Landscape Photography for Beginners

ifolor Photo Hacks

Majestic mountains, deep blue seas, and forests out of a fairy tale - these spectacular views provided by nature fascinate the beholder and many try to capture this on camera. Many external factors have to be kept in mind here such as the weather and overall lighting conditions. Here we’ll give you tips and ideas for taking brilliant landscape photos.

The Blue Hour

In the world of photography, timing is important; in landscape photography, it’s the time of day that’s important. Photographing during the blue hour, the time of day in the early morning shortly before sunrise or in the evening shortly before sunset, will provide you with special, almost magical deep blue lighting conditions.

The Golden Hour

During the golden hour, i.e. the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, the deep-lying sun gives off warm shimmering light that produces long shadows which loan a bit of structure and depth to landscape photos. This beautiful golden light makes landscape photos appear especially magical.

Smaller Aperture - Stronger Starbursts

Star-shaped lights, also known as starbursts, can be used to optically enhance your landscape photos. These star effects result from diffraction that comes about when light hits the circular aperture in your camera. How strong this diffraction is depends on how large the aperture is. The smaller the aperture’s opening is, the greater proportion of light hits the edge of the aperture and is affected. Thus, the starburst effect becomes more pronounced when using a small aperture setting.

Change Perspectives

Choosing the right perspective heavily influences the overall effect of your landscape photos. This can make things like grass or roots a scenic motif when shot near the camera from a worm’s-eye view. Sweeping fields or the labyrinthine path of a river, on the other hand, are ideally shot from a bird’s-eye view.

Utilise Reflective Surfaces

You can create a picturesque motif by photographing landscapes such as mountains or forests off of a glass-like reflective water surface. Using a half-turned polarising filter will reduce the amount of reflection in a portion of the photo to produce a fascinating effect. This will make things under the water’s surface appear clearer in the image.

Look for a Foreground - For More Depth in Your Photo

In order to take brilliant landscape shots it’s recommended to always select both a fore- and background for your image composition. This will give your photo the necessary amount of depth. It’s not necessary for the foreground to be located near the camera as long as the foreground is distinct from the portions of the image further away.

Photograph Waves

Waves lend a certain dynamic to landscape photos and will ensure your pictures are more diverse. You can make your wave photos especially mellow by using an exposure time several seconds long to blur the movement of the water.

It’s All in the Details - Play Around with the Depth of Field

In landscape photography, a high depth of field is often used (i.e. a closed aperture) in order to make the fore- and background appear as sharp as possible. In nature, however, there are often striking motifs that can best be accentuated by shooting them with a blurry background (i.e. a low depth of field).

Take Your Time and Look for the Right Position

In order to take brilliant landscape shots, it’s often required to wait for the right moment since many scenic photos are only impressive when they’re shot in the right lighting conditions, such as right when the sun is rising. Many motifs also only work when they’re shot from an elevated position, such as from a hill or the roof of a car.

Take Control with Manual Camera Settings

When shooting in manual mode, it’s necessary to set the exposure time, ISO value, and the aperture yourself. This requires a bit of practice, but also offers you the chance to be more creative while photographing. Just play around a bit to find the optimal settings for a given scene.

Optionally Use a Tripod

A tripod ensures the exact alignment and stable position of your camera. Using a tripod or stand will also help avoid blurred shots. A tripod is fairly indispensable when using a long exposure time. This is especially the case when photographing during sunrise or sunset. A high depth of field will also require a longer exposure time.

Use a Wide Angle

Using a wide-angle lens will help you capture as much of the surrounding landscape as possible. Wide-angle lenses are characterized by their low focal lengths. When using really low focal lengths, however, you run the risk that things on the edge of the picture will appear distorted. The ideal focal length for landscape photos shot with a wide-angle lens is between 10 and 35 mm.

Experiment with Light and Shadow

Certain landscapes, such as forests, can be beautifully depicted with the right combination of light and shadow. You can also use the backlighting to create stylish photographs rich in contrast.

Use the Smallest ISO Value Possible

The same rule applies when taking landscape photos: the larger the ISO value, the more sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. By increasing the ISO value, the incident light is electronically amplified, which results in more image noise and a loss of image detail.

Select the Best Image Section

Depending on the image section chosen, a landscape photo can appear either captivating or just flat out boring. Focusing on a main motif will make the photo more expressive and will steer focus to a certain area. Ideally, the main motif should be a bit off-centre in the photograph, either a bit to the left or right. You can also make your landscape photographs more interesting by placing the horizon somewhere else besides directly in the middle of the picture.

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