Top 3 Landscape Photography Tips

May 7, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

Top 3 Landscape Photography Tips

May 7, 2015

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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top 3 landscape photography tips

When I first started with photography, landscape photography was my primary interest.

But, no matter what I did, I couldn’t figure out why my landscape photos didn’t look nearly as amazing as I wanted them to look.

As it turns out, there are three really simple landscape photography tips to learn that will drastically transform your landscape photography – and the best part is they have nothing to do with camera gear, settings or location.

Continue reading for my top 3 landscape photography tips.

1. Stop Worrying About Camera Gear And Camera Settings

Camera gear and camera settings are probably the least important part of landscape photography – so stop worrying about them!

Certainly, there are advanced camera gear, camera settings and camera techniques for landscape photography that can give landscape photos a big boost – but if you’re not happy with your current landscape images, upgrading your gear or learning specialized camera techniques isn’t going to help.

The bottom line is this: you can create amazing landscape photos with any camera.

top 3 landscape photography tips

2. Its the Light Not The Location

The number one mistake that novice landscape photographers make is spending the the time and effort to travel to amazing locations and then wasting the opportunity by creating mediocre images in bad light.

No matter how epic the scenery is, no matter how artistic your composition, no matter what you do with your camera – if you are creating landscape photos in bad light your landscape photography will never look as good as you would like.

In other words, the light is much more important than the location.

So what is bad light?

Pretty much any time of day that isn’t within an hour before or after sunrise and sunset.

Generally speaking, we refer to the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset as “blue hour”.  The hour after sunrise and hour before sunset is “golden hour.

There are exceptions to this rule, weather and local conditions can create interesting light or pockets of high quality light at any time of day – but if you’re looking for a quantum leap improvement in your landscape photography – make sure you are at your location during “blue hour” and “golden hour” and put your camera way during the rest of the day.

top 3 landscape photography tips

3. Atmosphere Makes the Photo

The one intangible component of landscape photography, and to me the most exciting component, is atmosphere.

Everyday is different and you can never really know what the scene you are photographing will look like on any given day.

Will the sunrise be clear and grand or bland and grey?  Will a rain storm show you amazing clouds?  Will the forest or lake be shrouded in mist?  Will the sunset accent your mountain vista in a wash of color, or fizzle out into a boring twilight?

This is the reason that infinite numbers of landscape photographers with an infinite number of cameras continuously trek to the same locations and take the same photos – because the atmosphere is always different and being at the right place at the right time to photograph something unique is the essence of landscape photography.

top 3 landscape photography tips

Bonus Tip!

The final component of all great landscape photography is emotion.

All of those gripping landscape photos you love on 500px have one thing in common – they create a certain emotional attachment when you view them and its that emotional attachment that separates them from the hordes of other lesser landscape images.

Sometimes creating an emotional attachment to your landscape photography just happens – add an amazing location, the right light and some atmosphere and you’ll get whoa – awesome!

But, you can also be deliberate about creating a sense of emotion in you landscape photography.

Whether you’re looking for just grandeur and pure awe, or something a little more subtle like hope, renewal or sadness and isolation, light and atmosphere can be used to create the impression of those emotions.

top 3 landscape photography tips

Learn More

If you want a bit more of an in-depth explanation of these tips – I just released a full online class on Skillshare that covers everything in detail.

We arranged for 50 free enrollments only for DIYP readers – just click here (first come first serve, expires in one week from today).

Or, if you miss the free enrollment, don’t worry – you can also get a 14 day free trial that includes access to this class and other photography classes on Skillshare – just click here.

 

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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8 responses to “Top 3 Landscape Photography Tips”

  1. yopyop Avatar
    yopyop

    How boring would that be if everyone was taking landscape photographs only during the blue and golden hours ! I find your advice way too strict regarding this. There are in my opinion A LOT of exceptions to this rule. How about a very deep blue (with a polarizing filter) sky at midday ? Or 9AM winter sun with long shadows ?

    1. Jon Anscher Avatar
      Jon Anscher

      I have to second your comment. I have many amazing landscapes that were not taken during those times (in fact, probably 80% of the landscapes I sell are not taken in the Blue or Golden hours). Landscapes are about light, but different light in different circumstances can yield all kinds of results. The golden hour and the blue hour can definitely offer some amazing light and there’s a reason I rustle out of my tent in the early morning hours and run around in the evening rather than relax in my hammock, but they are far from the only times to capture landscapes.

  2. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
    Gvido Mūrnieks

    Tip 5: Always shoot the scene in landscape and portrait orientation.

    1. mike Avatar
      mike

      Yo dawg, I heard you like landscapes, so I took a picture of this landscape in landscape orientation.

  3. nippon Avatar
    nippon

    Garbage content.

  4. Bill Binns Avatar
    Bill Binns

    Excellent advice for early beginners. I think the majority of people who are just starting out and are unhappy with their photos are not thinking at all about the quality of the light or the direction it is coming from. Landscape photos shot at noon are *almost* always going to look terrible or at best..”blah”.

  5. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Camera gear doesn’t matter, but camera settings do matter when targeting for a specific goal.
    The local camera club I joined, had a “show-n-tell” theme of panoramas. At first, I was going to leave it to the photographers with the DSLRs and Photoshop. Then I thought “Why not try it with film?”
    I hadn’t done panoramas, but having a consistent exposure made sense to me. Varying apertures and/or shutter speeds would mess up the scenes to stitch together. I took my Canon A-1 to manual and shot three frames with a 28mm.

  6. JP Avatar
    JP

    “The bottom line is this: you can create amazing landscape photos with any camera.”
    Lets all sell our equipment, use the money to travel to exotic locations. Best of all, landscape photography just got easier without have to sling around all that weight since all you need is the camera from your phone.