12 Advanced Tips to Capture Stunning Landscape Photos

12 Advanced Tips to Capture Stunning Landscape Photos

Landscape photography is a popular and challenging genre of photography. Capturing the beauty of nature requires not only technical skill but also a creative eye and a keen understanding of light and composition. In this article, we will discuss 12 advanced tips that will help you capture stunning landscape photos.

The Golden Minute lasts just a couple minutes, but makes for the most stunning cityscape photos.

1. Choose the Right Time of Day

The right time of day can make a big difference in the quality of your landscape photos. The best time to shoot is during the golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. During these times, the light is soft and warm, creating a beautiful and natural-looking scene.

A tripod is the most important tool in your kit, because it allows you to create the sharpest possible photos in any lighting scenario, or to blur motion in moving water. Learn how to choose the right tripod for you here.

2. Use a Tripod

A tripod is an essential tool for landscape photography. It will help you keep your camera steady and eliminate camera shake, which can blur your photos. Tripods also allow you to take longer exposures, which is particularly useful when shooting in low light conditions.

The Polarizing filter makes the blue in the skies more dramatic

3. Use Polarizing Filters for dramatic skies

Polarizing filters can help you enhance the colors and saturation in your photos. They work by reducing reflections and glare, which can make your photos look more vibrant and rich. Polarizing filters are especially useful when shooting landscapes with water or glass, as they can help eliminate unwanted reflections.

Long exposures will soften moving water and create reflections

4. Experiment with Long Exposures

Long exposures can add an interesting and creative element to your landscape photos. By using a tripod and a neutral density filter, you can take long exposures even in bright light conditions. This will blur moving elements in the scene, such as water or clouds, creating a dreamy and ethereal look.

Study the weather to learn which weather patterns make for the most dramatic sunsets

5. Study the Weather

The weather can have a big impact on the quality of your landscape photos. Overcast days can provide a soft, diffused light that is ideal for landscape photography. On sunny days, try shooting during the golden hour when the light is warm and soft. Pay attention to the direction of the sun, as the direction of the light can dramatically affect the mood and tone of your photos.

Composition is everything. A simple composition that follows the basic rules makes for a stunning photo.

6. Pay Attention to Composition

Composition is a crucial aspect of landscape photography. By using the rule of thirds, leading lines, and other composition techniques, you can create photos that are visually pleasing and engaging. Experiment with different compositions and angles to find the one that works best for each scene.

A zoom lens will make background appear larger, but create a shallower depth of field. A lens that is shorter will see a wider angle of view, but will have greater depth of field and smaller backgrounds.

7. Use the Right Lens

The right lens can make a big difference in the quality of your landscape photos. Wide-angle lenses are a popular choice for landscape photography, as they allow you to capture a broad and expansive view. Zoom lenses are also useful, as they allow you to zoom in and out to capture different parts of the scene.

Zoom lenses also have an amazing effect of making the backgrounds in your images larger, which can make mountains or other landmarks in the distance look larger. Wide-Angle lenses, on the other hand, can make mountains in the distance look like mole hills.

Learn more about how to choose the right lens for landscape photography here.

I had to use f/16 to get the foreground and background in focus in this photo

8. Think About Depth of Field

Depth of field refers to the amount of the image that is in focus. In landscape photography, it is often desirable to have a large depth of field, which means that both the foreground and background are in focus. This can be achieved by using a small aperture, such as f/11 or f/16.

Most wide-angle zoom lenses can create an image that’s almost perfectly in focus from front to back by focusing just one third of the way into the frame at f/16. Using smaller apertures (higher numbers) than f/16 will start to ruin image sharpness.

By f/11 or f/16, you will almost assuredly need to use a tripod to get a perfectly-exposed image at sunrise or sunset when you want to use the lowest ISO possible.

Deep canyons block a lot of light, meaning it’s nearly impossible to capture this much dynamic range in a single image. By combining 3 different exposures, it’s possible to create a single image with enough detail in shadows without blowing out the highlights.

9. Know When to Use HDR

HDR (high dynamic range) photography involves taking multiple photos of the same scene at different exposures and combining them into one photo. This can be useful when shooting landscapes that have a wide range of brightness, such as a scene  at sunset with both bright sky and dark shadows.

By using HDR, you can ensure that you don’t ever have to choose between retaining the brilliant colors of the sunset sky, or getting enough detail of the foreground.

Learn more about how to use HDR to create professional photographs even if you only have an entry-level camera here.

When the weather or lighting conditions aren’t just perfect, or when you have a simple composition, consider turning your photos black and white.

10. Experiment with Black and White

Black and white landscape photos can be beautiful and dramatic. By removing the color, you can focus on the texture, shape, and contrast in the scene, creating a timeless and elegant look. Experiment with converting your landscape photos to black and white to see if it enhances the mood and atmosphere of the scene.

The best black and white images have a simple composition. Consider making images with just one subject.

Elements in the foreground of your photos can lead the eyes to the subject of your photograph just like the rows of lavender in this photo.

11. Pay Attention to the Foreground

The foreground is an important part of the composition in landscape photography. By including an interesting foreground element, such as a rock formation or a tree, you can add depth and dimension to your photos. Pay attention to the placement of the foreground element in the scene, and make sure it complements the background and overall composition.

If there is a foreground close to your camera, also make sure that it is sharp and in focus. The easiest way to get the foreground and the background in focus is to focus one third of the way into the image, and use an aperture value around f/16.

Brighten the hero, darken the villains in Lightroom Classic to make images that pop

12. Post-Processing Techniques

Post-processing is an important part of landscape photography. By using editing software, you can enhance the colors, contrast, and sharpness of your photos. However, it is important to be mindful of over-processing, as this can lead to a loss of detail and a unnatural look. Experiment with different post-processing techniques to find the ones that work best for each scene.

By following these advanced tips, you will be well on your way to capturing stunning landscape photos. Remember to experiment and have fun, as the creative process is just as important as the technical aspects of photography. Happy shooting!

Tim Shields

Tim Shields is the founder of Photography Academy, the author of The Photo Cookbook, and the creator of the Photography Transformation 4-Step System. He holds the designation of Master Photographer in Fine Art from Master Photographers International.