Landscape Photography for Beginners: A Complete Guide

PostingLandscape Photography for Beginners: A Complete Guidefirst appeared inSchool of Digital Photography. It was written byBarry J. Brady.

Landscape photography for beginners

Landscape photographyit is an incredible activity full of excitement, beauty, joy and much more. And in my opinion, landscape photography is not especially difficult – butdoesThey require dedication, passion, and a bit of know-how.

In this article, I offer my top tips for landscape photography beginners. I explain how to find the best subjects, how to choose the right equipment, and how to manage camera settings in the field; in fact, you can think of this as a miniintensive landscape photography coursecovering all the basics.

So if you’re new to landscape photography and want to know how to get started,orYou’re not sure if landscape photography is right for you, but you’re interested in exploring the genre, then keep reading!

1. Start by researching potential locations

Beautiful landscape photography usually starts with a beautiful subject. Depending on where you live, you may have to drive quite a distance to find some great scenery scenes, or you may be lucky enough to have some stunning views just a few miles away.

Regardless, I encourage you to spend some time researching each potential location before heading out. That way you can optimize your time in the field and rarely get stuck searching for a good composition as the light fades.

Beginner landscape photography

Before I visit a new location, I often do a little googling. I’ll do a search like “landscape scene + [my location]” and explore the Google Image results. Even if you just want to photograph nearby and think you know the area, it’s usually worth doing a quick search; sometimes, you will come across a beautiful scene that you didn’t know was in the area.

Anyway, use Google Image photos to compile a list of potential shooting spots. (If you can’t find much on Google, you can also check out500px,Instagram, or evenFlickr, all of which feature a wealth of great landscape photography!)

It is also important to consider your shooting requirements and preferences. Do you want to capture a sunrise? A sunset? A mountain? A reflecting pool? A forest? While it’s good to keep a list of all possible locations in an area – and it’s always handy to have backups in case a location doesn’t work – I would recommend prioritizing certain areas based on your interests.

Beginner landscape photography

Once you’ve identified several great locations, you may think you’re ready to go out and shoot, but I recommend opening an app likePhotoPillsorThe ephemeris of the photographer. Place a pin in your potential shooting location, then check sun positions, moon positions, and any other relevant information. Then time your photo shoot to coincide with the perfect conditions.

(¿What conditions are best for landscape photography? That’s what I discuss in my next landscape photography tip for beginners!)

2. Shoot in the right light

It’s technically possible to capture great landscape shots at any time of day, but most landscape photographers like dramatic colors and soft light. that’s why it’s generally best to shoot at sunrise and sunset.

Sunrise and sunset are known asgolden hoursbecause they offer such a beautiful and warm light. Unfortunately, the incredible light doesn’t last long, so it’s worth getting there at least half an hour (or more) before the light show starts; that way, you’ll have plenty of time toselect a compositionand set up your camera.

Beginner landscape photography

Once you are in the field, you must pay close attention to the direction of the light.Side light– coming from one side of the camera – is a great way to produce photos with three-dimensionality and lots of texture, thoughbacklightit can create dramatic results, especially if the sky features a glorious sunrise or sunset.

And speaking of glorious skies: if possible, try to shoot on days when the sky has enough cloud cover to produce bold colors, but not so much cloud cover that everything looks gray and drab.

One morelighting tip for landscape photography: While golden hours work great in most places, you can also capture beautiful shots duringblue hour– that is, the brief window just before sunrise and just after sunset, when the light becomes soft, ethereal, and (as the name suggests) cold. Due to limited light, blue hour photography is more technically demanding than golden hour photography, but as long as you use a tripod and take steps to prevent camera shake, you can create some beautiful photos.

3. Choose the right equipment for landscape photography for beginners

Landscape photography is a team-intensive genre. Sure, you can produce decent landscape shots using just a kit lens-equipped setup or even just a smartphone, but if you want stunning, printable images that show off plenty of detail and incredible tonal range, you’ll want to buy a few specific items of gear.

Of course, you can’t shoot landscapes without a camera, so I’d start there. You may already have a decent model, but if not I recommend buying some sort of interchangeable lens camera that offers a decent number of megapixels (20+ MP is pretty standard these days and should be sufficient for large prints). . There are a lot ofgreat mirrorless and DSLR models for landscape photography, and they will all do averysolid work

Beginner landscape photography

You’ll also want a decently wide lens with sufficiently sharp glass. A kit lens (ie the lens that comes with most beginner cameras) may work, but if you want tobest landscape optics,look for a wide-angle zoom or even a wide-angle one or two.

Next, you will need atripodAnd unless you’re really not sure if this whole landscape photography thing is for you, I encourage you to really invest in a sturdy product. Most landscape photography scenarios – like the golden hour and the blue hour – offer a minimum of light, forcing you to slow down yourshutter speed. And a slow shutter speed will produce a lot of blur – unless your camera has a rock solid support in the form of a tripod.

Tripods can be expensive, but it’s important to remember that a good tripod can make ahugedifference. Plus, a solid tripod will last a long time, so you won’t need to replace it anytime soon.

Fourth, you will need aremote release, which will allow you to trigger the camera’s shutterwithoutactually pressing the shutter button. (Why is this necessary? Pressing the shutter button will cause camera shake, resulting in blur, even if the camera is mounted on a tripod.)

When I was a beginning landscape photographer, it took me a while to buy a remote shutter release. Then once I had one, I wondered why it took me so long to get it! Remote throws don’t cost much, but they will help keep your photos sharp, which is essential.

Finally, some landscape photography filters are worth mentioning.Graduated neutral density filtersallows you to capture a bright sky and a dark foreground in a single frame – although these days, many landscape photographers rely onHDR exposure blendingto achieve the same result.

Then there arepolarizing filters, which will reduce reflections on wet rocks, lakes, waves, and foliage. They’re great if you plan on taking a lot of water and forest photos, but they’re not absolutely essential, so it’s up to you whether you want to invest. ANDneutral density filtersblocks light so you can increase your shutter speed for beautiful long exposure effects. While you won’t need one of these right away, they’re certainly worth keeping in mind for the future!

4. Choose the appropriate setting

Once you have the right equipment, know how to find good locations, and are familiar with the different types of light, you should understandlandscape photography key settings.

Unfortunately, there are no formulas for creating perfect shots – each new scenario must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis – but I can offer some useful guidelines.

Beginner landscape photography

First of all, you usually want everything in the scene to be in focus. I encourage you to change your camera toManual mode, then dial aaperture settingof at least f/8 (and potentially f/11 or even f/16 if the scene has a lot of depth). Then focus your lens about a third of the way into the landscape scene to approximate thehyperfocal distanceand maximize sharpness.

(It may help to initially use your camera’s autofocus, then change your lens tofocus manuallyonce you have set the focus correctly. That way, not 8217; you don’t need to worry about your camera refocusing while making adjustments to your settings.)

Once you’ve set up your opening, you’ll want to choose yourISO. Ultra-low ISO is basically always best; I recommend setting your ISO to 100 (or your camera’s lowest native setting) and keeping it there. That way, you can avoid unpleasant digital noise effects and preserve as much detail and dynamic range as possible.

Beginner landscape photography

Next, you will need to set the shutter speed. Since you will already have an aperture and an ISO dialed in, you simply need to choose a shutter speed that produces a good exposure. Depending on light levels, you may need to reduce your exposure to a couple of seconds (or more) to get a good shot, and that’s okay. In fact, long shutter speeds can produce beautiful long exposure effects; the water turns silky smooth, while clouds spread across the sky.

Keep in mind that if your shutter speed is too long for your tastes (for example, you want to capture moving trees or crashing waves in great detail), you can widen your aperture or increase your ISO, but do so sparingly – such adjustments come at a cost!

One last setup tip: make sure you set your camera to captureRAW files,notJPEG. RAW files are larger and require processing, but retain much more detail and are easier to edit, so it’s critical that you shoot RAW.

5. Review and process your landscape photos

Once you return from a session, download your images and view the results. You’ll want to buy some type of editing software (I recommend Adobe Lightroom Classic), and you should use it to organize your images. Put the successful photos in one folder, put the unsuccessful photos in another folder, and choose your absolute best photos from the “Successful” file to edit. (You might find you’ll take 100 images and only a couple are edit-worthy, and that’s okay!)

EditIt may seem difficult, but mostly it just involves a lot of experimentation. My best advice is to take your time and try each effect. Be sure to adjust your white balance to neutralize any problematic color casts, play around with different exposure and hue sliders to bring out lots of detail, and try boosting colors and contrast to add a bit of punch.

Beginner landscape photography

Note that if you come up with an editing effect you like, you can usually save it as a preset so you can use it over and over again (although the details will depend on your editing program).

And if you find it difficult at first to edit your landscape photos, don’t worry. You’ll quickly become familiar with the different effects, and before you know it, you’ll be adjusting the editing sliders like a pro.

Landscape Photography for Beginners: Final Words

I photographed herThe landscape is incredibly satisfying, and with the right approach, the rewards are often unrealistic. Of course, you have no control over the weather or the light, and the conditions won’t always work out – but when they do, you will feel euphoric!

At the end of the day, the most important tip is to take your time. Don’t rush the process and don’t pack until you’re sure you can’t get a better shot. Always go out and have fun. Even if the light isn’t right or the weather isn’t what you expected, you can use an outing as a practice session. Pretty soon, you’ll be capturing those stunning scenes with ease!

What kind of landscape photography do you plan to take? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

PostingLandscape Photography for Beginners: A Complete Guidefirst appeared inSchool of Digital Photography. It was written byBarry J. Brady.

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