10 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography

1. Learn the fundamentals - It is really important to understand all the settings of your camera and have a solid understanding of the exposure triangle and white balance. Having a solid understanding of how to use ISO, aperture and shutter speed will not only create better technical photographs but increase your artistic creativity as well.

Kualoa Ranch_.jpg

2. Buy a great tripod and USE it! 

    I know no one is excited about another heavy piece of gear to carry but a tripod is one of the best investments you can make in your landscape photography. A tripod will help increase the sharpness of your images by keeping your camera steady. This is especially crucial when bracketing images or using slow shutter speeds. This is such an easy step to achieve in improving your landscape imagery.

This 30 second exposure in the Tetons could not be achieved without a tripod

This 30 second exposure in the Tetons could not be achieved without a tripod

3. Shoot In RAW 

    Landscape photography often means shooting in light with a high dynamic range. In order to capture and keep all the details in your image, you want all the information that a RAW file will capture. RAW files are much more forgiving when you make a mistake an underexpose your image. You can often rescue a underexposed image without damaging the image quality with a RAW file, but not with a JPEG. 

4. Learn Basic Post Processing

    Learn to process those RAW files so that you can bring out the scene you captured. Even the most basic RAW adjustments can go a long way to transforming the straight out of camera file you captured. Lightroom is excellent for cataloging and quick adjustments and is easy to use. Remember that often just some small adjustments are all you need to take an image to that next level. 

See BEFORE & AFTER below of the Three Sisters in Canmore, Alberta Canada.

5. Get out in the right light    

    There is a reason landscape photographers get up early and stay out late. The light at these times will create more compelling and dynamic images. Yes, it is possible to create incredible photographs in the daytime hours, but more often than not, those golden hours into night time will raise the interest in your landscape imagery. 

Sunrise in Oahu, Hawaii

Sunrise in Oahu, Hawaii

6. Experiment with perspective 

    You got the tripod, set it up, and stay there shooting away, right?! NO! Always vary your perspective. Get high, get low (even if that means taking the camera OFF the tripod), find some framing, look for leading lines and foreground interest. Perhaps there is a perspective that grabs you right away. Capture it. Then move around and find another one. 

In this image, I used the ice in the foreground to create depth, a unique perspective and a greater sense of season and story.

In this image, I used the ice in the foreground to create depth, a unique perspective and a greater sense of season and story.

7. Be creative with your shutter speed

    In landscape photography, creative use of a shutter speed is often what takes an image from pretty to WOW! When photographing water or clouds in particular, a creative shutter speed allows you to put your own artistic spin on a scene that makes it unique. Finding the ‘right’ shutter speed for your vision can be a process but a fun creative experience. 

.4 seconds of waves in Oahu, Hawaii

.4 seconds of waves in Oahu, Hawaii

8. Vary your focal length 

    Often with landscape photography we naturally think the widest angles are best. And often this is true, but not in every case. Sometimes the widest angle will make our subject appear too small in the scene and we need a middle focal length. Other times it is details that draw our eye which can only be captured by a telephoto lens. Many times I try to capture a scene with various focal lengths to create several unique images from the same location.  In the grid below the images are focal lengths as follows:

35mm. 70mm

130mm 200mm

9. Slow Down

Instead of quickly snapping the shutter, slow down and take in the scene in front of you. Consider the light. Thing about what is drawing you to the scene and why. Think about how you are feeling. Look for a unique perspective and take your time setting up the shot.

10. Capture what speaks to you! 

    In any scene you are capturing, there is something or some number of things that are drawing you to that scene. Perhaps it is the overwhelmingly wide expanse of the land,  the way the light is hitting the trees, the curve of a wave, or the formation of the clouds at the tip of a mountain. Hone in on the beauty that is speaking to you and use your tools to capture the scene in a way that highlights those details. Listen to your inner voice and follow it. Always shoot for yourself, to satisfy your own inner artistic voice.

Check back next week for more tips to improve your landscape photography!

A beautiful icy and snowy afternoon in the Midwest    Kristen Ryan is a landscape and fine art photographer residing in the Midwest suburbs of Chicago. All images can be purchased in the  Fine Art Store . Kristen leads ladies landscape photography retreats in the  Tetons ,  Chicago , and the  Canadian Rockies , offers  private mentoring  and teaches an  online landscape photography workshop  twice a year.

A beautiful icy and snowy afternoon in the Midwest

Kristen Ryan is a landscape and fine art photographer residing in the Midwest suburbs of Chicago. All images can be purchased in the Fine Art Store. Kristen leads ladies landscape photography retreats in the Tetons, Chicago, and the Canadian Rockies, offers private mentoring and teaches an online landscape photography workshop twice a year.