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The craft of Landscape Photography

What Is Landscape Photography ?

How many of us, didn’t point our camera at a landscape just because it was there and looked beautiful?

It’s a trap, even if the result is very often acceptable.

Why is it a trap?

Simply taking a landscape photograph for opportunism (I’m there by chance) is not enough in itself.

  • You need to be in harmony with your subject.
  • You must go and find it, understand it.
  • You have to blend in with it to better return it to the viewers with a part of you.

Profile of a Landscape Photographer

Generally mysterious, secret, the landscape photographer look always a little elsewhere,

He is often solitary, autonomous, and does not tire of putting his nose outside where nobody goes, at the hours when nobody is up, or when everyone is back home.

For unknown reasons, the craft is largely dominated by males, which seem, to constitute 80% of the population.

Required Qualities to be a good landscape Photographer

  • Extreme attention to the environment
  • Permanent search for magic in every visible plot of land
  • Patience
  • Willingness to always look a little further ahead
  • Find out what’s behind things
  • Forgetting physical fatigue
  • Like Walking & trekking
  • Love silence
  • Respect for all living and inanimate things.

And to the top of  it, bear in mind that you won’t get rich for decades wether you decide to make a living out of landscape photography

 

Enjoying contemplation is one of the most important qualities in landscape photography.

How to improve as a landscape Photographer ?

  • Read a lot: it is an effective progression factor. You assimilate at your own pace, benefit from the experience of others, and you can select the themes that interest you most. Leaf through all the technical books you can find, number of them have at least one merit.
  • Read all this website which is of course the best 😉 You will gain 10 years of learning in a few weeks. 
  • Watch Youtube Videos: they are often more specific than books: they give small tips from the trade and that are particularly useful.
  • Practice, Practice Practice ! Go out, shoot, try different framing, dare even random things, vary the settings, plan your shoots.
  • Learn from your errors : Don’t just erase a failed image without knowing why. Analyze your pictures. All these failed photos, not enough like this or too much like that, are in fact real little treasures. They will show you the path to follow.
  • Print your pictures : Any exposure error will be immediately visible. You will acquire a maximum of rigor and precision,
  • Be patient : you can make huge progress in one year. It may seem long, but it’s nothing compared to learning music or sports.
  • Train your photographer’s eye : Whatever your personal predispositions, you must be aware that the gaze is exercised, worked on and conditioned. Try to always frame with your eyes. Yes, looking can be learned, and particularly in the photographic field.
  • Learn from Masters : don’t spend your time on social networks aimlessly. Contemplate the photos of the greatest photographers and analyze them. You will sharpen your critical sense and define your own tastes and style. But not only social medias : Great painters, museums, 
  • Submit your work to other people’s eyes: facebook groups, forums, social medias, but above all to quality people. Don’t look for compliments from people who are won over to your cause, it won’t help you.
  • Participate to photography workshops : Again, you will gain 10 years of learning in a few weeks, while sharing your passion with other fellow photographers. 

See also : How to Learn Photography ?

What are the ingredients to a Good Landscape Picture ?

A Good Planning

The right composition

But all this will be useless if once you get there, you just take a quick shot and leave.

By definition, most of the time there is no particular event happening in a landscape photo.

If you manage to capture one, so much the better, but most of the time the human presence is absent or not interesting,

You will have to play everything on the composition.

Choose your focal length carefully
Frame and Aspect Ratio
Think about the leading lines

The diagonal lines will guide the gaze where you want it, which is very important. Analyze them taking into account the brightest point in the image, where the eye will tend to look: if these lines lead to that bright point, the viewer will really enter the image, and you win!

A Good Technique

A Good Processing

Common Errors in Landscape Photography

  • Exposure: Overall  too dark, too light? Clipped shadows, blown highlights ?
  • Composition: main subject too centered, too small? No leading lines ? 
  • Perspective: image too flat? Lack of foreground ? No sense of scale?
  • Post Processing : light too hard? Too much saturation ? White sky ?
  • Sharpness: Blurry picture ? Depth of field too shallow ? Bad focus point ? Too much grain?
  • Emotion: nothing gets through? It was much stronger in real life? 

Do you recognize, by reading this list, the disappointments you feel when looking at your photos?

It’s quite normal, we’ve all been there.

The main thing is already to know how to identify your mistakes and to use them to progress.

Styles Of Landscape Photography

Traditionnal

Minimalist Landscape Photography

Minimalist Landscape Photography

Not all landscapes are going to be huge, impressive expanses of forms and flows. 

You’ll definitely come across areas that will be more minimal in their design. Capturing these situations can make some very impressive and interesting images.

This is also an area of landscape photography that you can create yourself.

Simply changing your perspective can be enough to capture the scene in a ‘less is more’ manner.

Impressionism

Abstract

Black and White Landscape Photography

Black and White Landscape Photography

Black and white never goes out of style.

The absence of color in a photograph has a special charm in all photographic genres, so in landscape photography it was not going to be less.

High Key Landscapes

Moody Landscapes

Defining Your Style

How Our Eyes See 

How The Camera Sees Differently From Our Eyes

Always remember that the 2 primary ways in which the eye sees different than the camera are dynamic range and motion

Understanding how the camera sees your subject is critical to being able to impress your own personal vision on the composition and flow of an image is essential to increasing the number of photo options to choose from and always reaching you maximum potential for every image.

Motion

Motion (video, walking, etc) allows us to interpret special relationships between objects in ways a fixed position cannot, making high detail landscape like a rainforest more difficult for still frames and low detail landscapes like a desert playa or dunes much easier.

Motion is one of the critical elements.

In Forest, we can see a lot of layers of details. We can feel the subjects moving, it is an immersive experience.

But when we photograph a forest, it is one of the most difficult thing to be able to make an image from a single point that embodies that experience.

Why is that ?

It’s Motion

If we record, we can feel all these details. But in fix images, it is very hard to express this relationships between elements.

When we have a simplistic scene, it is easier.

The arctic is easier to photograph than a rainforest.

The more detail we have to work with in a landscape photograph, the more difficult it is.

Landscapes are field with details.

doing a landscape Photograph is like putting together with a 1000 piece puzzle, instead of a puzzle that has 100 hundred pieces.

Not only do we need to compose with a great range of lightings, colors, textures, subjects

This is about isolation, removing distractions isolation subject above everything else.

Landscapes are these multidimensional puzzles with the more details, the more areas of interest, the more complicated it can be.

How many different kinds of subjects can you include and still a cohesive image that flows fluidly from near to far and from far to near and gives the viewer a 3 dimensional sense of depth.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range (visible light) cameras capture is HALF of what the eye can see when liking at your raw file, and also HALF of what can be extracted from that properly exposed file.

In other words, control the highlights first into strong light. More than 95% of all images can be recorded perfectly in a single RAW without blending when highlight are controlled perfectly (IE pushed as bright as the can be without being blown out.

Other major way in what the camera sees different than our eye do is dynamic range.

By dynamic range he means the amount of light that the camera can capture.

This is one of the great improvement from film, is the ability to make an image from a scene that does not look good in camera , you know a scene where there is a huge amount of light and the the camera can’t expose properly for highlights and shadows at the same time.

Therefore we have to accept that we will have to post process to bring back the details

How to we create Visual Flow ?

How do we take these 1000 pieces of puzzle and make that 1000 pieces of puzzle to flow together in one cohesive direction.

How do we get the camera to see like our eyes, 3 dimensionally and immersive experience who invites the viewer into and through our photos.

We have all heard somebody say I can step right into that painting, I feel like I was there, I wanna just walk into your photograph.

These are the greatest compliments that we can receive.

And what does it mean is that your images feel 3 dimensional. If we can make our images more 3 dimensional is the best thing we can do to immerse our subject into the image.

Thinking About Light And Shadow

Types Of Landscape Photography

Coastal Cliff Tops

Shoreline

Hills And Mountains

Sunrises & Sunsets

People & Animals

Buildings in the Landscapes

Trees & Forests

Rivers, Streams And Waterfalls

Lakes And Reflections

The Miniature Landscape

Details

Night Landscapes

Night landscape photography is one of the least explored types of photography by the amateur photographer generally, largely because of the apparent complexity involved.

The truth is that such complexity does not exist.

In fact, it is the “snake that bites its own tail” effect.

The less you practice night photography, the more difficult it becomes.

So, if you like night scenery, you should consider getting your camera and start planning night trips for night scenery photography.

If the first few times you get pictures that can be improved, it is important not to throw in the towel.

You don’t expect to embroider the first time, do you?

But don’t worry, we’ll go out a second night, and a third, and with each outing you’ll see that your night landscapes are improving.

Best Equipment for Landscape Photography

What equipment should I use ?

There are many things that can help you achieve that brilliant landscape shot. 

Camera, wide-angle lenses, tripods, polarising filters, and other accessories are particularly important.

Camera

Unlike other photographic genres such as sports or animal photography, for which a camera with advanced features is appreciated, landscape photos are not very demanding in that sense.

Any photo camera (with manual controls, however) will allow you to obtain very good results.

At the level of photographic equipment, the camera is where you will have less problems, the lens you attach to that camera is the most important. 

Best Cameras for Landscape Photography


Lenses

What is the best lens for landscape photography ?

Well, think that in this type of photos what we want to capture is the grandiosity of the environment, and that everything comes out especially clear, so this leads us to a wide-angle lens.

With this type of lens we will enjoy a great depth of field and a wider angle of vision.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t use telephotolenses and get good results too.

lenses can cost between  $200 to $2000 

Obviously, the higher the cost, the better the lens.

 Important things to consider before buying a landscape lens are :

  • Wide-angle of vision
  • Wide Aperture (for night photography)
  • great level of sharpness at narrow apertures
  • chromatic aberrations
  • Lens Flare

Here are some the best lenses entry level for landscape photography:

  • Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5
  • Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5
  • Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 G
  • AF token 12-24mm f/4
  • Sigma 12-24mm f/4
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS II USM
  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G

Best Lenses for Landscape Photography


Tripod and Ball heads

One of the most important accessories in landscape photography is undoubtedly the tripod.

If you are attracted by the beautiful and famous silk effect, if you like to capture the movement of the clouds in a sunset, or if you simply want to achieve greater clarity in your landscapes, this is your accessory.

The ball head is where the camera will be adjusted next to the tripod, it allows to have more stability and it will also facilitate the mobility of the camera next to the tripod.

Best Tripods for Landscape Photography


Filters

As you advance in landscape photography you will realize that in certain situations you have to find a way to achieve a balanced exposure in the whole shot, or that you don’t know how to avoid the reflections of the water in a river in order to see what is in the background.

Nor do you know how to achieve the silk effect we were talking about a moment ago, in broad daylight.

As a solution to all these questions, I will tell you that you need a filter.

Not for all situations you will need the same filters : there are polarizers, neutral filters, graduated filters…

Depending on the purpose of your photo you will have to choose one or the other. 

Best Filters for Landscape Photography


Batteries and Extra Cards

Imagine that you carry all your equipment on your back and that you drive and walk many kilometers until you reach your dream landscape.

You mount the tripod, place the camera, connect the shutter, and at the moment of capture…

BANG! You don’t have enough battery power left or you run out of space on the memory card.

How can you avoid this? The easiest way is to always carry at least one battery and an extra card with you.

Also, keep in mind that technology can sometimes go wrong, and carrying a spare for these small accessories can save us the occasional disappointment.

Best Memory Cards for Photography


Best Batteries for Photography : Tips & Tricks


Remote trigger or bulb mode

When we press the shutter button on our camera we can cause some trepidation that will negatively affect the sharpness of our images.

The best combination to solve this is to use a tripod and a remote shutter release.

But if you don’t have one, don’t worry because you can always use your camera’s self-timer.

Comfortable Photo Backpack

Last but not least, you will need a good backpack to carry all your equipment in.

The choice of this accessory is important.

It has to be comfortable, your back will thank you ! 

Check if you can attach your tripod keeping an adequate weight distribution to avoid possible back pain.

The size must adapt to your material needs.

The purpose is that you can transport your equipment safely and comfortably. 

Best Backpacks for Landscape Photography


Other Important Accessories

  • Head Torch
  • Boots
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Rain Protection: Cape
  • Peak Design Clips
  • Photopills application
  • Buckles To better attach your bag
  • Garbage bag (rain)

Best Accessories for Landscape Photography


What’s In My Bag

Camera Care

Light In Landscape Photography

What is Light?

The Qualities of Light

Color Temperature

Time of Day

It is not the same to take a landscape photograph at dawn, than in full sunlight or at night.

The light conditions change, and that will affect the way we have to proceed to make the capture.

That’s why below we link several articles with specific tips depending on the time of day we take the shot.

Weather & Light

Learning To See The Light For Better Landscape Photos

Quality Of Lights

Directional Light

Color Temperature

Light And Exposure

Seasons

Shooting in Spring

Shooting in Summer

Shooting Fall

Shooting in Winter

Magical Lights

Rainbows

Rainbow Position Chart
Rainbows and Polarizers

Light Rays
Aurores Boréales
Fog
Eclipse

Shooting In Poor Light

White Clouds and White Haze

Low-Light Photography

Silhouettes

Spot Lighting

Play with Light

Overexposure
The under-exposure

Composition In Landscape Photography

Composition is an essential element in landscape photography.

In order to capture incredible landscapes, it is important to look at some composition rules and try to be guided by them as much as possible.

Structuring Your Image To Communicate About A Landscape

The more detail we have to work with in a landscape photograph, the more difficult it is.

Landscapes are field with details.

Doing a landscape Photograph is like putting together with a 1000 piece puzzle, instead of a puzzle that has 100 hundred pieces.

Not only do we need to compose with a great range of lightings, colors, textures, subjects

Composition in Landscape photography is about isolation, removing distractions isolation subject above everything else.

Landscapes are these multidimensional puzzles with the more details, the more areas of interest, the more complicated it can be.

When composing you have to ask yourself : how many different kinds of subjects can I include and still a cohesive image that flows fluidly from near to far and from far to near and gives the viewer a 3 dimensional sense of depth.

Basic Structure in Near Far Composition

Types of basic compositional structure include framing, layers and leading lines.

Within each structure there must be transitions to create visual flow and depth.

Transitions should ideally be continuous always lead to the focal point or the distance, or both.

Examples of transitions include big to small (leading lines), high contrast to low contrast (think soft glow in backgrounds of paintings), cool to warm, dark to light ,out of focus to in focus, etc…

Every composition he realize in landscape photography involves a way to invite the viewer in and show what is near and what is far.

There may be some exceptions.

As a rule of thumbs and landscape photograph needs to create some directional flows.

This includes :

  • Framing elements
  • Dark shapes on the side and clear things in the middle
  • Big things in the middle and small thing on the sides,
  • Layers,
  • etc…

Leading lines are big to small transitions

In order to create visual flow we need to have transitions fluid and broken from the near to the far or from what was not his focal point to his focal point.
—> It must go in one fluid cohesive direction. This is how we create motion and 3 dimensionality

A leading line is a big to small transition. That is what makes it a leading line. It if doesn’t have a transition it is just a line.

If it is just a line, it doesn’t help in composition…

Transition could be big to small like flowers leading to a mountain

In the image the focal point is the Light. The Light is what attract the eye more than any other element in the image.

The flowers go from big to small. they also go from dark to light

The camera see twice as much contrast as the eyes does.

The camera doesn’t see things like glow, mist, haze, diffusion nearly as well as our eye would

In this picture many people would say that the mountain is the focal point, so they would make more contrasty, more clear, saturated, but these are all these type of things that reduce the sensation that the mountain is far away and that flower are close. So if we don’t have this « this is close / this is far away » transition, through the use of black transition , then we don’t have good separation, we don’t have good visual flow, we don’t have 3 dimensionality. In this image, of we didn’t have this transition of blacks, the eye wouldn’t know where to go.But the transition give the sensation that this is far away this is middle this close There is ALWAYS Transition in an image. It doesn’t matter if it is an abstract, a huge landscape, a wide angle, even wildlife There is perhaps no times in landscape photography that principles of transition are illustrated better than when we are in a forest.  When we are in a forest we face with the most complicated type of landscape, the with the most different details, subjetcs, textures that we have to put together in a cohesive way. One of the very first thing that I like to do in my forest images is to add a focal point, a sunstar maybe. light coming in… Light is a great focal point.  The light will be the focal point itself where the eye wants to go So one of the thing that I do when I compose is that I tell people to find the darkest place in the forest he can be at and shoot from there. Instantly, the fact to have that darker periphery in your shot, moving toward the light in the background you will have much greater 3 dimensionnality than if there had this light in the foreground and the dark in the background.  Why ?  Because the background is the area where there is much more detail and you need more diffusion, and you need more similarities. The foreground is already simplified, there only big subjects that can fit in. He edit this image the same, with the heavier black in the periphery, and lightest black in the background  

Connecting With A Landscape

Finding Depth In A Location

Understanding What’s Important

Working The Landscape

Going Beyond The Common Landscape

Finding Out About Locations

Assignments

Composition Toolbox

Balance & Visual Weight

Visual Balance

Placing The Main Subject

Scale

The Rule Of Thirds

The Golden Ratio

Alternative Methods For Organizing The Frame

Symmetry

Silhouettes

Color Theory

The Rule Of Odds

Camera Orientation

Depth And Perspective

Linear Perspective

The Vanishing Point

Foreground Interest

Tilt And Shift

Light In Defining Depth

Visual Separation

Other Tips And Tricks

 

The Geometry Of Composition

Lines

Corners And ‘Pointers’

Shapes

Layers And Planes

Movement And Flow

Motion

Perspective, Space, And Depth Of Field

Gaining Control By Changing Lenses, Positions, And Apertures

How to scout compositions with a wide angle lens
How to scout compositions with a zoom lens

Perspective

Depth Of Field

Assignments

Vertical or Horizontal?

The Psychology of the Compelling Landscape

Landscape Photography and Evolution

On Culture and Creativity

How to use Lenses and Filters in landscape photography ?

What Lenses Do

Focal Lenghts

Depth of Field

Focusing a Lens

Using Filters

UV & Skylight Filters

ND Filters

Extreme ND Filters

Graduated ND Filters

Polarizing Filters

Exposure in Landscape Photography

First Principles

Exposure Meters

Exposure Modes

Aperture

Shutter Speed

ISO

Exposure Values

Dynamic Range

Histograms

Exposing to the Right

Dealing with Contrast

Best settings for Landscape Photography

Fulll Manual Mode ?

Extra Popular Techniques

File FORMATs : RAW VS JPG

Shooting Modes

Picture Controls

How Light Meters Work

The Four Basic Exposure Strategies

Autoexposure and Exposure Compensation Proper Exposure and Histograms

Exposure Danger Zones

FOCUSING

Hyperfocal Distance

Back Button Focus

Setting Up Your Camera Tripods and Heads Filters

8 Questions to ask before shooting

Advanced Techniques for Landscape Photography

HDR

Focus Stacking

Day Long Exposure

Panorama

Vertical Panorama

Time Stacking

Landscape Photography Through the Seasons

Shooting during spring

shooting during Summer

Shooting during Fall

Shooting during Winter

Planning & Scouting

Choose your Approach

According to your mentality and temperament, two main photographic approaches of the landscape are offered to you.

The first, the most academic and certainly the most widespread among professionals, is what we will call the imagined photo.

It is about building the ideal image in your head, even on a storyboard, and everything planned to optimize the expected result.

This process consists of documenting as much as possible about what you will find in the field, getting advice from people who know the place, locating your itineraries on a map, finding the sites, the most interesting angles, without photographing them, determining the best season, the best weather conditions, the best shooting time, and enfin returning to the place at the right time and in the right conditions to take the picture of your dreams.

Here, nothing, or very little, is left to chance: the landscape is a kind of movie set that the director (the photographer) selects to best serve his creative project.

This scenarization allows you to create exceptional images because they have time to mature in your mind and benefit with all your energy.

On the other hand, it requires time and implies that you know exactly what you want.

This kind of image can very well be thought out in advance. You just have to locate the places, go there with good weather conditions and wait for the sunset.

The second approach is based on live action.

It is a kind of “live” version, where everything is based on the magic of the moment.

We’ll call it the revealed picture.

In this case, the photographer is like a kind of antenna listening to everything that is happening around him.

The essential is no longer in anticipation, but in discovery.

The open-mindedness, the look that is everywhere, the symbiosis with the environment, the pleasure of being there, the present, are more important than the project final.

Your tripod on your shoulder, you move forward with a quiet step, you are attentive to every ray of light, every scene that offers itself to you; you are ready at profiter for the slightest opportunity.

The photographs are not the fruit of your will, but are offered to you by nature or the city, offered by chance.

This implies a great confidence in you and an optimistic temperament.

You should not be afraid to come home empty-handed or to waste your time.

Here, nothing is certain, nothing is planned in advance.

The moment experienced takes precedence over the guarantee of the result.

At final, this random and intuitive method can give as good results as the first one.

It allows you to confront all types of conditions and will exercise efficacement your eye.

But, no productivity is guaranteed…Between imagined and revealed photo, many compromises exist: in practice, it is common to mix the two approaches.

Nevertheless, you will notice that both do not lead to the same type of photographs, nor to the same conceptions of the landscape.

Finding an Original Location or Shooting Hotspots?

But beware! They can be crowded!

Knowing and Predicting the Weather

When to Shoot

Using GOOGLE EARTH to Help Visualize Photographs

Where to find inspiration for

Landscape Photography

500px

Flickr

Google Images

Challenges To Overcome In Landscape Photography

Mistakes And How To Avoid Them / Common Obstacle To A Good Landscape Photograph

Sky

Working To Bring Out The Best In The Sky

Using Sky Effectively In A Composition

Tackling Exposure Challenges Found In The Sky

Assignments

High ISO

Lens Flare

CondeNsation

 

Post Processing In Landscape Photography

Postproduction Fundamentals

Basic Image Corrections

Black & White

Output

Preparing to Print

Seeing How Ansel Adams’s Ideas Still Resonate In The Digital Age

Software

Cropping

Creative Sharpening

Local Enhancements

Focus Stacking

Panoramic Stitching

Exposure Blending

Converting To Black And White

Assignments

Secrets to winning Landscape Photography

Exposure Blending

Luminosity Masks & Micro Contrasts

Vignetting

Selective Color correction (+ Blue)

Orton Effects

What is the limit to Post processing ?

Sharing & Social Media for Landscape Photographer

Making Money in Landscape Photography

Selling your work

Teaching

Writing

Commissioned Jobs

Create a Brand

Passion

How Much Money Does A Landscape Photographer Make?

Ressources 

Best Softwares for Editing Landscape Pictures

Best Apps For Landscape Photography

Photopills

Snapseed

Maps.me

Best Video Tutorials To Edit Landscape Photography

Https://Www.Creativelive.Com/Class/Art-Nature-Photography-Art-Wolfe
Https://Www.Creativelive.Com/Class/Nature-And-Landscape-Photography-John-Greengo
Https://Www.Creativelive.Com/Class/Fine-Art-Landscape-Photography-Peter-Eastway-Tony-Hewitt
https://www.creativelive.com/class/fine-art-landscape-photography-peter-eastway-tony-hewitt
https://www.creativelive.com/class/photography-as-art-art-wolfe

 

Best Books To Learn Landscape Photography

Conclusion

I hope that you enjoyed this landscape photography guide

Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:

Do you have any questions about landscape photography ?

Or maybe I didn’t mention one of your favorite tips ?

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGvhWeSiXeAhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Byie7gvTfSYhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gOZmd5yKS4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQU4_CzvHLQ
Best Backpacks for Landscape Photography


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