8 Landscape Photography Tips
1 Assess the scene. The biggest problem when photographing spectacular landscapes is you can often get overwhelmed by it and just start shooting, shooting, shooting. You have to avoid that, because when you get home you may find you have missed “the shot”. The key is to look for elements in the scene that convey that picture. Get back from the scene sometimes. Use the foreground, trees or lines that try and draw you into the image.
2. Plan for the sunrise. Always get to a sunrise location as early as you can. Give yourself plenty of time to find your position and check all your camera settings, so you’re not freaking out running here and there. You want to be able to see the sunrise when it first appears. So, I always like to be there at least half an hour before first light.
3. Relax. A very important thing when you’re taking photographs is to slow down and relax. Often, your mind starts to go too quickly and you get confused with what’s happening – especially if it’s fast action such as at sunrise. You tend to get caught up in the moment. It’s very important to slow yourself down to try and make sure you have everything right to capture those special moments. I have seen many people miss the best shots by getting overwhelmed and too excited. It can be something as simple as not having your camera in focus, or having it on the wrong setting. So train yourself – even when things are happening quickly – to slow down. That way you will be more likely to get those incredible shots.
4. Don’t over shoot. Since the advent of digital photography, people tend to go to an area, shoot the living daylights out of it and assume they are going to get a great shot. If you do this, you may actually miss the decisive moment because you haven’t really thought about what you’re doing there, what is happening, and how you are going to convey that back to people. Remember, it’s not about how many shots you take; it’s about capturing the magical moment. Your job of editing back at home will be much easier if you don’t have hundreds of images to go through. Think about what you’re doing and experience the moment to capture the magical shots.
5. Avoid bad advice. One of things I have realised through running many photographic workshops, is that a lot of people are given bad advice. So please be careful who you take advice from, because it may send you down a road you never needed to go down and end up taking your photography backwards. Look for photographers who have the experience and track record of proven quality.
6. Don’t rely on post processing. One of the things I like to point out is not to rely on Photoshop or other post processing applications. Try to get the image right in the camera. There is a lot of natural colour in nature as it is. Make sure you get the histogram as accurate as possible so your exposure is correct. And try to get your composition right in the camera. Then there will be little to do in post-production and you will have more time to go out taking photos.
7. Use the light. Light is absolutely one of the most important things to consider. If there is no light, you have no photograph! Our eyes have built in ‘white balance’ so sometimes we don’t notice that the colour of the light is changing. However your film or digital sensor will record these differences quite dramatically. Uluru (Ayers Rock) doesn’t actually change colour, it’s the changing colour temperature of the light that makes it appear so radiantly red at sunset. Even subtle light variations can have a big impact on your photography. Different light conditions suit different subjects. For example, overcast light may not work for a summer beach shot, but it is great for rainforests, especially during or after light rain. Early morning and late afternoon is usually the best time to take photos, as the light has great warmth and softness.
8. Be Patient. Photography is like fishing. The most beneficial part is learning to relax while you wait and get into the rhythm of what is happening around you. The prize that keeps you going is that occasional big catch – a good photo. Patience is a discipline (shocking word), but when we learn to be still, blessings come our way. Once I was shooting in America in Grant Tetons National Park, and I waited all day for the light to be what I considered ‘just right’. Throughout the day, about five other professional-looking photographers came along. Each one pulled out his mega-expensive camera and tripod and set up his gear. They waited a couple of minutes, clicked off a few shots, then left. Meanwhile, I was still waiting, waiting, waiting and wondering if in fact I had missed something. But when the sun had set and everyone else was long gone, there was a magnificent afterglow and I was able to capture a stunning image, that didn’t need enhancing in Photoshop. You can see the photo I captured below. It is now a Limited Edition print called “Snake River, Grand Teton N.P., Wyoming”.