Landscape photography is a magical and enriching field. It offers endless opportunities for capturing nature’s beauty, and it’s certainly one of my favorite genres. But as it happens when learning any craft, you’ll often make mistakes when just starting out. In his recent video, Mark Denney shares five beginner habits he once held that slowed his progress. He has dropped them since, and shares with you five common bad habits he suggests you avoid in landscape photography.
1. Final compositions
When Mark started, he’d spend a lot of time trying to achieve the “perfect” composition while on site. He would set his tripod, adjust, and painstakingly align everything in-camera. However, this fixation often resulted in regret when reviewing the images later, wishing he’d framed things slightly differently.
Solution: Now, Mark advocates for “shooting for the crop”. This means framing your image and then zooming out, but just a bit. It provides extra room for adjustments in post, ensuring you have more flexibility when cropping.
2. Tunnel vision
Mark notes that many beginners lock onto one composition and become infatuated, hoping that the right conditions will come to them. But the reality is – you have to work with the conditions you have, not wait for them to come to you. He gives some great examples with his own photos and the moments he nearly missed because he was obsessing about composition, not even turning around.
Solution: Instead of sticking rigidly to one composition, stay flexible. Pay attention to changes in light and atmosphere around you. Sometimes, you’ll find the best shots when you turn around or look in a different direction. Let the environment guide your composition rather than forcing it to fit your pre-determined frame.
3. Global editing
In the early stages, Mark edited his photos using only global adjustments, which affected the entire image uniformly. However, not all parts of a single image need the same editing, and you need to go more into detail to get the best result.
Solution: As Mark advanced, he discovered the perks of local adjustments. By targeting specific parts of an image for editing, you can achieve a more dynamic and professional result.
4. Photo hammering
Mark confesses another mistake we’ve all made: taking hundreds of almost identical shots only to choose the best one later. This approach is not only storage-intensive but also reduces creative opportunities. Not to mention that it’s so draining once you get home and try to find the keeper out of dozens or even hundreds similar shots.
Solution: Rather than sticking to one frame, move around. Experiment with different angles, focal lengths, and perspectives. This way, you come away with a diverse set of images that tell a richer story of the location. I also suggest thinking your shot through before taking a dozen snapshots!
5. Tripod scouting
As a beginner, Mark always had his camera on a tripod, believing it helped in finding the right shot. He’d find the composition, lock his tripod and camera in place, and then slowly adjust it to get the composition he wanted. However, this often limited both his mobility and spontaneity.
Solution: Ditch the tripod, at least initially. Walk around with just your camera and take some test shots. This allows you to test various angles and compositions with more freedom. Only once you’ve found the right shot, set up your tripod for that precise, stable capture.
In conclusion, improving as a photographer is a journey of learning and unlearning, in landscape and all other genres. You’ll inevitably make mistakes, and that’s fine. But be aware of these habits and actively work against them to make the best of your photographic journey.