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Wildflowers out in masses in late July
Wildflowers out in masses in late July

Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

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I finished a six week landscape photography class and feel like I learned so much – from two full day field trips and from listening to the weekly critiques from our teacher of our work. There’s nothing like looking at several hundred images every class to understand what makes the good shots pop.

I thought I’d share 10 landscape photography tips for beginners that I learned over a six week course. Over time and with lots of practice the caliber of my photos should and has improved dramatically. (Lightroom helps too!)

Abandoned buildings in Quebec Harbour
Deserted fishing village on Michipicoten Island in Lake Superior

Here are 10 landscape photography tips that I hope you find worthwhile.

Photography landscape tips – the rule of thirds

Once you’ve divided your photo onto thirds put the main subject on one of the four lines or at one of the four intersections.

O'Brien Lake larches in Banff National Park
O’Brien Lake larches in Banff National Park

The golden rule

The most important area in a photograph is located near the bottom right corner of the image. I haven’t taken advantage of this photography trick very often.

Alligator in Okefenokee Swamp
Alligator in Okefenokee Swamp

Photography landscape tips – the golden triangle

If you can links three points of interest it will pull the scene together.

Hay bales cast a shadow on a fall day
Hay bales cast a shadow on a fall day

The golden spiral

Think flowers, shells, stairwells – anything with a curve that draws your eye in.

Flower illustrating the golden spiral
Flower illustrating the golden spiral

The 80/20 rule 

Decide what’s most important in the scene. Is it the land, the water or the sky? Eighty percent of the shot should then be weighted towards what you want the viewer to focus on.

Big prairie skies
Big prairie skies

Framing an image

One tree is enough to frame an image. Dead tree trunks work well too.

Framing the Sheep River Valley with trees
Framing the Sheep River Valley with trees

Leading lines and S curves

Paths and rivers are a good place to look for leading lines and S curves.

Photography landscape tips and leading lines at the Gardens of Villa Melzi, Bellagio
The Gardens of Villa Melzi, Bellagio

Don’t forget your foreground

Give your viewer somewhere to stand.

The Rainbow Range hike near Bella Coola is a winner
The Rainbow Range hike near Bella Coola is a winner

Take advantage of the golden hour

Use the beautiful light from the golden hour to your advantage. The 15 – 20 minutes before the sun rises and after the sun sets can lend magic to your photos.

 Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners - catch the golden hour
Landscape photography tips for b beginners – catch the golden hour

Change your point of view

Look up or get low, really low for a change of view.

Photography landscape tips and looking up in Wells Gray Provincial Park
Looking up in Wells Gray Provincial Park

Of course there are always times when the rules are meant to be broken but when you’re first learning I think sticking with the rules helps a lot. Chances are if your photograph can incorporate more than one of the composition rules it will be even stronger.

Photography landscape tips when you’re shooting outside 

  • Use a tripod.
  • Avoid putting trees in the middle of your photo.
  • Take lots of images.
  • Bracket your exposures – especially for sunrises and sunsets.
  • Always use a lens shade. Keep the sun off the front of the lens.
  • Use different filters – like a polarizing, neutral density or graduated neutral density filter.
  • Try changing your white balance.
  • Use your histogram. Learn how to read it.
  • At mid-day with bright sun a neutral density filter works well. It decreases the amount of light but not the colour.
  • Move the composition around.

One other useful trick I found worthwhile and I now use on almost every shot is to underexpose my shot – from anywhere between -1/3 to – 1 1/3, especially if it’s really bright outside. You’ll find you get more contrast with your colours.

Look for the exposure compensation button on the back of your camera and then start playing around. You can always bring the exposure up again in a software editing program whereas if you’ve overexposed a photo there isn’t much you can do.

Further reading on photo heavy posts to inspire a trip

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

10 landscape photography tips and tricks

 

 

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