5 Simple Tips For Taking Better Landscape Photos

5 Simple Tips for Taking Better Landscape Photos

By Charlie Gardiner, travel photographer at World Of Travel Photography

Whether you’re a newbie to photography or know your way around Manual Mode, knowing a few essential landscape photography tips can be helpful. Throw in a good eye, a dose of patience and a sprinkle of luck and you are going to come away with images you can proudly share on Instagram.

If you want to add epic grand vistas to your repertoire, these five landscape photography tips will help turn you into a nomadic outdoor photographer in no time.

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1) Invest In The Best Gear

Cameras

A high quality camera is the most important piece of a equipment you need. A point-and-shoot camera won’t cut it here – for those truly crisp, beautiful shots you need to be able to switch lenses. That means you need either a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. Both systems are great, though I personally recommend mirrorless cameras as they’re much smaller, lighter and easier to travel with compared to a DSLR.

Depending on your budget, Fujifilm X-T20 or a Sony a7R Mark II are great options.

landscape photography tips

Mirrorless (top) vs DSLR (bottom)

Lenses

For landscape photography I recommending packing a wide-angle zoom lens and, if you have the space, a long zoom lens.

A wide-angle zoom, like the Canon EF-S 10-22mm, is great for capturing the whole scene and getting everything in the frame. This kind of focal range tends to be the ‘go-to’ lens for landscape photographers.

I also love having a good long lens, like the Fuji 55-200mm, in my kit bag. Long zoom lenses, or even telephoto lenses, allow a photographer to dial in to specific details of a landscape. Manufacturers make lenses in all different focal ranges, so your brand of camera will dictate which exact lens is best. Being able to do things like zoom into the tops of mountains as the rising sun splashes light across the peaks helps to create some kind of order among the chaos. I’ll talk more about composition in tip 3.

Tripods

A good, steady professional tripod is something you really can’t skip, especially if you plan any long exposure or low light photography. I recommend splurging on a solid, lightweight travel tripod from a high quality brand, like the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod. There are cheaper options but they come with quality differences and, trust me, build quality is something you notice when it comes to something holding an expensive camera.

landscape photography tips

Long exposures can allow you to create effects such as silky looking water

2) Plan Ahead

Rule 101 of landscape photography: know where the sun rises and sets! You will need to visualize your images before you even get on location. Use Google maps and a sun tracker app to figure out where you will be, which direction you will be shooting in and where the sun will be at that time of day.

You should be in position and ready to capture your image in the ‘golden hours’ of the day. That’s the hour or so after the sun rises and an hour or so before it sets.

Google really is your friend here so don’t forget to use it!

3) Think About Composition

The biggest mistake I see new photographers make is buying all of the latest fancy equipment without knowing how to get the most out of it. You are better off with mid-range equipment and great composition/framing then with high-end professional gear and no idea how to compose a shot. Spend your time learning your craft, not researching which camera has the most megapixels.

As I’ve already mentioned, make use of the soft golden light when the sun is low in the sky. It’s so much more flattering and makes the world of difference in landscape images.

Apart from good light, the proper use of leading lines is an element that will set your photos apart from the crowd. Leading lines should naturally lead the eye to the main subject in the frame. In this landscape shot I captured in Barcelona the main subject is the sun-burst as it dips behind the mountain in the distance.

landscape photography tips

Leading lines

The leading lines help draw the viewer into the photo and give it a sense of perspective. You can easily imagine yourself standing on the path behind the camera watching the sunset.

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4) Get Up Early

Apart from the amazing light given off in the early hours, it’s likely that there will be less people around to unwittingly photobomb your otherwise perfect image. I also find that getting up super early and heading out to your location is very peaceful. It helps me to get into a better state of mind, and with a clear head my creativity can really shine through.

The stresses of the day haven’t had the chance to drain you mentally yet so you can funnel all of your energy into photography. Waking up early and getting the amazing shot that you visualized leaves you with a massive sense of achievement. You had a goal and you did something you wouldn’t normally have done to achieve it.

5) Be Adventurous

If you want to get an image that will get people talking then you’re going to have to think outside of the box. It’s no good snapping the same view that can be found hundreds of times over on Google images.

While you do need to plan where you are going and figure out roughly which direction you should be looking in, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for other opportunities that may present themselves. If you are one of a bunch of photographers all with their cameras pointing in the same direction, get the shot and then move on and look for other compositions in the area.

Try to find something that other people haven’t thought of – that’s what will really make your images stand out. After all, your own take on things is where the creative side of photography comes in. My advice would be to get lost, make sure you have fully charged batteries with you and keep your head up. You never know what you’ll spot.

Do you have landscape photography tips to add? Please share in the comments below! 

landscape photography tips

About Charlie Gardiner

Charlie Gardiner is an English travel photographer brought up in Spain. He got his first camera to capture the beauty of his adopted home, but since then it has given him the opportunity to travel the world documenting his experiences along the way. His blog is dedicated to all things travel photography related and how you can get the most out of your trips.

Further Exploration:

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Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography [Great Reads]

Joby Gorillapod Travel Tripod [Must-Have Gear]

2 Comments

  1. I’ve always felt that getting up early and arriving at your destination before the crowds leads to the best photos. Not many people are willing to get up for a 5am sunrise, but it’s so worth it in the long run.

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