Beginner’s Guide to Landscape Photography

Landscape photography can create monumental shots. We live in a beautiful and varied world. In every corner of our planet, there is a stunning landscape waiting to be immortalized via a camera. We have 6 vast continents that are geographically diverse. From the desolate frozen wilderness of Antarctica to the rolling fields and mountains of central Europe, the photographic opportunities are endless.

To create magnificent landscape photos you must take a specific approach. You must choose the best camera for landscape photography and also have the right equipment. Moreover, to develop beautiful landscape shots you must have excellent technical knowledge. In this article, we provide an in-depth look at landscape photography, and also some renowned landscape photographers – enjoy!

Required Gear for Landscape Photography

As with any form of photography, gear and equipment is an important aspect of landscape photography. It is possible to use a standard DSLR camera and zoom lens. If you want the best results, however, the following gear should be given consideration:

Canon EOS 5DS and the Nikon D810

DSLR Camera

DSLR cameras can take higher quality landscape pictures than a standard point and shoot camera. This is a fact. Using a DSLR camera you can shoot in RAW mode – this gives greater flexibility when editing. Moreover, the best landscape cameras have a much higher resolution and produce landscape images that are crisp and sharp. Suitable cameras include any of the Canon, Nikon and Sony full-frame DSLR’s such as the Canon EOS 5DS and the Nikon D810.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm, and the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 lenses

Landscape photography lens

Aside from a high-quality DSLR, a suitable lens is also required. As mentioned above, a standard zoom lens could work fine. There are certain models however that are considered the best lenses for landscape photography. The focal length should ideally be less than 70mm – anything less than this will provide a wider angle and allow you to fit more landscape into your photo. Examples of the best landscape photography lens include the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm, and the Sigma 12-24mm f/4.

Tripod

A tripod provides stability. It allows you to take sharp landscape pictures that are perfectly focused. Moreover, a tripod can help you fight against turbulent weather conditions. If it is windy for example, you can use a tripod and keep your camera still. Finally, a tripod can also be used to take stunning long exposure landscape photos.

Filters

Filters are attached to your camera lens. They can alter the lighting and look of a shot. An ND filter is one of the most popular for landscape pictures. This is a neutral density filter – it helps balance light and dark areas of a photo. Alternatively, a polarizing filter can help make clouds appear bolder and also reduce glare and reflections. Consider purchasing these filters to help cope with a dark landscape or a bright sky for example.

Post-processing software

The work has not finished once you have taken your landscape pictures. If you snap your shots in RAW mode, it is advisable to process them afterward. Here is the list of best photo editing software with various programs to choose from.

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Technical Advice & Camera Settings for Landscape Pictures

Whilst equipment is important, the actual camera settings and technicalities are vital too. When taking landscape images, you must use certain photographic techniques. Moreover, you must understand the associated nuances too:

Always shoot in the RAW file format

We have touched upon this before but it is a necessity. It is a known fact that RAW photos produce the best end results. A RAW photo file contains all the original details captured by the camera sensor. You lose nothing. JPEG files, for example, are compressed and lose some of their quality.

“A” stands for Aperture Priority Mode

Use Aperture Priority mode

Aperture priority mode is easily the best mode to use for landscape photos. When using this mode, you select the aperture and exposure. Aperture relates to what is “in focus” in your photo. Usually, a lower aperture is required for this form of photo so that more is in focus. At f/11 for example, practically the whole landscape would be in focus. Whereas at f/4, only a certain part of the photo would be in focus.

Consider using bracketed shots for an HDR composition

If you don’t want to rely on filters or want greater flexibility, consider using HDR composites. An HDR shot is composed of several different exposures. Usually an over-exposed, under-exposed, and naturally exposed shot. Each photo captures a different detail of the landscape. You then use HDR photo editor to merge the photos together – the end result is a balance shot that captures all the detail.

Experiment with different times of day

Light plays an important role in landscape photography. During different periods of the day, the sunlight casts a landscape from a different perspective. For example, a landscape will look completely different at sunrise than at sunset. Experiment with different time periods. Use times such as the golden hour or twilight to create beautiful end products. You can also make pictures black and white for creative effects, like many famous landscape photographers listed below.

Famous Landscape Photographers

Your mind should now be bursting with landscape tricks and techniques. As a final piece of inspiration, we will look at some famous landscape photographers. These individuals have made landscape images their craft – they have brought to us some of the most stunning natural shots in existence:

Ansel Adams The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the National Park Service. (79-AAG-1)

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is widely regarded as the greatest landscape photographer of all time. If there is one person you should study, ensure it is Adams. His works depicted the stunning landscapes of the United States, particularly its national parks such as Yosemite. Adams also created the Zone System which helped photographers set the best tones in their photo for printing.

Michael Kenna. Emerging Light, Maepang Beach, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Michael Kenna

If you have not seen the works of Michael Kenna then you are missing out. This famous landscape photographer is well-known for his otherworldly shots that use long-exposure techniques. We are not just talking about long exposures that last for 30 seconds – he is known to take shots at night, with exposures of over 10 hours! His shots are usually black and white and show our world in a different light.

Nadav Kander. Diver, Salt Lake, Utah, USA, 1997, “God’s Country” collection

Nadav Kander

Nadav Kander is another photographer who showcases landscape from a different perspective. His award-winning book called “Dust” depicts the desolate wilderness of the Aral Sea. Moreover, he also photographed the eerie landscapes of restricted Cold War military areas in Priozersk and Kurchatov. His technique and consistency are magnificent and his Dust works, in particular, show our world in an almost apocalyptic nature.

Bernd e/and Hilla Becher. Terre Rouge, Esch-Alzette, 1979.

Bernd and Hilla Becher

Bernd and Hilla Becher were tasked by the German government with photographing the countries disappearing architecture. What they created was a stunning series of landscape photographs. Their photos include structures such as mining wheels, water towers and factories. Each structure is photographed within its natural landscape and the effect is mind-blowing. They also founded the Dusseldorf School of Photography and taught students their craft.

Sebastiao Salgado

Salgado actually takes inspiration from Ansel Adams but has created a plethora of staggering works that standalone as masterpieces in their own right. His most well-known work is the book entitled Genesis. This is a homage to our world and environment. It contains some absolutely captivating black and white photos from locations such as Antarctica and his home continent of South America.

We hope you have found this article enlightening. You should now have the confidence to go out, explore the world, and capture down to earth landscaping in a unique and creative way. Don’t forget that black and white landscape photography can be just as effective as color shots. Be imaginative, but most importantly just go out there and give it a try! Ensure that you take inspiration from the iconic landscape photographers we have shared too!

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