Landscape photography is one of the most rewarding types of photography. There is nothing better than working hard, dragging yourself out of bed when everyone is sleeping, staying at a location after everyone has left to create the image you have dreamt about making. A
t the same time, it can be so tricky and disappointing too. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve woken up at an insanely early hour, driven or hiked hours to THAT spot I had planned to shoot, only for the weather not to cooperate. But, like anything rewarding in life, those great moments are the ones you remember and are what keeps me coming back over and over again to landscape photography.
Landscape photography is the practice of capturing a natural or outdoors scene artfully or compellingly to engage the viewer’s eye and attention. Landscape photography is one of the most appreciated genres of photography. As we explore and travel, it’s easy to become transfixed by a beautiful landscape.
By learning to photograph it effectively, we can turn a memorable experience into a piece of fine art. While landscape photography is commonly joined with nature photography, a cityscape can also be considered a landscape in many circumstances.
Landscape photography doesn’t have to be composed in a horizontal format. It is a common misconception that you can’t take a landscape photograph in a vertical orientation. Each scene will introduce its elements that help dictate perspective, camera settings, and techniques for achieving the most compelling picture possible. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
As with every other photography niche, capturing great landscape photos involves putting a lot of thought into your shot before you click the shutter. Here are the steps that you will need to take to improve your landscape photography.
Types of Landscape Photography
The sea, and water in general, offers one of the better locations to get stunning images. By contrasting the water with something in the foreground–such as a dramatic landscape–you show both the calm and the aggressive actions of nature and the transition from earth to the sea.
Good seascape photographs capture the interplay between the calm and aggressive forces of nature. You also have many creative options, such as using longer shutter times to blur the water’s action. Or, you could use a filter to cut out glare or help average out the difference between the sky and the sea. You’re only limited by your creativity when taking images of the sea.
You’ll also want to understand camera settings for photographing the water. You’ll need to understand the impact of different aperture, shutter, and ISO settings on the available light and the water’s motion. You can use your camera metering modes to help you get the perfect exposure.
It may also help to think about the images you want and the type of light available. For example, if you know you want a sunrise or sunset shot, you can prepare for those light conditions.
Mountain landscape photography is another favourite. One of the challenges with this type of landscape is that you and your gear may have to hike for a distance to get the images you want. That means you’ll want to minimise the equipment you have to bring. You’ll need at least one good lens, a lightweight tripod, and you’ll want to get extra batteries and memory cards.
Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, which’s the forest landscape photographer’s challenge. A lot is going on in a forest, but when you start to think about the lines created by the trees and the play of the light in the woods, you can get some pretty spectacular shots.
For example, you can use the interplay of light and shadows to create various moods. As the light shines through the leaves of the trees, you get many exciting patterns, and if you take advantage of those, you will be rewarded with some stunning images.
Use the trees’ lines and the interplay of light and shadow to capture stunning images in the forest. Another tip is to seek out contrast and colour—for example, the bright colours of changing leaves in the fall. You can also get dramatic images by photographing the trail through the woods and using the shadows to your advantage. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Cloudscapes are one of the types of landscape photography that is a unique niche. You’ll also probably want a polarising filter to help improve the contrast between the clouds. You’ll also want to have a good understanding of the different and somewhat unique light conditions when photographing clouds. You might have, for example, the sun shining out from behind a cloud and creating both rays of light as well as powerful, vivid colours. To capture those kinds of conditions, you’ll likely want to set your camera to aperture priority mode, use an f stop between f/11 and f/32 to get a more significant depth of field and use a wide-angle lens. This will let you make the best of the lighting conditions and capture those nuances as well.
This niche is growing in interest, but it presents challenges. To photograph this type of landscape, you’ll need a tripod and shutter release cable since any level of camera shake will blur your image.
You’ll also want to frame the night sky with a dramatic foreground. If you don’t have some spectacular landscape scenery to put in the foreground, you can use your silhouette.
Framing the night sky with a dramatic foreground can allow you to capture spectacular astrophotography landscape images.
You’ll also definitely need a good understanding of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings because you will undoubtedly be working in reduced light settings. And you’ll need to adjust your focus.
If you want clear stars, you’ll need a shutter speed of 15 seconds or less. You’ll need to open your aperture as wide as possible (i.e., the lowest f stop setting), and your ISO setting will need to be as high as possible without adding more noise. It will need to be 6,400 or higher if you’re looking to capture the Milky Way’s cloudy appearance, for example. And, to improve the clarity of the images, set your focus as far out as it will go, and then step it back just a bit.
Some call this wide format photography, and it is a common technique for landscape photography. The idea here is that you’re taking several photographs and stitching them together. It can produce incredible images, but the challenge is to get the pictures just right in your camera.
To get great panoramic landscape photographs, you need to hold the camera level, so the images stitch together in all the right places. Your camera may have a setting that allows you to start with one photograph and then move left or right to capture the images that will be stitched together. The trick is to keep your camera level as you move it right or left. Even just a little, the landscape won’t come together at the right place in the final image if you lift it.
Time-lapse photography is fun but also technically challenging. One tip is to set the time interval on the images to match the action.
For fast-moving objects like cars or clouds moving fast, the interval between images should only be 1 or 2 seconds. Still, if it’s something slow-moving like a flower blooming or a construction site, the gap may need to be several minutes or even hours.
Another tip is to shoot in manual mode to keep the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture settings. As long as there are no significant changes in the light conditions, this will work fine, and you won’t have a flicker caused by changing exposure settings.
Long Exposure Photography
This technique can create beautiful, dramatic images, and it’s relatively simple to do. These are the kinds of ideas that have effects, such as blurred water or light trails.
An ND filter will allow you to keep the open aperture longer to capture incredible long exposure landscape images. You’ll need patience, a tripod, a shutter release cable for long exposure photography, and you might want a Neutral Density filter (ND filter). The tripod and shutter release line will allow you to prevent any vibration–for these shots, you’ll have the shutter open for longer than 60 seconds. The ND filter stops light from reaching the camera sensor, which will allow you to keep your aperture open longer.
Star Trail Photography
This is another type of long exposure photography, but it’s in a class all its own. This produces the kind of photographs where you see the stars forming a circle in the sky. Star trail photography is one of the types of long exposure photography in landscapes.
Since the sun is the main subject in sunrise/sunset photography, it creates its own set of challenges. The sun rising or setting also creates spectacular colours in the sky, but since you’re also photographing the sun, the contrast between its brightness and the rest of the scene makes it hard to get good exposures.
In this case, you’ll want a high aperture setting, a mid-range ISO setting, and you’ll have to determine the shutter speed with your light meter. When it reads 0, the exposure is correct. It also helps to bracket your shots with slightly different exposure settings and broaden your subject matter to include more scenery.
As with astrophotography, your challenge here will be the low light conditions. You’ll need a more open aperture, high ISO settings, and longer shutter speeds. You can shoot several different scenes, some of which might provide you with some artificial light sources. One example is shooting a cityscape or street photography at night.
Regardless of which landscape photography type you’re interested in, you’ll want to consider if you want your images to be representational or abstract. Representative images are also called straight or descriptive photography. The goal is to give your viewers a realistic representation of the scene. You need to take care of your exposure settings so that you capture accurate colours and backgrounds.
If you’d like to get more creative with your images, abstract landscape photography is one way to do just that. With this type of photography, the goal is more to stimulate a strong emotion in the viewer. You might do this by capturing various textures, tones, colours, and lines that create a specific mood.
Patterns and colours in water make great abstract landscape photography subjects. Some of the styles discussed above, such as star trail photography, lend themselves well to creating abstract images. You can also look for irregular patterns in structures like an iceberg or a rock wall to find inspiration for great abstract landscape photographs.
For each of the types of landscape photography, we’ve discussed their challenges and rewards presently. To capture stunning images, regardless of the kind of landscape photography you choose to pursue, you need to understand how to use your camera’s settings. This is important since there won’t be time to learn about them on the fly, and you might not get a second chance at the image. Understanding ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings are critical. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?
12 Tips to Help You Capture Stunning Landscape Photos
Whether you are an experienced photographer or just getting started, the unique landscape photographs you see have all got a few things in common. The reality of landscape photography is that you are reliant on your ability and skill of seeing and composing an image and Mother Nature. But regardless of whatever weather you encounter, there are countless opportunities to capture spectacular landscape photographs. Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
Here are the tips that you can follow if you want to capture stunning landscape photos.
Location, location, location
Landscape photography is as much about planning as it is about the actual process of photography. It would help if you always had a clear idea of where you are planning to go and what time of the day you will capture the best photograph. Learn how to read maps and understand how you can utilise them to find the perfect location. By planning your exact location, you will be able to maximise your time there and ensure that you get to your location safely and in plenty of time and find your way back (usually after sunset).
It’s incredible the number of times that the elements conspire to ruin a perfectly composed photograph. Landscape photography requires patience, just in case that white cloudy sky disperses just long enough to allow the sun to break through for you to take your shot. The key is to always allow yourself enough time at a location so that you can wait if you need to. Planning can also help you hugely, so make sure to check weather forecasts before leaving, maximising your opportunity for the weather you require.
Don’t be lazy
One of the reasons we are often stunned by impressive landscape photos is because it is a view taken in a way that we have never seen before. A picture was taken from the top of a mountain, which requires a considerable amount of time and effort to get to, is a view that most people won’t get to see for themselves. So don’t rely on easily accessible viewpoints that everyone else can pull up to and see. Instead, look for those unique spots (provided they are safe to get to) that offer amazing scenes, even if they require determination to get there.
Use the best light
Light is one of the most critical factors in any photograph, but even more so in landscape photography. It doesn’t matter how great the location is or how you compose your photo – if the light doesn’t do the scene justice, then the image will fail. The best light for landscape photography is early in the morning or late afternoon, with the midday sun offering the harshest light.
But part of the challenge of landscape photography is about being able to adapt and cope with different lighting conditions; for example, great landscape photos can be captured even on stormy or cloudy days. The key is to use the best light as much as possible and influence the look and feel of your photos with it.
Carry a tripod
Put, if you want to capture the best photographs, at the best time of the day, at the highest quality possible, then a tripod is an essential piece of equipment. Photography in low light conditions (e.g. early morning or early evening) without a tripod would require an increase in ISO to avoid camera shake, which means more noise in your images. Suppose you want to capture a scene using a slow shutter speed or long exposure (for example, to capture the movement of clouds or water), then without a tripod. In that case, you won’t hold the camera steady enough to avoid blurred images from the camera shake.
Maximise the depth of field
Choosing your depth of field is an integral part of capturing stunning landscapes. Landscape photos usually require the vast majority of the image to be sharp (the foreground and background), so you need a deeper depth of field than if you are taking a portrait of someone. But a shallower depth of field can also be a powerful creative tool if used correctly, as it can isolate the subject by keeping it sharp while the rest of the image is blurred. As a starting point, if you are looking to keep the majority of the photo quick, set your camera to Aperture Priority (A or Av) mode so you can take control of the aperture. Start at around f/8 and work up (f/11 or higher) until you get the desired effect.
Think about the composition
As much as possible, you should always aim to get your composition right when taking the photo rather than relying on post-production. If the scene doesn’t look right when you look at it through your viewfinder, then it won’t look good in the final output. You can use several techniques to help your composition (such as the rule of thirds), but ultimately you need to train yourself to be able to see a scene and analyze it in your mind. With practice, this will become second nature, but the important thing is to take your time. At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day.
Use neutral density and polarising filters.
Neutral Density filters and polarisers are an essential piece of kit for any landscape photographer. Often you will need to manipulate the available light or even try to enhance the natural elements. For example, suppose you are taking photos that include water. In that case, you may find you get unwanted reflections from the sun, which is where a polarising filter can help by minimising the reviews and also enhancing the colours (greens and blues). But remember, polarising filters often have little or no effect on a scene if you’re directly facing the sun or it’s behind you. For best results, position yourself between 45° and 90° to the sun.
One of the other significant challenges of landscape photography is getting a balanced exposure between the foreground, which is usually darker, and a bright sky. Graduated ND filters help to compensate for this by darkening the sky while keeping the foreground brighter. This can be replicated in post-production, but it is always best to try and capture the photo as perfectly as possible in-camera.
Use the histogram
Histograms are an essential tool in photography, which you should aim to learn how to read and utilise the findings to improve your photos. A histogram is a simple graph that shows the different tonal distribution in your image. The graph’s left side is for dark tones, and the right side of the chart represents bright tones.
For instance, if you find that most of the graph is shifted to one side, this indicates that your photo is too light or dark (overexposed or underexposed). This isn’t always a bad thing, and some images work perfectly well either way. However, if you find that your graph extends beyond the left or right edge, this shows that you have parts of the photo with lost detail (pure black areas if the histogram extends beyond the left edge and pure white if it extends beyond the right edge). It would help if you avoided this by seeing the histogram’s evidence; you can correct it by either recomposing the image or compensating for the exposure.
Never settle for a good photo.
This is true of any photograph that you are taking. It doesn’t matter if it is a landscape or a portrait; if you can do it better, then you should. But often, because of the time and effort that landscape photography requires, people settle for a good photo rather than waiting or coming back to take a better one. You should always aim to photograph anything at the best possible time, in the best possible way, even if that means waiting or coming back later.
Shoot in RAW format
Put, if your camera is capable of capturing photos in RAW format, then I recommend that you always charge RAW files. They contain much more detail and information and give far greater flexibility in post-production without losing quality. Remember, you can permanently save RAW files in whatever other formats you require, but you will not be able to save JPEGs as RAW files, so ultimately, you are limited to the quality at which the JPEG was shot.
For all the techniques and rules that exist to help aid composition and the process of taking the photo, there is always room to experiment. Digital photography means that taking a picture isn’t wasting a negative (and costing money), so there is ample opportunity to break the rules and your style sometimes. Even if the majority of the time it doesn’t work and the image doesn’t look great, now and again, you might uncover a gem. If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
Landscape photography is one of the most common genres that amateur and professional photographers get into. With practice, hard work, and patience, you can capture stunning landscape photos that will look great in your portfolio.