5 Fundamental Camera Settings For Successful Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is one of the most popular types of photography.

It offers much flexibility, from sweeping vistas to more abstract images showing colour and light.

The best landscape photography will capture both the details and the big picture, and while many things can make your photos stand out, these five camera settings are handy for getting great shots:


ISO is the digital equivalent of film speed, one of the most important settings to consider when shooting landscapes.

A higher ISO will make your photos grainy, while a lower ISO will result in smooth images.

Here’s why: When you’re shooting in low light conditions (or indoors), your camera needs more light than it can get from natural sources alone, so it amplifies the brightness by increasing its sensitivity, creating noise.

The more sensitive you make your camera sensor by increasing its ISO setting, the more visible this noise becomes in your images, making them look less attractive overall.

However, some photographers intentionally use the grain effect caused by ISO noise within their images for artistic effect.


So what’s an aspiring landscape photographer supposed to do?

Simple: keep your ISO as low as possible while still being able to capture enough light for sharpness on that tripod-mounted long exposure shot or, conversely, enough to shoot an ISO that allows for handheld landscape photography.

That way, when there’s no other choice but to use high ISOs during daytime hours (when sunlight just isn’t powerful enough), we’ll have fewer problems with graininess later down the road.


The camera aperture is the opening in the lens that allows light to pass through and enter the camera sensor.

Aperture is measured in f-stops, represented by numbers such as f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, etc. The smaller the f-stop number, the wider the aperture opening, and the more light enters the camera.

The aperture setting affects your image’s depth of field (DOF). DOF refers to the range of distance that appears to be in focus in your photograph.

A wide aperture (low f-stop number) will result in a shallow DOF, with only a narrow distance range appearing in focus. A wide aperture helps isolate a subject from its background and creates a blurry, dreamy effect.

Aperture and exposure.
Aperture and exposure.

On the other hand, a narrow aperture (high f-stop number) will result in a deep DOF, with an extensive range of distance appearing to be in focus. A narrow aperture is useful for landscape photography, where you want to capture as much detail as possible in the image’s foreground, middle ground, and background.

However, using a narrow aperture also means less light enters the camera, leading to slower shutter speeds and the need for a tripod to avoid camera shake.

Additionally, using a narrow aperture can result in diffraction, reducing the sharpness of your image.

Basically, the lower the f-stop number, the more significant that opening is, and the higher the f-stop number, the less light enters the camera, hence the more significant the depth of field.

The lower the aperture number, like f/2.8 or f/4 (wider opening), the more light will be exposed to the camera sensor and capture a brighter image. Still, it may result in softness around edges or corners due to diffraction.

The higher an aperture number gets, like f/22 or f/16, for example, means less light enters through that opening, so your images become darker but sharper overall with fewer distractions from any glare caused by bright areas nearby (like water droplets).

Understanding the technical function of the camera aperture and its effects on DOF and light is crucial for creating successful landscape images.

By choosing the appropriate aperture setting, you can control the amount of detail in focus in your picture and create a visual hierarchy that leads the viewer’s eye through the scene.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is measured as the time the shutter remains open, affecting how much light reaches your camera’s sensor.

The longer your shutter is open, the more time you give light to reach your sensor and expose an image with that light.

slow shutter speeds create motion blur as shown in the waterfall in the above photograph
Slow shutter speeds create motion blur, as shown in the waterfall in the above photograph. Photo by Crowpix Media.

Shorter shutter speeds allow less time for exposure, so they’re suitable for freezing motion, as required in action photography. In contrast, longer shutter speeds will blur motion, like when photographing waterfalls.

Shutter speed is not measured in seconds but in fractions of a second. When you set your camera to a shutter speed of 1/125th, the shutter will remain open for 1/125th of a second before closing again. Similarly, a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second means that the shutter will remain open for 1/8th of a second before closing again.

The shutter opens and remains open for the selected speed duration, allowing light to enter the camera and expose the sensor or film. Once the set shutter speed duration is over, the shutter closes, stopping the exposure.

It’s important to note that shutter speed is just one of the three factors that determine the exposure of an image, the other two being aperture and ISO.

White Balance

White balance is an essential setting in landscape photography, as it can significantly impact your images’ overall colour and tone.

White balance refers to the light source’s colour temperature, which can affect the colour of the scene you are photographing.

Different lighting conditions can produce different colour casts, making your photos appear too warm (yellow/orange) or cool (blue). For example, when shooting at sunrise or sunset, the warm light can give the scene a golden hue, while shooting under a cloudy sky can result in calmer, bluish tones.

White balance affects the colour range within your landscape photography composition.

By adjusting the white balance setting on your camera, you can compensate for these colour casts and ensure that the colours in your photos appear natural and accurate.

Many cameras have a range of pre-set white balance options, such as Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Tungsten, and Fluorescent, that you can use to match the light source’s colour temperature.

To achieve more accurate colours, you can also set a custom white balance based on a neutral colour in the scene, such as a grey card or a white wall.

Overall, adjusting your camera’s white balance setting can help you capture the true colours of the landscape you are photographing and create more visually appealing images.

alt="landscape photography clouds"
Tricky lighting conditions may require some experimentation with different white balance settings. Photo by Crowpix Media.

If you don’t have access to a physical button on your camera or phone, try searching online for instructions on how to set up white balance manually through software instead of hardware controls.

To adjust the white balance on your camera, look for a button labelled “WB” (for “white balance”). This button may be located in different places depending on your camera model.

You can also adjust the white balance using auto mode if you want the camera itself to choose what looks best–make sure that Auto-White Balance is selected first!


Proper exposure is essential in landscape photography, and you may need to adjust your camera’s exposure settings depending on the lighting conditions.

In general, expose the highlights in your scene to avoid losing detail in the bright areas. Use your camera’s histogram to ensure you are not overexposing or underexposing your images.

The exposure of a photograph refers to the amount of light that enters the camera and hits the image sensor or film. Proper exposure is essential in landscape photography.

Three factors determine exposure: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

Proper exposure in landscape photography is necessary because it allows you to capture the beauty and detail of the scene you photograph.

alt="landscape photography seascape ocean horizon dramatic clouds"
In landscape photography, your exposure settings are the spine of a successful image. Photo by Crowpix Media.

If the image is underexposed (too dark), the shadows will be too deep, and you will lose detail in the darker parts of the scene.

Overexposure (too bright) results in blown-out highlights, and you will lose detail in the brighter parts of the scene.

One way to ensure proper exposure in landscape photography is to use the histogram feature on your camera. The histogram is a graph that shows the distribution of light in the image, from the darkest areas on the left to the brightest spots on the right.

By checking the histogram, you can adjust your camera settings until the graph is well-balanced and the exposure is correct.

histogram exposure

Another way to ensure proper exposure is to use a neutral density filter. This filter reduces the light entering the camera, allowing you to use a slower shutter speed or wider aperture without overexposing the image.

In summary, proper exposure is crucial in landscape photography because it helps you capture the beauty and detail of the scene.

There are various ways to achieve it, such as using the histogram feature and neutral density filters.

In Conclusion

If you’re new to photography and want to try landscape photography, we recommend starting with these settings.

They are easy to understand and will help you get great shots quickly!

If you have any questions about the article, please leave them in the comments section below.

We hope this article was helpful for those who wish they knew more about these five settings before starting their next adventure into nature.

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This article was initially published at https://wp.me/pd7rsc-1aJ

Copyright@Crowpix Media. All Rights Reserved 2023


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