How to take great landscape photos
Simple tricks such as getting the ratio right and following the rule of thirds will help you take a good landscape photo
The outdoors, whether nature at its finest or even an impressive urban setting, makes for some great pictures. Capturing this on camera is best done in landscape mode; this is to say that the image will appear horizontal in orientation, allowing for a wider frame to be pictured. Apart from simply holding your camera or smartphone in the right orientation, there are a few more things you can do to make sure the picture looks good.
When shooting landscapes, usually there isn’t a ‘subject’ of the picture, and the goal is to capture a large area with multiple elements equally sharply. While some of these tips need the use of specialised equipment to do this, others are simply a matter of putting some care and effort into getting the picture right. Read on to find out what you can do to make your landscape photos look great.
Use a tripod
Important aspects of landscape photography are stability of the camera, and ensuring that the angle is correct to avoid the picture looking crooked or out of alignment. Both of these factors can be ensured by using a tripod; even a simple one will do in most situations, and will avoid shakes or alignment issues when capturing the photo. It will also allow you to step back and examine the framing by comparing what you see naturally versus what the viewfinder shows you.
Set up your camera for sharpness and detail
Play around with the settings on your camera or smartphone to ensure that it’s geared to capture as much detail as possible, and ensure a sharp picture that largely avoids issues of noise and grain. This can be done by setting the aperture to a mid level so that both the foreground and background remain in focus and clear, and by keeping the ISO low to ensure exposure is kept in check, and the natural lighting conditions of the outdoors are accurately captured.
Beginners can even set their cameras to a dedicated automatic landscape mode for best results, which will set the camera up correctly. You can even use a wide-angle lens, or wide mode on a smartphone camera, which will allow for more of the landscape to be captured in the image. Many smartphones also have a Panorama mode which allows for very wide images that cover a huge range of the landscape.
Shoot at the right time of day
Although there might be times when you want to (or have to) shoot at night, most good landscape photos are taken during the day under natural daylight. This will ensure that you capture plenty of detail and can see more in the image. In particular, it might be worth shooting just after sunrise or just before sunset, since the sun is low in the sky, the light isn’t as harsh, and there tends to be an orange-yellow glow in the light which will make the landscape look particularly nice.
Follow the rule of thirds, frame your photo according to leading lines
The rule of thirds is a basic photography technique, that can be followed by turning on grid lines on the viewfinder of your camera. You can use these indicative lines to frame your photo correctly; for example, you can place the horizon in the top one-third of the picture, leaving the bottom two-thirds for the landscape itself.
You can also use leading lines in the frame to direct the attention of the viewer a particular way. This can be as simple as capturing a tree line or mountain range from a distance, while framing the image to use the lines as a sort of ‘guide’ to the viewer on how to view the picture and see everything the photographer meant to be seen.