I have a confession for you today, I am NOT a landscape photographer. But when I find myself in situations where beautiful landscapes surround me, I want to be able to take a good shot that will do the scene justice. I want to be able to capture more than a quick snapshot – I want to take a photo I’d be proud to hang on my wall. So here are 8 things I’ve learned in my quest for those wall-worthy photos.
1: Light is KEY
Light is crucial for any type of photography, but with landscapes I’ve found it matters so much more. In a portrait session it’s easy enough to duck under some trees or behind a wall to find some shade for a shot. But you sure can’t do that with a mountain! You have to wait for great light to appear, and then take the shot. And if you don’t, and have only mediocre light? It’s going to give you a fairly mediocre shot.
Take the photo below, for example. It’s from a road trip of ours, when we stopped at a gorgeous lake in Jasper, Alberta, Canada.
This was taken at midday – notoriously bad lighting conditions. It features direct sun giving hard, overhead light. You can see that the mountains look pretty bland because the light isn’t doing them any favours. If this shot was taken more around golden hour, the sun would have been lower in the sky and we’d have side lighting. That would have added a lot more depth and dimension to the mountains.
Side note: Despite this not being the best light for the mountains, I’m still glad we took the shot anyway! It’s a great memory, even in harsh lighting conditions. Don’t let less-than-ideal light stop you from capturing a memory!
Pro landscape photographers can often be found setting up their shots well before the sun is up, waiting for that perfect golden sunrise, or out late for the sunset. Most of their shooting happens during these times, because the light during the middle of the day often just isn’t as great.
Try to shoot a lot during the golden hours, and you’ll find that great light really helps to make a better landscape shot.