When it comes to landscape photography, practice (and knowledge) makes someone evolve and get better by the time. Let’s face it. Apart from really enjoying the environment during your hiking trip, you do want some memories to look at.
Gradually, many hikers after using their mobile phone, are looking for improved ways to take wide angle pictures or distant ones. There, a smartphone, won’t do the trick. You will need a camera and 1 or 2 proper lens.
However, you also need 2 things. Knowledge on photography, which can be achieved online or better through a class, plus insights and advice from others who also like and do landscape photography.
Here is a list of insights for landscape photography, we are sure you will appreciate.
Spoiler alert: No matter all the insights and tips, it will help you a lot to actually “be present” with what you do. It is very important to be able to actually see what is around you, even at a distance. For example to see the story in a scene. When you do, a scene takes life by itself.
It is like energizing the spirit of the scene. There, photos seem to produce a feeling. Seem like they are talking to you or to your audience.
Landscape photography insights
Let the Landscape talk to you. It will if you just let it. It will reveal its lines and patterns and depth.
Get up early in the day. Best light is usually when sun rises and when it goes down. Being there as light is revealed will give you extraordinary photos.
Allow imperfection. Life things, faces and landscapes are far from perfect. Capturing imperfection is an art.
As you look in front of you for that perfect shot, turn and look behind. Things happen even when you are not looking.
Plan ahead. There are online services and applications that provide you with information on the light or lack of it (i.e. cloudy weather), per location, per time of the day. You need to know the position of the sun in a place you will arrive after many hours of traveling? There are applications even for that.
You need a point of view and not necessarily a ton of equipment. Equipment is like any tool. If you can’t “see” or don’t know the basics, equipment is just weight.
Got the proper shot in a sunny day? Don’t over light it. There is a trend in Instagram and in social media in general to see photos who are processed so much like they were taken close to the actual surface of sun. Let natural speak.
Excellent photos can be taken with clouds, rain, snow, dust, strong wind and in all kinds of conditions. Mid day sun is not necessarily ideal.
The same place can show different magic and sentiments under different conditions and seasons. Melancholy of winter landscapes reveal celebration of life in Spring. Visit and re-visit.
Lines and patterns drive the eye of the viewer. Seek them and use them in your landscape photography.
There is the wide/big landscape, but there is the small landscape also. The micro environment around a flower is another one when you look closer. The log of a fallen pine tree, covered with mushrooms can reveal a different world under the right angle.
To use a tripod or not? Do as you feel best and comfortable. There were many times when I wished I had my tripod with me.
Plan you trip ahead, as you will probably not hike with just your camera equipment. Check for weather conditions, what you need to have during the day and plan as in proper hiking for dangers and well-being. If you can visit the location before the shooting day.
When you arrive at your scene, don’t take the camera out. Stop. Relax. See. Really see.
On the other hand… If you feel you must go out of your way do it. A surprise may await, over the hill. Of course, with safety first.
Usage of wide angle lens produces great results but depends on the case too. Maybe your “visual story” gets lost in wide angle with too many elements inside it.
Shoot in RAW. Always. If your camera has this option to shoot in RAW and high JPEG at the same time, use it. Such cameras have dual cards and allow RAW to be saved in one, while the JPEG are saved in the other.
HDR is not always the best option for landscape photography. Photos may appear unreal with HDR. Practice.
Rule of thirds is right but nature doesn’t always comply to such. So, try to “see”.
A shot isn’t necessary a memory. To explain this if you try to include all that are around in order to “remember the place”, your shot may end up boring or with just… things included.
Try to think the same frame in black and white… It may surprise you.
Avoid centering the main focus point of the frame. Off center points look more interesting while absolutely centered ones may look flat. Of course this can be reversed when there is a natural pattern or line in place.
Said that, look for symmetry. It is everywhere, even in imperfect frames.
Use diagonals. Makes photos look more active and interesting.
Lie down on the grass and shoot the tree tops with the sky.
Look for the drama in a condition/frame.
Have extra batteries and storage cards.
Look and learn from the work of others.
Break the rules in your landscape photography!