Are you looking for a few tips to improve your landscape photography skills? Look no further! Here are 10 tips written by professional photographer (and regular Telephoto.com contributor) David Taylor. All of the photos are by Jason Friend.
The natural world won’t always play ball. Conditions change, sometimes within the space of a few minutes. If the light isn’t right for your subject don’t try to force a photo. Shoot something better suited to the conditions. Details, such as flowers, are a good alternative when clouds roll in and snuff out the sun.
Skies can be a wonderful patchwork of colour and detail. They can also be dull, grey things. If a sky isn’t that great create a compositions that either minimise the amount of sky in the shot, or even cut it out altogether.
The Sky’s the Limit
One tricky aspect of landscape photography is balancing the exposure of the sky and ground. There are two ways to achieve this: either use ND graduate filters or bracket your shots to merge the correctly exposed sky from one shot with the ground from another.
Shooting using Raw will give you more scope for correcting your images in post-production later. Raw files have a greater dynamic range than JPEG too, so more details are preserved in both the highlights and shadows.
There’s no need to use Manual exposure when shooting landscapes. Aperture priority will let you set the aperture for the required depth of field, leaving the camera to sort out the shutter speed. This is especially useful if you’re swapping light- sapping filters on and off your camera, or if the light levels are prone to changing as you shoot.
Landscapes aren’t necessarily static, particularly when they contain water or wind-blown foliage.
Use long shutter speeds to convey this movement in your shots. To achieve lengthy exposures you may you need to use ND filters, unless you’re shooting in very low light. Start with an exposure of 1 second and experiment from there.
If you only own one filter make it a polariser. They can be used to deepen the blue of skies at an angle of roughly 90° to the sun. They can also be used to dull down reflections on wet surfaces, such as rocks or sand.
On the Horizon
The coast is a rewarding and dynamic place to shoot landscape photos. However, you need to take more care to keep the horizon level than you would inland. You never see a sea that slopes in real life so it looks odd when seen in a photo!
Landscapes change throughout the year, particularly in temperate areas of the world. Try revisiting one location over twelve months to capture it through the seasons. Deciduous woodland is ideal for a project like this.
The most pleasing landscape photos are usually shot during the ‘golden hour’, the first hour after sunrise or the last before sunset.
If a location is better in the morning set your alarm clock so that you have plenty of time to get there. Allow at least twenty minutes at the location to find possible compositions.
The above 10 tips were taken from the ‘101 TIPS TO MAKE BETTER PHOTOS’ ebook.
If you would like to find out what the other 91 photography tips are, please click here to download a free copy of the book.
David Taylor is a British award-winning landscape and travel photographer, who was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne and now lives in the ancient market town of Hexham, Northumberland. He took his first photograph at the age of 14, when his parents gave him a Kodak Instamatic for Christmas, and he has been taking photographs ever since.
His landscape photos have been used in publicity materials by local businesses, councils and tourism organisations, such as the Northumberland National Park Authority. He has also supplied images and articles to both regional and national magazines including Living North, Countryfile, Black & White Photography and Outdoor Photography.