Photography Tips: Getting Started Photographing Landscapes

Landscape photography is an enthralling experience for any budding photographer. I couldn't wait to get out there and try to become the next Ansel Adams. There's a ton of lovely scenes and natural landscapes all around us waiting to be captured in a vivid, alluring picture. It takes skill, knowledge and practice to master the art of shooting landscapes. I quickly discovered that Ansel knew more in his pinky than I did in my whole body. Never fear! Here are several helpful tips to help you start to create impressive landscape photos.

1. Bring the right equipment.

The primary equipment that you need to shoot landscapes include wide-angle lenses, a tripod, and a spare battery. Having a wide angle is essential in landscape photography so wide-angle lenses are great to use. Telephoto lenses are also handy, particularly if you need to shoot from a far distance. On my recent New Zealand trip I primarily used my 14-24mm and 28-300mm lenses. Certain times required me to zoom in tight to a mountain peak or a jumping dolphin.

Remember to use filters sparingly since too much polarization can result in odd shots that appear unnatural. Plus I don't like carrying that extra gear up the side of a mountain.

2. Find the best light.

To take photos with impact, you have to pick the best light setting. Shooting in the middle of the day is not advisable as the light is typically harsh and unappealing. But you can get lucky if the clouds are big and puffy like a Monet painting.

The best hours to shoot landscapes occur during sunrise and sunset. At these moments, the sun has a low angle hence creating long shadows that make interesting textures and details. This low warm lighting gives the subject better scale and depth. Make sure to stay AFTER sunset for a little while because you'll find some beautiful reds that might just show up.

3. Know the weather.

The weather condition on the day of your shoot will greatly affect the type of impression that you seek to create with your audience so always check weather forecasts before heading out. Clear, blue skies with various cloud shapes can add interest to your photos. Bad weather can also be worked to your advantage. Storms with dark, somber skies and ominous clouds can make for an engaging, eye-catching image. With a tinge of creativity, you can capture just the right scenic view that you're looking for.

4. Decide which element to favor.

The viewer's eye has to rest on something in the photo. You can add a strong point of interest like a tree, a mountain, a cloud in the sky or simply a bunch of colorful flowers. You can include an attractive object in the foreground like a fence or a branch. It will improve the depth of your image. You can also position the point of interest off the center for a more interesting composition, use lines and shapes to lead the viewer's eye, or include people for an awe-inspiring picture.

Try to tell a story in the landscape. With an interesting road or fence post you can craft the composition to relay a story. The best photos tell a story and a boring mountain is just a boring mountain.

Don't be easily discouraged when the images don't turn into something as wonderful as you imagined. Patience is the key. Some of my early landscapes are just awful. Keep in mind that practice makes perfect so just keep on shooting landscapes that pique your interest, continue to experiment and, of course, learn from your mistakes. Above all, enjoy your hobby and you'll see great results in time.