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Landscape Photography Tips

Breathtaking vistas, beautiful sunsets and sunrises, the contrasting textures and colors of fields, whatever the place there is something special about capturing the beauty of creation through landscape photography.

These ten landscape photography tips are written as reminders of some of the key elements to capturing the beauty of nature so vividly that when we look at the photograph later we can recall that time or trip and enjoy again the majestic beauty found in nature.

1--Be patient. When it comes to landscape photography being patient is almost as important as it is with wildlife photography. Instead of waiting on the wildlife to come into view with landscape photography patience comes into play in waiting for the best lighting conditions. A subtle difference in lighting can make the ordinary photo better and the best lighting is needed to capture the really outstanding landscape photos.

2--Slow down and find the best angle. This landscape photography tip is especially important when traveling. Don't be content with snapping a few quick photos and then moving on. Slow down and take the time to examine the scene looking for the different angles and perspectives both in composition as well as lighting. If possible spend time walking around the area looking for different angles and other interesting objects that could improve your composition or make your photos stand out.

3--Visualize the light. As you photograph a vista think about how different lighting conditions might change the way the photo looks. If you are photographing a landscape that is close to home do so at different times of the day and different seasons. When traveling and you do not have the option of waiting for different lighting conditions, etc.make the most of any lighting conditions by adjusting your camera settings so you get the best light possible at that time.

Storm Clouds
Landscape Photography Tip; Visualize the Light

4--Vary the focal length. While we commonly associate landscape photos with wide angle lenses try using different focal lengths and different shooting angles to highlight an interesting feature or object in the scene. Zoom in on foreground objects to add dramatic impact.

5--Balance the composition. Good composition is important to any photo and the rules of composition such as the rule of thirds still apply to landscape photography. When composing your image look for those visual relationships that will make your photo standout. Keep an eye out for contrasting and similar textures, colors and elements. Using the rule of thirds place similar or contrasting elements at key intersection points. Try to visual the photo as it will look when cropped for printing. Above all remember that rules are made to be broken so do be afraid to do an unusual composition if it works for your photo.

6--Use filters when appropriate. Using a filter can help you get the perfect exposure as well as making your photos more dramatic. Common filters for landscape photography include the Neutral Density filter and the Polarizing filter. A neutral density filter helps balance the light levels between a dark foreground and a bright sky and can help prevent a sky from being blown out. Polarizing filters help eliminate reflections on water and help boost the contrast between the sky and clouds. Polarizing filters are most effective when the sun is at an angle to you. If you don't have filters you can duplicate many of the effects of a filter using photo editing software however using filters can help save processing time as you have less editing to do.

Landscape Photography Tip: Think Panoramic


7--Go Wide or Think Panoramic. Some scenes seem to demand a wider perspective than even the widest angle lens. For those scenes you should consider a panoramic photo. Creating panoramic images is easier than ever today. Some cameras today come with a special panoramic mode that allow you to sweep the camera from left to right as it captures the picture. This allows the cameras image processor to automatically stitch the frames together into a nice panoramic image. The other way to create amazing panoramic images from any camera is to take several overlapping photos and then use software to "stitch" the photos together into a panoramic image. There are dedicated software packages that specialize in doing this stitching process but it can also be done automatically in some of the later versions of Photoshop such as CS4.

8--Find a center of interest or focal point. Like many others this landscape photography tip deals with the composition of the photo. Try to frame the photo so it has a center of interest or focal point that draws the viewers eye into the picture. Landscape photos without a center of interest can end up looking empty and not be as visually appealing. Common focal points can be a building or an interesting tree, rock formation, etc. Use leading lines and other composition techniques to draw the viewers eye to that center of interest.

9--Use a tripod for the sharpest images. If you have a tripod use it when possible. With modern image stabilization systems it is easier to get sharp photos when hand holding the camera but why chance a great photo when using a tripod might help capture a sharper photo. Using a tripod is especially important when photographing in lower light settings such as overcast or cloudy days as well as around sunrise and sunset.

Big Springs 1
Landscape Photography Tip: Use Your Histogram


10--Use the histogram on your camera. The histogram is a great tool built into most cameras that allows you to check your exposure. Trying to determine proper exposure by looking at the LCD display is not always possible but the histogram will give you an accurate representation of the photos exposure. It is usually best to slightly underexpose a photo than over expose it, so watch your histogram for spikes on the right hand side. You have a better chance of recovering an underexposed shadow area than a blown out highlight.

Click here to watch a video on Creative Landscape Composition Tips