Updated: 4 Apr 2023
Having been a photography instructor since 2018, I have been fortunate that my tours and workshops have taken me to some amazing locations both in the UK and internationally.
When at the location it is worth taking your time to compose all your images, as you may never have the opportunity to visit them again. So try and get it right first time.
I have compiled an extensive list of my twenty-five guiding principles for landscape photography which I have always applied, where possible. However, before I detail these principles, it is worth knowing that your landscape photography will improve massively by applying the following four factors to your image:-
Choose a main subject for your image. This will be your focal point around which everything else is built.
The light in your image is one of the most important factors. Try to avoid to much sunlight or too little sunlight. As much as possible I try to avoid shooting images during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its brightest.
It is not unknow for professional landscape photographers to be on the road at 2-3am in order to capture the very best light.
I have written a article on this subject – The Importance Of Light In Photography. Click the link here.
This is the area where many photographers struggle. Being a photography instructor, this is the subject I get asked about most often. If you follow several of my twenty-five guiding principles (listed below) this will help greatly with your composition.
Aside from your subject, your must consider the following four elements for your image building:-
Take your time and assess the foreground, middle ground, background and the sky for your image.
These are all important elements in your composition. If one is not right it can certainly reduce the impact of your final image. Remember, these elements cannot be changed in post production, so it is vital you get this right in camera.
Timing is very much linked to light. Rather than producing “picture postcard” images, try to time your image for a more atmospheric portrayal of your landscape at the best time of the day.
Most professional photographers given the choice would prefer to conduct their landscape photography either at first light or last light of the day. Weather conditions at that time of the day, will normally produce mist or fog at sunrise. Both these elements can add to more atmospheric and dramatic images.
Try shooting your images in the Golden hour or blue hours of the evening just before sunset. These will both add a more atmospheric feel to your final image.
If you following these four important elements, you will taking your images to the next level of photography.
Once at your location of choice, try to implement a few of these principles to your photography.
It is a lengthy list, so I would certainly recommend screen printing or copying this page and take it with you on your next landscape shoot.
1. Enjoy your whole photography experience
2. Research and get to know your camera and equipment
3. Practice, practice and then even more practice
4. Learn tips and techniques from others
5. Always shoot in Camera Raw (or camera raw & jpeg together)
6. Use different locations
7. Post your images on social media and seek honest feedback
8. Print off your images
9. Try using different photography techniques
10. Use filters, particularly a polaroid filter for reducing glare on water, ice, trees etc
11. Take your images in different formats – landscape, portrait and square modes
12. Take time to view your surroundings – There may be a better view just a few feet away
13. Always view your image back for focusing. You may never visit the location again!
14. Always consider focus or exposure stacking when set up on a tripod
15. If possible, separate your subject completely from other background features
16. Less is more, do not over complicate your image
17. Watch the light, observing may provide you with better natural lighting and patterns in cloud formations
18. Use available apps to plan your shoot
19. Use your in-camera Histogram, remember the patterning should be mainly towards the right hand side
20. If you have trouble lining up a shot, use your in-camera horizontal horizon line
21. As much as possible stick with the “Rule of thirds”
22. Try to use leading lines – to draw the viewer’s eye towards a specific point of interest
23. If you have poor eyesight or use corrective vision (spectacles/contact lenses) regularly check and calibrate image sharpness in your camera’s diopter
24. Frame your image with your mobile phone camera before using your main camera
25. DSLR camera users must always calibrate every lens to the camera body. It is not guaranteed they will be automatically calibrated when used.
Eventually, you will have that beautiful landscape photograph fit to be hung on your living room wall.
I have always stuck to these principles and it really worked for me!
If you have any questions about this article, please message me on my Contact Page.