Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Digital Photography

10 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Photography

  • Print
  • + Share This
Rob Sheppard offers ten tips that will help you stay focused on your photography so that you can shoot any landscape better.
Like this article? We recommend

Landscape photography has long been one of my favorite types of photography. When I was a teenager, one of the earliest photographs that I remember taking as I explored photography was of Gooseberry Falls in Minnesota’s Gooseberry Falls State Park. Early impressions can definitely affect a lifetime of work.

Minnesota’s landscape was challenging for a budding nature and landscape photographer. Minnesota has no towering mountains, no roaring rivers, no geysers, no skyscraping redwoods, no dramatic deserts. Yet, I think that this gave me an education in working with the landscape that forced me to find good pictures, not simply make snapshots of spectacular locations.

Sure, a bold, dramatic landscape is nice, but sometimes that great subject can be a distraction to getting your best photography. All of us have been distracted by beautiful scenes that so overwhelm us that we forget that we cannot cram that beautiful scene into our camera. Here are some tips that will help you stay focused on your photography so that you can shoot any landscape better:

1. Focus on the photograph, not just the subject

We can only create a photograph that represents or interprets the subject since a landscape will not “fit” into our camera. Look at the subject, yes, but go beyond that and really look at what it looks like as a photograph. A good way to do that is to look at your image in your LCD after you have taken the shot. Is this just a record of the scene or is this a photograph that you would be proud to put on your wall?

Look beyond aiming your camera at a great subject. Examine the entire image to be sure it works as a photograph.

2. See the light

Photography is about light, so this might seem obvious. Here’s the deal – we see subjects; the camera sees light and shadow. And the camera overemphasizes the light and shadow. This is one reason many landscape photos fail – the photographer saw the subject but not the light on the subject in the way that the camera did. The LCD can help.

Look for and be sure you see what the light is doing to your scene. Look at both highlights and shadows.

3. Favor early and late light

I know, you are out in that great landscape in the middle of the day. Unfortunately, few landscapes look their best then. They need a low light that creates texture and form, a low light that adds warmth to the scene. That light only occurs early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

The best light for landscape photography usually comes early and late in the day.

4. Ban auto white balance

Auto white balance will ensure that you never get the best colors for your landscape. It is a compromised way of dealing with the light. It is inconsistent, but worse, often adds a blue cast to outdoor photos. This blue cast desaturates colors and makes the scene look less inviting, yet it looks “okay” so photographers accept it. Set a specific white balance such as Daylight for sun, Cloudy for clouds.

Auto white balance will destroy the subtle colors of a scene like this.

5. Watch your foreground and background

One excellent way to improve your compositions is to consciously pay more attention to the foregrounds and backgrounds of your images. Look at what is happening up close in that foreground. Can you change your position to make it more dramatic? How is the background relating to the foreground? Change your position to make that relationship better, too.

Foreground and background can be very important parts of a strong landscape photo. Be sure they work together.

6. Use a wide-angle in close

The first response to a big landscape is often to pull out the wide-angle and step back. Instead of doing that, choose a wide-angle focal length, then get in close to something cool in the foreground. Or find a small landscape that you can get into with your wide-angle.

Wide-angles up close give a striking foreground to background relationship.

7. Shoot distant details with a telephoto

Telephoto focal lengths can isolate and enlarge important parts of a landscape, highlighting them in your photo. In addition, telephotos can compress distance and create fascinating patterns and colors because of that.

A telephoto can bring in important landscape details at a distance from your camera position.

8. Get ultimate sharpness

There is no special trick or expensive lens that is needed for truly sharp photos of the landscape. You just need a solid tripod. The major cause of unsharp landscape photos is camera movement during exposure. The tripod restricts that problem. And never skimp on a cheap tripod – that can be worse than no tripod at all! A good tripod is an investment that will do more for sharpness than buying an expensive “pro” lens.

No lens or camera will give its best results for landscape work if you are not regularly using a tripod.

9. Bring out clouds in the sky

White clouds against a blue sky can be a wonderful part of a photo. A polarizing filter can help. Rotate it over your lens until the clouds stand out better against the sky. However, a polarizing filter mainly works when you are photographing with the sun at one side or the other. If you are facing the sun or facing away from it, the polarizer will have little effect on skies.

A polarizing filter can help bring out clouds in a blue sky, but you have to be at the right angle to the sun.

10. Try black-and-white photography by shooting it in your camera

Most digital cameras will let you shoot black-and-white photos in the camera so that your photos display in black-and-white on your LCD. Black-and-white photography is not simply about removing color. It is about tonal, textural and sharpness contrasts, all of which will show up on your LCD when you shoot in black-and-white. If your camera shoots RAW + JPEG, you get the best of color and black-and-white. The JPEG will be in black-and-white, but the RAW will be in color (it always is).

Most digital cameras will let you shot black-and-white images directly. This is a great way to see in black-and-white and get better photos with that medium.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.peachpit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020