpful when shooting at shutter speeds of 1-second, 10-second, or thirty seconds when ambient light is low, for example.

Tripods will prevent what is known as camera shake at slow shutter speed settings, so get into the habit of taking your tripod with you.

3 Figure Out The Focal Point (subject) of The Photo

When composing your scene, a focal point is one of the first things you need to identify.

The focal point is intended to be the initial contact point for the person who views your image.

Focal points are primarily associated with the components of the composition and apply to any type of photograph.

alt="lighthouse is the focal point and subject of the photograph"
Choose an appealing focal point or subject for your composition, such as the lighthouse in this photograph. Photo by Crowpix Media.

The focal point should grab the viewer’s attention. Any photograph without an obvious focal point will leave the viewer’s eye wandering.

A focal point can be several subjects, such as a boulder, a house, a person, an animal, or a tree, for example.

You should also consider the rule of thirds when framing your focal point.

4 The Photo Foreground Matters

Foregrounds help to grab the viewer’s attention and create a sense of dimension to your landscape photos. Here, we need to refer back to the depth of field.

The foreground, mid-ground, and background of your photo add a sense of depth and dimension to the image. 

alt="consider your foreground in your landscape photography composition"
Consider the visual effect that your foreground can bring to your composition. Photo by Crowpix Media.

The foreground leads the viewer’s eye into the composition, creating a natural path for the eye to follow.

5 Look at The Sky

In landscape photography, you must always consider the sky in your composition.

The sky can make or break the overall appeal of the image.

Often skies can be bland, washed-out, or simply distracting to the photo.

A photographer must choose between the sky and the foreground and which of the two will dominate the photo (think two-thirds of the rule of thirds).

alt="look at the sky for photography composition"
A polarizing filter can enhance your skies and add contrast. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Graduated and polarising filters can be a solution for bland skies. Skies can be adjusted in post-processing of the photo too.

In saying that, skies can sometimes be readily dramatic, with cloud and sun combined to be the image’s dominant focus.

6 Lines That Lead The Eyes

How are you leading the viewer’s eye in your images?

Leading lines are an element of composition that help deliver impact in your photo, as shown in the example below.

alt="low angle on a road alternative photography perspective leading line to the subject"
Choose lines that lead your viewer into the photo subject. The road and the line running through the image lead the viewer through the image. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Leading lines serve as a guide that leads the viewer’s eyes through the photo to the subject (focal point) of the photo.

Leading lines can be created by colour, contrast, or light, not just a literal line. Leading lines, including S and Z, must be dominant enough to be noticed.

7 Adapt to The Weather

Naturally, the weather is a significant consideration in landscape photography.

A photographer has no control over the weather (to the best of my knowledge).

However, to some degree, weather can be predicted, and one only needs to wait for the right opportunity to capture that special landscape photo moment.

alt="unusual weather provides opportunity for dramatic landscape like this beach"
Inclement weather can create moody, dramatic photos. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Both good and bad water conditions affect landscape photographers in the field.

Both conditions can provide exciting opportunities for unique landscape photos.

Inclement weather such as storms, wind, mist, dramatic clouds, sunset, and sunrise can sometimes provide unexpected yet awe-inspiring landscape scenes with mood.

8 Shoot in The Light of The Golden Hours 

Photography is often described as painting with light.

Hence, light is the not-so-secret ingredient that distinguishes between an ordinary and an extraordinary photo.

The correct use and understanding of light is the essential elixir for most landscape photos, the holy grail, so to speak. 

alt="image show the positive golden hours in city of Cape Town"
The golden hours reveal shapes and textures in a warm glowing light. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Golden hour is about 2 hours before sunrise and 2 hours before sunset.

Golden hours’ light is soft and warm and accentuates the image’s textures, patterns, and dimensions.

9 Don’t Forget About The Horizon in The Composition

Another composition-based consideration in landscape photography is the horizon.

The horizon must be straight.

When shooting, the trick with the horizon is to line your camera up straight to the horizon.

This can be quickly done when using a tripod that has level meters, either on the tripod or on the camera screen (digital level). Horizon lines can also be manipulated during post-processing.

alt="horizons must be straightened as shown image of the sea and ships"
Ensure your horizon is straight and consider the placement within the composition. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Another consideration is where you will place the horizon line within your composition. Here the rule of thirds is a good indicator of horizon placement.

10 Search Out Your Photographic Point of View

Angles play an important role in landscape photography. Changing your point of view can alter the image in fundamental ways.

Try a few different approaches when composing your shot.

Trying different angles may mean you have to walk or drive further to find the point of view that captures the wow shot.

alt="mountains in the Drakensberg provide different perspectives"
Change your point of view for a fresh approach. Consider using ground-level perspectives in your photos. Photo by Crowpix Media.

In Conclusion

Getting into nature to engage in landscape photography is great fun.

It is also relaxing and profoundly fulfilling.

At the end of the day, we want to post-process the best photos possible.

Considering the above tips on your next outdoor excursion, you should achieve better results.

As always, happy shooting.

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This blog post was first posted on https://wp.me/pd7rsc-5V

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