Photography Tips: How To Photograph Landscapes

When it comes to photography tips, landscape photography involves taking pictures of everything from mountains to trees to deserts to canyons. But, there's more to landscape photography than simply pointing your camera at the horizon and shooting.  Photographers need to figure out what light will best show off the subject, how to frame it out and the like. Supplies are also important, and photographers need a good camera, lenses, filters, a monopod and a lot of patience.

Step 1: Scope out the Scene

While taking a picture of a mountain is great, a photographer also needs to add some reason why the audience would even consider looking at the picture. Basically, a photograph of an interesting object doesn't make it interesting all in itself. Add something to the foreground like a tree or flower, and then focus on the real subject. Or, try completely focusing on the foreground object. This will cause the background object to blur, giving the image a surreal quality.

Objects should be used to create frames. Shoot for the main subject being in the right or left-hand corner with something else in the opposing corner. Tree branches can be used to frame out a scene.

Step 2: Pack Light

Most landscape photographers have to hike to the location where they will be taking pictures. Photographers should bring their camera, some polarizing filters, wide angle lens, telephoto lens, water, snacks and a monopod, but not much else. 

The monopod is the better choice for a landscape photographer over a traditional tripod since they fold up easily. Many even fold up so that they can fit inside a pocket. Plus, photographers can quickly pull them out if they come across an animal.

Step 3: Experiment with Filters

Sunrises and sunsets are generally the best times of day to take pictures since the light is soft, but usually there's enough of it that a flash is not necessary. Avoid using the flash as much as possible, since it could wash out the scene and cause many of the subject's colors to be lost.

If photographs are being taken during the middle of the day, photographers should use some type of polarizing filter to block out the harsh mid-day sun. These will soften up the entire picture. Further, some colored filters can be used to create a different hue or even bring out the colors of rocks, trees or flowers.

Step 4: Try Different Focal Lengths

Experiment with focal lengths. Some scenes will look better with wide angle lenses, while others will need to be taken with a telephoto lens. For example, when trying to capture a mountain and meadow in the same shot, the wide angle lens will be the better choice.  If, however, the photographer is trying to zoom into a glacier on the mountain, then the photographer should go with the telephoto lens.

Step 5: Take a lot of Shots 

Landscape photographers generally have to take dozens of shots before they get one that they like. So, would-be landscape photographers should be prepared to stay in the same location for awhile and take a lot of photographs. Photographers should always carry extra memory cards in case the one that they are using fills up.