7 Tips to Improve your Landscape Photography

Photo Tips: Australian Landscape Photographer Andrew Carter shares some tips and tricks of the photography trade to help you to get the best landscape photos possible.

 

Photography Tip 1

 

Use a Tripod

Tripods are difficult- they are difficult to fit into bags and difficult to put up in crowded spaces. They can be expensive, take time to set up, and often it’s easier not to use them. However, if you want good landscape photos, you should always always always use them.

I was driving home one day when a great sunset began to unfold. I stopped, jumped out of the car, and thought- “not worth getting the tripod out for this”- and took the shot.

MISTAKE!Tripod combined exampleOn the left is the small version- at email sizes I might get away with it, but for high quality landscape photography- not a chance! The image on the right is at full size, and you can see the movement in the shot. The shutter was only open for 0.05 sec, but it was more than enough time for me to move slightly and ruin the photo.

Obviously a good quality tripod is the best option, but even a small flexible tripod, or a fence post/ rock/ tree trunk etc, can help you get your camera still.

And in landscape photography you are often trying to use the golden light at the beginning, and end of the day, so often you are working with long exposure times as well, which makes motion blur much more common.

 

Photography Tip 2

 

Turn 2D into 3D

The landscapes you are photographing have 3 dimensions. They have depth.

Your photos don’t. They are completely flat.

Problem?

Sometimes…

I am sure we have all made the mistake of seeing a beautiful sunrise, or sunset, and snapping away madly without thinking any more about it.

To take your photos to the next level, you need to add depth. There are a few tricks to add depth to a photo, and create the feeling of a 3D image.

Foreground interest– Start by breaking your images into 3 portions- foreground, mid-ground, and background. Try to place an item of interest in all 3 sections of your photo. You want the people to look at the foreground in your image, then be drawn deeper to the middle, and then onto the background.Golden Sunset Foreground InterestLeading lines– Leading lines give the viewer’s eye something to follow, drawing it into the photo. When you are setting up your shot, keep your eyes open for lines from tree branches, the waters edge, jetties, roads, fence posts, etc. Anything to draw your eye in.

Repeating patterns– People viewing your photos assume a number of things. Let this work in your favour. Imagine a field of sunflowers- large ones at the front, getting gradually smaller as they get further away. Simple, right? People assume that the flowers are roughly similar in size, so seeing them get smaller gives the impression of depth.

 

Photography Tip 3

 

Learn about ND Filters

Firstly, what are ND Filters?

ND stands for Neutral Density– basically a filter that you put in front of your lens to block some of the light.

These filters are grey, so they reduce the light getting through, but do nothing to the colour of the light. Reducing the amount of light getting through, means leaving your shutter open for longer.

Will this make much difference?

The two photos below are taken seconds apart with the tripod holding the camera steady.

The photo on the left is without a ND filter, the photo on the right is with a ND filter.

ND filter example Andrew Carter Landscape Photography 2

The photo on the left had the shutter open for 1 sec. The photo on the right had the shutter open for 30 sec.

Quite a difference.

 

Photography Tip 4

 

Photograph at the right time of day

Unfortunately, the best times to be out taking landscape photos, are also the times that it is great to be in bed, or having dinner. I will usually aim to be at the location I’m photographing somewhere between 30 and 60 mins before sunrise. And don’t pack up too soon at the other end of the day either, often when you think the light has gone for the day there will be one last spectacular burst of colour.

And for shooting in forests and rainforests, the best conditions can be slightly later in the morning on days that have a good layer of cloud to diffuse the light, and remove harsh shadows.

 

Photography Tip 5

Try Polarizing filters

Polarizing filters need to be used carefully, there are lots of times when you should not use them, but there are certainly times that you should.

Beware using polarizing filters- on wide angled lenses (vignetting), on photos with large amounts of blue sky showing (uneven darkening of the sky), when you need a fast shutter speed (reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor), when trying to photograph reflections, etc

But, at times they are invaluablePolariser ComparisonThe photo on the left has no polarizer, the photo on the right does have a polarizing filter on. You can see the difference a polarizing filter makes- by cutting through the glare, the green of the ferns shine through much more brightly, and you avoid that tired, washed out look. You can also see the difference in the water- the reflections have been removed by the polarizer, resulting in a very different photo.

 

Photography Tip 6

Look at photos of others

Never be afraid to look at the work of other photographers. There are many high quality Australian Landscape Photographers, and many landscape photographers around the world. One advantage of this current period in time is that lots of photos are available to view online. By and large, we are not re-inventing the wheel. Find the photographers whose photos you like, and try and work out what they are doing.

Ask yourself why a certain photo appeals to you? Is it the colour, the composition, the sense of movement.

Once you have some ideas go out and try them yourself. Don’t try and copy a photo, but do try and use the same techniques, adding your own twist.

 

Photography Tip 7

Remember: The worse the weather, the better the photography

While this is not always correct, dramatic weather can certainly make for dramatic photos. I love nothing more than being out in the bush in thick fog or pouring rain, or out on the beaches in huge surf, or as storms come and go. Make sure you take all necessary safety gear- and get out there!

Worse the weather Australian Landscape Photography

So, now it’s time to get out there- the whole world awaits.

These are just a few ideas to try with your photography- what are your Top 7 Photography Tips?

By Andrew Carter

Feel free to leave your ideas/ comments

  1. Emily B

    Great tips. Will definitely be getting out there and giving it a go. Beautiful photos!

  2. Bec

    That really makes it sound simple! I can’t wait to get my camera out again!

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