Shooting Better Landscape Photography

By October 7, 2014Photography Tips

Here are some easy tips for taking better landscape photography.

Wide Angle Lenses

You don’t need to buy a new lens in order to take better landscape photography. Chances are your camera came with a kit lens with a wide selection of focal lengths. When preparing to take a landscape photo start in the lowest focal length and work your way up until you find something you like. Small Tip: I’ve never taken a landscape photo that I liked with a lens focal length of greater than 50mm.

lincoln-center-nyc-empire-hotel-rooftop

Narrow Apertures

Narrow Apertures (high f) means that more is going to be in focus in the image. This is essential for bringing both the foreground and the background into focus. When shooting landscape photography I want the viewer to experience the whole image, this differs from portrait photography where you want the viewers’ eyes drawn to the focal point of the picture.

Steady Camera

The narrower your aperture is the less light that makes it to your camera’s sensor. There are two solutions to compensate for this: reduce your shutter speed or increase your ISO. In order to create crystal clear images it’s best to slow down the shutter speed since higher ISOs will add graininess to your photos. Slower shutter speeds increase your cameras sensitivity to shake making it really tough to take sharp images. Your best option is to use a tripod. It’s unrealistic for non-landscape photographers to always carry a tripod with us. So you will have to find some way to steady your camera. In the past I’ve leaned against poles, laid on the ground, rested the camera on tables, posts and benches; anything to keep the camera as steady as possible. This picture below would have never been possible had I not steadied the camera on a fence post.

golden gate bridge

 Right Focal Point

Pick the right focal point for the image. I mentioned that in Landscape photography I want the viewer to experience the whole image. At the same time, I want to point out something that makes the image unique so I will choose that as the focal point. The rest of the image should support what the image is all about.

Correct Lighting

The best times to shoot landscape pictures are during the two Golden Hours around sunrise and sunset. I use a great app on my phone called Sol: Sun Clock to know where I need to be and at what time. If taking a great landscape pictures isn’t the most important thing to you or doesn’t exactly work with your schedule this app can at least help you plan ahead. My favorite time to shoot a great sunset is during the final minutes of Golden Hour.

Dream Downtown Hotel View

Get a different view

When we find beautiful landscapes to take pictures pictures of we often forget that there might be a better location to snap the photo from. The next time you decide to snap a landscape photo think to yourself about whether or not you are in the right location. You might have to stand on a chair, break up everyone else’s view or even violate some rules or laws in order to put yourself in a better position to take the photo. If I’m shooting a location I like to switch up the different angles to try and find the right angle for me. For the picture below I had to lay down in a bush in order to get a better view of the sunset.

upper east side nyc sunset surrety rooftop garden

Throw a Filter on It

I recently went to Moab, Utah if you have never heard of it, it’s a dream location for Landscape photographers. One issue we had been having was the sky would be blown out when we wanted it to be blue. One of my coworkers metioned that he used polarizing filters to shoot landscape pictures. I bought two polarizing filters and the difference was huge. Here’s my favorite picture from Arches National Park.

arches national park

6 Comments

  • Kim says:

    Thomas, what filter did you use? Thank you!

    • Thomas says:

      Thanks for your question. When we went to Moab, UT I totally fucked up and forgot to order a polarizing filter. I was forced to buy one from the local photography store that charged me an arm and a leg for what should have been a $35 filter Tiffen circular polarizing filter. Right before our trip to Europe I decided to buy a better polarizing filter (B+W 82mm XS-Pro Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating) it’s really expensive for a filter but I’ve found the results are amazing. If you look at my Instagram I posted a picture of the Eiffel Tower on October 8th, 2014. The filter is what made that image. I’ve found that the filter is best for Landscape only. On a occasion it looks good in a landscape/fashion shot.

    • Thomas says:

      B+W 82mm XS-Pro Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating is the exact polarizing filter that I just bought but this is a new addition and I don’t use this on every shot, mostly just for landscape photos. Even a cheap polarizing filter like my first basic Tiffen will make a noticeable impact on your landscape shots. Also, if you don’t own or have access to Adobe Lightroom this can have an amazing impact on your landscape photos. I’m a huge fan of the Graduated Filters for landscape photos.

  • monica says:

    What exact polarizing filters do you work with? 🙂

  • Sara says:

    Hi Thomas:

    Can you give us a quick example of your typical workflow for editing landscape photos in Lightroom? Thanks so much!

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