Five Landscape Photography Tips For Amateurs

There are no short­age of photog­ra­phy blogs on the net and each of them features hundreds of arti­cles on how to be a better photog­ra­pher. There’s a lot of good infor­ma­tion for anyone want­ing to learn. But I’m frequently frus­trated  by some of the advice I read which seems to assume either an unlim­ited budget or unlim­ited time to get every­thing lined up for perfec­tion.

I am the epit­ome of an amateur. I don’t make a living taking photographs, I use a point and shoot camera and I’ve really only been seri­ously into photog­ra­phy for about four years. Any one of these things would make most photo snobs dismiss my opin­ions. But I’m not writ­ing this for them. I’m writ­ing it for the millions of photog­ra­phers who are like me.

So here are my five land­scape photog­ra­phy tips for amateurs:

1) Find a Loca­tion and Keep Revis­it­ing

Part of a series of shots I’m taking docu­ment­ing local fall foliage.

When you’re not a profes­sional photog­ra­pher access to good loca­tions can be limited (no trips to Alaska for exam­ple) and photograph­ing the same scenes again and again. But loca­tions change radi­cally with ever visit due to a combi­na­tion of time of year, time of day and weather.

I have a hand­ful of handy loca­tions that I visit on a weekly to monthly basis and every time I’ve gone, I’ve found a new angle, new view or some­thing that stood out that I haven’t noticed before.

2) The Shot You Can Get Is Better Than No Shot

This isn’ the care­fully posed shot I was going for, but it’s a moment in time that won’t be repeated.

Most photog­ra­phy advice will stress that you shouldn’t just randomly snap off shots. That you should find your spot, find the right light­ing and get every­thing perfect.

All true in an ideal world. But most likely the day you’re at your loca­tion, it’s mid-day and the sun is harsh or you only have 20 minutes before you have to go and pick up the kids. So take the shot you can get.

At a mini­mum, it’s good prac­tice. It also serves as a marker for some­thing you may want to try again the next time you are there. And if it’s a partic­u­lar weather phenom­e­non (rain­bow for exam­ple), it may be your only shot at it anyway so at least grab a photo for the memo­ries even if it’s not going into your port­fo­lio.

3) You Can Fix A Lot of Things In Post

This image required heavy edit­ing to remove smudges.

Every­one always tells you to get it right in the camera and not to rely on post process­ing. I agree.

But… there are many many things you can fix or improve on in post. Don’t feel guilty about using Photo­shop to remove a smudge, adjust the contrast or pump up the color a little.  Every­one does it.  For some reason though it is contin­u­ally presented in a nega­tive light online.

Ignore what people are saying and focus on making your photo as good as it can be. That means doing the best you can when you take it and then doing the best you can to improve it in post.

4) Shoot Many, Keep Few

I took at least 40 shots before finally coming up with this compos­ite of 5 of them.

You may have heard the phrase Spray and Pray which is used rather deri­sively in the photo­graphic commu­nity to describe the habit of shoot­ing off a bunch of shots in the hope that one will be decent. This is certainly a poor way to improve your photo­graphic skills.

However, you absolutely should take multi­ple shots  to find the keeper. Try differ­ent aper­tures, shut­ter speeds and expo­sure settings.  Move the camera up or down. Walk five feet in each direc­tion and see how it looks from there. They may all be tech­ni­cally compe­tent photos but one will be better than the rest.

At my current skill level I’m hoping to keep maybe one in ten of my photos.

5) Use the LCD Display

I favor the viewfinder, prob­a­bly out of habit, and I think it’s better for correctly fram­ing a shot. It can also be diffi­cult to see the LCD clearly in bright light. But it signif­i­cantly limits where I can put the camera. I’m prepared to crawl about on the ground to get a shot but some angles are just about impos­si­ble if I want to put my eye against the viewfinder.

If you want to produce a really good land­scape shot, you really need a differ­ent angle and using the LCD display may give it to you. Many cameras now come with a swivel­ing LCD display which allows you to put your camera and very unusual angles and may give you a perspec­tive on the land­scape that people just don’t normally see.

About Eoghann Irving

Overly opinionated owner and author of You can get updated on his posts directly on the blog here or through the usual social networking suspects. What? You expected me to say something interesting here? That's what the blog posts are for. Eoghann has often wondered if people read these little bio things we have to fill out everywhere on the internet and, assuming they do, why?