Landscape Photography Tips: Beat the Challenge!

5 Landscape Photography Tips

For the true landscape photographer what matters most is not his gear but his ability to be at the right place at the right time. You have got to believe it when the greatest landscape photographer of all times Ansel Adams says –

“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”

There cannot be a more apt summation of what landscape photography is all about, but yet I will make an attempt to explain further and give you 5 landscape photography tips so that the meaning is obvious.

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1. Early Bird Catches the Worm

Sunrise at Millabedda, Sri Lanka by uditha wickramanayaka
Sunrise at Millabedda, Sri Lanka by Uditha Wickramanayaka

The thing that separates landscape photography from any other genre is the inability of the photographer to control light and with that the elements. It’s absolutely beyond a photographer to shape either of them. Neither can he use artificial lights.

The best thing that a photographer can do is shoot at times of the day when the light suits his requirement. For most parts, landscape photographers shoot at dawn and dusk.

I have never known a landscape photographer who sleeps till sunrise. He has to be ready in his harness, finger on the shutter release, at least half an hour before sunrise. When I was in school my father inculcated into me the great virtue of getting up early. Landscape photography is one area where that virtue seems to pay rich dividends.

Related Landscape Photography Tips: Natural Light Photography Tips

2. Battling the Elements

storm by liebeslakritze
storm by liebeslakritze

As a landscape photographer, you are constantly challenged by nature. The heat, the dust, the cold and the rain, Mother Nature will try her best to dissuade you and deny you the images you seek. This is where you as the photographer have to perform out of your skin in order to prevail.

Many times you will be frustrated because the light isn’t right, the weather is playing tricks or the sun simply refuses to show up through the clouds. At those moments when you feel like simply wrapping up and heading home, stick around a bit longer.

Remember, the rewards will only come to one who is the most persistent.

3. Research as if Your Life Depends on it

While some great moments will present themselves out of the blue, and you have to be versatile enough to adjust and take the shot, for most times you will just have to do some plain hard research.

Gather as much information as possible before you set your foot.

  • Which direction will the sun rise?
  • What are the best vantage points to get the shots you seek?
  • How’s the weather going to be like?

For star trail or Milky Way photography, you will also need to know at what time the Milky Way will be visible in the sky and in which direction.

There are some very cool smartphones like The Photographer’s Ephemeris Photography iOS App which correctly predicts the direction and the exact time enabling you to plan and time your shots. Another option is the PhotoPills iOS App, great for planning and shooting landscapes.

Landscape Photography Tip: PhotoPills is a great app to plan your landscape shots!

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4. Get the Right Gear for Your Landscape Photos

Too much lens for my polarizer! by David J Laporte
Too much lens for my polarizer! by David J Laporte

Just a basic camera and a lens are the bare minimum starting gear that you need in order shoot landscape photos. But that is not all. Landscape photography needs a lot more than just that.

WF Fancier 535 carbon fiber tripod by F 5.6
WF Fancier 535 carbon fiber tripod by F 5.6

For starters, you will need a bunch of filters such as a one-stop, a two-stop and a three-stop neutral density filter. You will also need circular polarizers for your lenses.

Additionally, you will need a good quality tripod which is essential when you want to do long exposures.

On top of all that you will need

As you can realize, this is a bit of gear heavy endeavor. But all this is shooting gear only.

If you love traveling on your own, you will need a tent, sleeping gear, proper outdoor shoes, plastic sheets as well as a sturdy AWD vehicle which can carry everything along with you to harsh and remote terrains.

5. Never Give Up

Saturday Sunrise by Rachel Kramer
Saturday Sunrise by Rachel Kramer

Arguably the greatest landscape photographer of all times Ansel Adams had once said:

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.”

This statement should give you an indication of what to expect when you begin landscape photography as a serious pursuit of heart.

There will be moments of sheer despair when you will produce no good images to show for the hard work put in. Again there will be moments when your gear malfunctions in the harshest of weather.

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There will be moments when you will miss ‘the moment’ by a whisker. Just remember, for every failure you will inch one step closer to success and that one great image will be just around the corner.

And this is my final but most important landscape photography tip: Keep persevering, keep shooting!

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