** Guest post by Laurence Norah
Hi, I’m Laurence. I’m a full time professional photographer (and travel blogger!), and I’ve been travelling the world since 2009, taking pictures and sharing stories on my blog. I’ve also recently launched a photography course, to help anyone take better photos.
Today, I want to share with you some of my thoughts on Landscape photography, which is by far my favourite kind of photography. I love capturing the majesty of the landscapes in the world in a way that resonates with my followers and showcases the destinations I visit in the best possible light. In my mind, there’s no feeling quite like getting the perfect shot of a scene!
In this post I want to share with you some ideas for improving your own landscape photography, based on my years of experience in the field. Landscape photography is definitely a challenging type of photography to excel in, but one that’s worth taking the time to learn how to do right. Obviously I can’t cover absolutely everything in one post (that’s why I wrote a 33 lesson course!), but these tips should get you going in the right direction to start with.
Get Your Composition Right
Like any kind of photography, composition is key to getting the shot. Landscapes are a challenging subject because it can be difficult to convey the three dimensional wonder that your eye sees to the viewer, who is looking at your two dimensional image
To help, there are a few compositional tricks that you can use. First, think about setting your shot up around its foreground, mid-ground, and background. So for example, having a mountain ridge in the background, and maybe a tree, or a person, in the foreground. This will help to provide scale to your viewer, and make the image more three dimensional and structured.
Next, consider using leading lines to help your viewer navigate the image. Leading lines are anything that draw your viewer’s eye into the image – perhaps a road leading up a mountain, or train tracks receding into the distance.
Finally, don’t forget the most basic compositional rule – the rule of thirds. Consider your image as divisible into three parts – this can be horizontally or vertically – and compose it with key compositional elements in each third. So for example, you could have two thirds land, and one third sky, rather than splitting these elements 50/50.
Buy a Tripod
A tripod is without doubt the most important bit of kit you’re going to need as a landscape photographer. Well, after your camera.
A tripod lets you shoot with those low ISO’s and higher aperture settings, without worrying about your shutter speed being too low. It also forces you to think more carefully and critically about your composition, as you can’t just swing the camera up to your eye and shoot.
Experiment with time
Once you’ve gotten the hang of composition and putting a shot together, you might want to try and play around with some more advanced photography techniques, one of which is long exposure photography. If you want to do this in the daytime, you’re going to need to invest in a Neutral Density filter, which cuts the light coming into the camera, and lets you use longer shutter speeds, even in the middle of the day.
Shooting long exposures in the day lets you create some really cool effects. You can blur out water for example, creating soft, milky effects. White clouds rushing by in the sky become white trails of motion. It’s a lot of fun, and can really make your images stand out.
Shoot at the Right Time Of Day
It would be remiss of me to talk about landscape photography without bringing up the topic of choosing the right time of day to shoot. The best times to shoot are around sunset and sunrise – the time known as “golden” hour. At these times of day the light is optimal for getting the best shots, with the play of light and shadows bringing out the depth of the landscape, and casting a gorgeous warm yellow light over your subject matter.
Learn the Art of Patience
One of the most important skills in photography has nothing to do with photography techniques or equipment.
Patience, they say, is a virtue, and this is definitely true in photography. Sometimes, the light isn’t going to be quite right. And you’re going to have to wait until it is if you want to get the best shot. The effect of sunlight on a scene can be dramatic, and even if you just have to wait a few minutes for the clouds to clear, it will be worth it!
Spend time post-processing
First, ignore anyone who tells you that post-processing is cheating. Post-processing is an absolutely essential part of photography! All your camera is doing is recording data, and post-processing is the art of turning that data into a usable image.
I’d advise taking the time to learn one of the industry standard tools (I use and recommend Adobe Lightroom), and spending time on your images to make them look as good as you can.
Even basic fixes like cropping, sharpening, contrast adjustments and color tweaks can make the difference between an average shot and a great one.
Invest in your Skill
Finally, landscape photography, or any photography for that matter, is a skill that takes time and effort to master. I really believe that anyone can master the art of photography, and if you’re going to invest in equipment and travel, then investing in your skill-set as well seems like a logical part of your progression.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a photography course to help anyone become a better photographer. I wanted to create something that was accessible to anyone, and would take someone from the absolute basics of photography right through to making money from their work.
Broken down into 11 units comprising 33 lessons (over 100,000 words!) the course starts off by getting you entirely comfortable with your camera. You’ll learn how to be a master of your camera, with a detailed understanding of how it works and how to get the perfectly exposed shot every time. I also teach advanced topics, such as how to shoot the stars, what HDR is and how to do it, mobile photography, and long-exposure photography. All of this is laid out with examples, images, and walk-throughs to make it really easy for you to grasp.
Then, the course tackles the post-processing side of photography — what happens after you’ve taken your photo. You’re going to learn everything from how to set up an efficient workflow to editing and backing up your photos.
Finally, the course looks at how you can convert your hobby into a profession. From how much to charge to getting yourself found, we go through in detail everything you need to know to start making an income from your newfound skills.
All details can be found here: How to take better landscape photographs.
A bit more about Laurence:
Laurence is a full time professional travel photographer, who has been travelling the world since 2009, and taking as many pictures of beautiful places as possible. He runs two travel blogs: the photography and adventure focused Finding the Universe, and the couples travel focused Independent Travel Cats. He’s also the author of the Superstar Blogging Photography Course, which will help you improve your photography, no matter your level or experience.