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Tips & Tricks

5 Beginning Landscape Photography Tips For Instant Improvement

By Paul Faecks on June 10th 2014

A lot of photographers start by taking photos of landscape, just because it’s beautiful and always there. A landscape won’t run away from you, an animal will. Landscapes aren’t as intimidating as people. Landscape photography is how I started, and for anyone looking to improve their landscape images, here are a few things I’ve learned that helped me improve in my landscape photography.

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Tip #1- Shoot in RAW and Manual

As I pointed out in the introduction, a landscape doesn’t run away from you so there’s absolutely no need to let the camera decide your exposure. I like to activate live view and tweak the exposure until I see a properly exposed image on the back of the camera. (Note: it’s not only important that your image is exposed well, it is even more important how your exposure is being composed. Shutter speed, ISO and aperture doesn’t only affect how bright an image is, they affect the amount of noise, the depth of field and the motion blur, too. If you want to learn more about that, we have great basics tutorials covering exposure here and here).

Also, you should be shooting in RAW because your camera will save a lot more information that you can use in post processing to get a larger dynamic range or restore information specifically from shadows and highlights. In landscape photography, you want to try to capture the highest amount of data.

HDR can look absolutely stunning when done right. If you want to learn how to extend your dynamic range while still maintaining a natural look and feel you can check out SLR Lounge’s 13-hour HDR Workshop DVD that will teach you everything you need to know.

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Tip #2 Slow Down

It’s perfectly fine to shoot a lot of images, but don’t just “spray and pray!” Take your time, think about composition, exposure and visualize what you want your final image to look like. Also, if you shoot a lot of frames, then shoot a lot of frames from different angles or objects. Don’t just take the same photo a dozen times.

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Tip #3 Show a Non-Photographer Friend Your Best Images

This is actually a tip that applies to every kind of photography: print some of your best photos and show them to a good (honest) friend. Because you are obviously pretty close to your pictures, (you took them), you can’t judge them as good as someone else could. Also you could make the mistake of focusing too much on the technical aspects of your image. Your friend who does’t know anything about the technical stuff probably won’t make that mistake.

[REWIND: LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHERS: PROTECT DELICATE LOCATIONS!]

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Tip #4 Know Your Gear

Know your gear. And I don’t mean own the best gear. I just mean learn what your equipment is capable of doing and what it isn’t. Figure out the limitations of your gear and try to find workarounds for avoiding them.

Here’s my list of gear:

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Tip #5 Include an Interesting Foreground

Many beginners make the mistake of just taking a landscape image without a foreground. Implementing one will give your photo more depth and make it more interesting. You should avoid scattered, busy backgrounds because they will distract your whole image.

Do you have other landscape tips for beginners to add? Feel free to leave you thoughts in the comments below.

All photographs by Paul Faecks are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

About

Paul Faecks is a portrait- and fine art photographer, based in Berlin. If you want to check out his latest work, you can do so by following him on Instagram or by liking his Facebook Page

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    I learned a lot on landscape photography with the great Bryan Peterson. He really nows how to make you improve your shots on a few simple steps.

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  2. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing some great tips on improving landscape photography. I want to make these tips into daily exercises to go out and shoot.

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  3. Kurk Rouse

    This is one of the areas I drifted to when I first started. I always fall back to taking seascapes when i just want to relax clear my head and enjoy the photography.

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  4. Jacob Jexmark

    I’ve always longed for a lens wider than 20mm for some landscape work, however you seem to do just fine with the 24-70 which makes me wonder. You are confusing me :P Hmmm. Maybe I should reconsider. Doing a month long trip to Japan as soon as money allows and was looking for a super wide lens. Maybe I don’t need one.

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  5. Tyler Friesen

    Tip #3 has been the most helpful to me. Im by no means a landscape photographer but I’ve done this and seems to be a surprise every time.

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  6. Phoneutria

    #4 Maybe not really beginner stuff but I would add ND, ND grad filters and especially Polariser.
    I see you only included 24-70 lens not anything wider. I’m also about to switch to 24-70, Canon Mk2 on full-frame as a general purpose lens including landscapes. But that means I will have to add my 17-40 to sell list.
    Question is, do you regret not having anything wider than 24mm our you think it’s perfectly fine?

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    • Paul Faecks

      Hey PHONEUTRIA!

      I’m totally fine with having nothing wider than
      24mm, I’ve had the 16-35mm for a few weeks and didn’t really like it.
      Of course this is a decision nobody can make for you, my suggestion is to rent a lens and play around with it. After a few days you’ll know if you want to buy that lens or not.

      Paul

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  7. Ryan

    #3 is always the hardest one to swallow, especially if you can find a friend who’s critical. The way most people work, if it doesn’t look like it’s from a camera phone, then it’s pretty good. You also have to pay attention to which subjects you shoot, and shooting sunsets, flowers, railroad tracks, or bridges all the time is usually a way to make little progress, since they will usually turn out to be eye-catchers in some form or another. It makes getting proper feedback more challenging. Good tips.

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    • Paul Faecks

      Yes, I totally agree with you, #3 is difficult…
      I think it can drastically improve your photography if you find that one critical person, though.

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