50 tips for the land­scape photo­graphy beginner

You want to start with land­scape photo­graphy? Then this is the post for you! This is about 50 important tips for the land­scape photo­graphy beginner, some of which I would have liked to know myself when I started land­scape photo­graphy. So be sure to read it before you start! And maybe there are also some helpful tips for more expe­ri­enced photographers. 

This article is also available as a video. So if reading is too tedious for you, the YouTube video is linked below.

1. You don’t need the latest and most expen­sive camera for land­scape photography!

Land­scape photo­graphy is a genre where the latest and grea­test equip­ment is abso­lutely not important. Look for good noise beha­viour, the ability to make manual adjus­t­ments and the possi­bi­lity to shoot in raw format. With that, you are well served for the time being.

2. buy a camera with an inter­ch­an­geable lens.

This allows you to use specia­lised lenses and achieve a wide range of results with the same camera.

3. don’t buy a kit lens with the camera!

In my opinion, kit lenses are a waste of money. It’s better to spend a few euros more and invest in some­thing decent. Either way, you’ll notice it after a very short time.

4. invest in a good lens!

I would invest in a good lens right away. For land­scape, a stan­dard zoom with maximum aper­ture f4 is perfectly adequate for the first time.

5. For land­scape photo­graphy you don’t need extre­mely high light intensity!

Don’t buy a super expen­sive lens with extreme speed if you want to do land­scape photo­graphy. In prac­tice, the maximum focus is often between f5.6 and f13 (maybe even f16). In this genre, high speed is only really neces­sary for aurora photo­graphy, and if you want to do a lot of milky way and star photo­graphy, it is at least helpful.

Diving into Nort­hern Lights | Actually requires a high light inten­sity of f2.8 (and more): Aurora photography

6. invest in a stable tripod!

In my opinion, one of the most important invest­ments. A good tripod will last you for years, longer than any camera. Don’t save money at the wrong end. Putting a camera worth several hundred to a thousand euros on a €50 tripod is not a good idea.

7. save the money for a remote trigger!

Use smart­phone trig­gers or a 2‑second timer instead.

8. buy a good backpack!

As a land­scape photo­grapher, you will be on the road a lot. Being able to carry your own equip­ment around safely and well packed on your back is worth a lot. 

9. save the money for flashes or other arti­fi­cial light. 

In land­scape photo­graphy, we normally use the available light. If you want to explore more crea­tively later, you can of course include arti­fi­cial light sources. But for the begin­ning, there are more important and sensible investments.

10. learn to reco­g­nise and use lighting situations. 

Photo­graphy is pain­ting with light. Get to grips with diffe­rent lighting situa­tions. Stray light, back­light, frontal light, hard light, soft light, etc. and see how they look in your pictures. If you don’t like a picture, it is often due to the wrong light for the chosen motif.

A Moment in Spring­time | Soft light coming in slightly from the front/side creates this fabu­lously dreamy forest scene.

This and all other shots of this post you can request under “Prints” as an art print for your wall at home directly from me. 

11. learn to observe

Photo­graphers who see can create outstan­ding photo­graphs with “bad” equip­ment. Photo­graphers who are blind to their envi­ron­ment and have no vision cannot even achieve average results with top equipment.

12. sharpen your eye for colour harmonies

Pictures often have a special effect when certain colour harmo­nies deter­mine the picture. Sharpen your eye for such situations.

13. learn to pay atten­tion to patterns and contrasts

A picture can benefit immensely from certain contrasts and inte­res­ting or special shapes. Learn to pay atten­tion to such features.

14. reduce

Learn to reduce your images to the neces­sary. Subject, as the main actor, and supporting actors that play to the main actor. When taking pictures, pay atten­tion to what you can and should place outside the picture. This is at least as important as paying atten­tion to what is in the picture.

15. Explore the land­scape and scout motifs.

You can find many well-known loca­tions online via Google Maps, Google Earth, Loca­ti­ons­cout, etc. and can plan your photos and visits in advance. However, you can only find many, espe­ci­ally unknown, motifs by being out in nature. Use Sunday excur­sions, walks and hikes to discover motifs. Save them and come back for your photo in the best conditions.

Morning silence in the meadow | You can find many photo motifs online without any problems today, but some you can only find by being out in nature.

16. save your spots.

Set up your photo loca­tions and spots in digital form right from the start so that you always have them available. Google’s MyMaps service is great for this.

17. learn weather.

Get to grips with weather maps, fore­casts and weather apps and you’ll always be in the right place for the best weather conditions.

18. In the early days, don’t get too atta­ched to one compo­si­tion, but experiment. 

Use diffe­rent angles, vary the posi­tion of the camera, espe­ci­ally in height.

19. At the begin­ning, orien­tate yourself on the basic rules of image composition.

Use the golden ratio, rule of thirds and central perspec­tives for a photo. This ensures a funda­men­tally well-cons­tructed image in the first place. But in certain cases, consciously decide against it.

20. analyse the photos you have taken.

When did the respec­tive rule work, when did it not? When was the conscious “brea­king of the rule” right and when was it not?

Opti­mism | Golden Section, Rule of Thirds, Central Perspec­tive are important points of orien­ta­tion at the begin­ning, but some scenes require deli­be­rate brea­king of the rules.

21. Get fami­liar with the tech­nique, but don’t get too lost in it.

You need to know what the aper­ture does, what effect diffe­rent expo­sure times have and what you can achieve with diffe­rent ISO values. Ever­y­thing else will come late

22. reduce (yes, again)

Espe­ci­ally at the begin­ning, ever­y­thing is so much. An infi­nite number of settings, buttons and possi­bi­li­ties. You don’t have to master ever­y­thing imme­dia­tely, be aware of that. Some things you will never use, that’s normal. So why over­whelm yourself with a bunch of diffe­rent lenses or other gadgets at the begin­ning. There are photo­graphers who have only ever had one focal length for their entire photo­gra­phic career, maybe you are one of these people? Keep your equip­ment to the bare minimum, espe­ci­ally in the beginning.

23. You only really need one filter, the rest is just “nice-to-have”.

Espe­ci­ally at the begin­ning, you don’t want to spend a lot of money. Ther­e­fore, don’t believe any adver­ti­sing promises made by filter manu­fac­tu­rers. Theo­re­ti­cally, you can repro­duce any filter effect digi­tally. Only the effect of the circular pola­ri­sing filter is not possible digi­tally. Ther­e­fore, if you need a filter, this is it.

24. Use the circular pola­ri­sa­tion filter to enhance colours and contrasts. 

This filter is not an “always on” filter, use it deli­bera­tely. In damp forests you reduce the reflec­tions on leaves and bring the colours back into the picture. Contrasts in clouds in the sky can be enhanced. You can also use it to reduce reflec­tions on the surface of water. Learn to use this special filter consciously.

25. Use adapter rings for filters.

You will certainly have lenses with diffe­rent filter diame­ters at some point. Ther­e­fore, it is better to spend a few euros more on a larger filter that you can adapt to lenses with smaller filter diame­ters using inex­pen­sive adapter rings. All in all, you will save a few hundred euros.

Wild garlic brook | Requires the use of the circular pola­ri­sing filter. Reduc­tion of the reflec­tion of the sky in the brook and rich green of the leaves.

26. Don’t skimp on cheap filters.

An expen­sive camera, an expen­sive lens and then you put a cheap junk glass plate from a cheap filter supplier between the subject and the sensor. That makes no sense. Buy — if you can — a high-quality filter from a renowned brand (NiSi, Kase, etc.) This will give you sharp­ness, colour and low chro­matic aberrations.

27. Use matrix metering / multi-field metering

Use matrix metering in the begin­ning and don’t worry too much about spot metering and others. This will basi­cally give you a balanced expo­sure that you can get the most out of after­wards. As long as you don’t end up with burnt out or comple­tely under­ex­posed areas.

28. Use the histo­gram display for the ideal exposure.

The histo­gram already shows you when taking the picture whether there are too dark or too light, burnt-out areas in the photo. This maximum black, or pure white, can no longer be produced in image proces­sing. On the left, the dark and on the right, the light areas of the image are added up in the diagram. If there is an accu­mu­la­tion on one side, the expo­sure must be corrected. 

29. Use the expo­sure compensation

If you have a lot of dark areas but only a little white (for example a water­fall in a dark forest), your camera will aim for a medium expo­sure. Parts of the water would be shown in maximum white without struc­ture, without any chance of correc­tion in the image proces­sing. You have to correct the expo­sure down­wards.
If you have a lot of light areas but only a little black (scene in snow or fog), the dark areas may be too dark. When resto­ring the image in image proces­sing, you get so much noise in the image, some dark areas may also be comple­tely without infor­ma­tion. Expo­sure correc­tion upwards helps.

30. learn how to create an HDR shot

Modern cameras have the option of taking an expo­sure series. In this case, the camera takes several pictures with diffe­rent expo­sures in one go. From under­ex­posed to over­ex­posed. This is always neces­sary when the dynamic range of the recorded scene exceeds the dynamic range of the camera sensor. The indi­vi­dual expo­sures are simply put toge­ther in post-proces­sing, resul­ting in a shot with a larger dynamic range and all the details from dark to light.

Morning at the Schin­del­berg Chapel | A high dynamic range scene like this often requires multiple expo­sures (HDR).

31. learn how to use post-proces­sing software

You have to decide which soft­ware is right for you. Adobe Ligh­t­room & Photo­shop are the compre­hen­sive top dogs. With Luminar you might get there easier and faster, but after a while you might miss the control for all the details. 

32. edit your pictures

The cameras of today are not yet able to repro­duce the land­scape scenery as you have expe­ri­enced it and as you have raised it in yourself. And that is what it is all about. Convey to the viewer what you have expe­ri­enced, what you felt, your moment in nature. No auto­matic system and no arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence can do that. 

33. Shoote in Raw

In der Anfangs­zeit kann es sinn­voll sein, sich Raw + JPG Dateien von der Kamera ausgeben zu lassen. Gerade wenn man noch nicht so vertraut mit der Bild­be­ar­bei­tungs­soft­ware ist kannst du die Out-of-the-cam-JPGs gut nutzen. Aber sobald du später deine Fähig­keiten am PC eben­falls verbes­sert hast, stehen dir mit den RAW-Dateien alle Möglich­keiten offen.

34. Learn what hyper­focal distance is.

In land­scape photo­graphy, the aim is often to achieve conti­nuous sharp­ness from fore­ground to back­ground. Ther­e­fore, learn how to set the right focus point and the hyper­focal distance.

35. learn the tech­nique of focus stacking.

In many cases of land­scape photo­graphy, you want sharp­ness throug­hout. Some­times focal length or aper­ture limit us to such an extent that we cannot get ever­y­thing sharp in one image. Then we have to take pictures with diffe­rent levels of sharp­ness and merge them in post-processing.

Varenna harbour | Conti­nuous sharp­ness without focus stacking is impos­sible in this case, the flowers in the fore­ground were too close.

36. playing with depth of field

In some focal length ranges, conti­nuous sharp­ness is no longer possible without a huge effort. For these longer focal lengths, play around with depth of field in the fore­ground or background.

37. never get bogged down in just one composition

The light is perfect, you found a great compo­si­tion and took a picture? Great! Now don’t stub­bornly stick to this compo­si­tion. The light is perfect so try some­thing else, because in a few minutes the light won’t be there anymore. Espe­ci­ally in the begin­ning you should try out, expe­ri­ment and photo­graph, photo­graph, photo­graph! If later, as an expe­ri­enced photo­grapher, you focus on the one master shot, that is of course perfectly legitimate.

38. Focus also on the small details in the landscape

I know, one is often over­whelmed by the grand scenes of this world and despera­tely wants to squeeze ever­y­thing onto the sensor at once. There’s nothing wrong with that at first. But be sure to remember point 14 “Reduce”! You should get into the habit of focu­sing on the small details in nature. They can become your fore­ground in a wide-angle shot or maybe even your main subject in a macro shot and so on. That reminds me…

39. try not to pack ever­y­thing into the picture at once in the wide-angle range

We had just said it. You’re stan­ding at a vantage point. Great light. Mega view. In front of you rivers, forests, meadows, moun­tains, clouds. You get your wide angle on the camera. Zoom in to the minimum focal length, stand there and pull the trigger. I’ll tell you in a minute. These pictures are for docu­men­ta­tion purposes at most, but they are not useful for your holiday photo book or for anything else. No one knows what exactly they are supposed to be looking at. That’s why you should look for some­thing inte­res­ting in the fore­ground. Make it the star of the shot. Get close to it. With a low posi­tion you reduce the yawning emptiness in the middle ground, and so on. If there is nothing in the fore­ground, use a longer focal length. Pick out an inte­res­ting detail in the land­scape. A tree that is beau­tifully lit by the sun, or, or, but don’t pack ever­y­thing into your wide-angle shot at once. That won’t work.

40. Photo­graph in diffe­rent lighting conditions

As a beginner, you should shoot in all light condi­tions and analyse after­wards what the special features are. Golden light, side light, back light, diffuse light through cloudy skies or fog, in the rain, high-contrast light at midday, which can be great for black & white photo­graphy, at night and the blue hour, in arti­fi­cial light, and so on. Gain expe­ri­ence. But the important thing is to analyse the images you take.

Light rays in the fog | Photo­gra­phing in all lighting condi­tions means gaining expe­ri­ence in order to know later what works how under which conditions.

41. use the time around sunset or sunrise

In land­scape photo­graphy, we benefit from the long shadows and soft light before sunset and after sunrise. The time of the blue hour also holds many surprises. You should, of course, focus on this time.

42. does not only take sunset / sunrise pictures

If it doesn’t fit, you can still take photos at incon­ve­nient times. Because taking photos is better than not taking photos.

43. don’t be afraid of backlighting

There are many myths about back­lighting. The fact is, back­lighting can create many great effects. It can reduce an image to minimal colours, such as golden yellow. There are possi­bi­li­ties to capture sunlight stars and even for portraits, back­lighting can be very inte­res­ting. So go ahead and try it out. 

44. use the lens hood

Each lens is supplied with a lens hood. There is a reason for this. In the case of light coming from the side, or distur­bing light from unwanted light sources, it prevents the direct inci­dence of these light sources into your lens and the asso­ciated loss of contrast. To avoid such situa­tions, use the lens hood. If the main light source comes directly from the front, however, it is of no use.

45. be prepared for bad weather

Collo­qui­ally bad weather can mean the perfect photo­genic weather for photo­graphers, so be prepared if you ever find yourself in the rain.

Taking a shower | It’s certainly more unplea­sant to deal with rain, snow or storm, but some­times this creates the ideal photo­gra­phic conditions.

46. Don’t always get the tripod out.

You are at the loca­tion. You have disco­vered an inte­res­ting motif or a beau­tiful fore­ground. Cool. Take the camera in your hand and take your first hand­held test shots. If neces­sary, use auto­matic mode or aper­ture prio­rity with auto­matic ISO. Move yourself and the camera up, down, side­ways. Tilt the camera. Take a step forward, back. How does the scene look with diffe­rent focal lengths. Have you found the perfect compo­si­tion? Good, then…

47. take your time for THE shot

If you know what, how and why you want to take this shot, then control your settings and get the most out of the image. Remember: you’re taking a picture, not a snapshot! If you need the tripod for a longer expo­sure, now is the time to set it up. You need a pola­ri­sing filter? Then put it on now and capture your master­piece on the sensor.

48. photo­graphy is not a competition

Don’t measure yourself against others, only against yourself. Don’t make colle­agues in your genre your compe­ti­tors. If you think the people around you in your photo­gra­phic envi­ron­ment are your compe­ti­tors that you are trying to beat, they will notice in no time. Do you want to work in a hostile envi­ron­ment? Do you want your colle­agues to share all the good oppor­tu­ni­ties with you or keep them to them­selves? You get what you give. We might see each other as enemies, but we should rather perceive each other as colle­agues who can also benefit from each other’s success.

49. learn from your own mistakes

Always remember. It is not important to be better than ever­yone else. It is only important to be better today than you were yesterday. That’s the only way to get ahead!

50. Taking great photos is the result of lear­ning hundreds of little things.

Be aware of this at the begin­ning and minor setbacks will throw you off track much less often. You don’t auto­ma­ti­cally become a profes­sional through a single work­shop with a well-known photo­grapher. There is also no one golden rule. Lear­ning to photo­graph is an ongoing process. You can learn to press the shutter in a few hours or minutes. Seeing and photo­gra­phing, possibly for a lifetime.

Water features at the water tower | The result seems simple, but it required a lot of expe­ri­ence from plan­ning, weather fore­cas­ting, imple­men­ta­tion to image editing. Many things that have to be brought toge­ther for the final result.

Closing words

Even if the many points may “over­whelm” you at first. Take them to heart and read them from time to time, then you’ll get off to a good start and save yourself a lot of frustration.

I hope there were some tips for ever­yone and please let the commu­nity know if you have a good tip for the land­scape photo­graphy beginner and write it in the comm­ents. Thank you for your support and see you next time.

Video of the BLOG post (in German Language)

I’ve also put all the points toge­ther in a video, feel free to watch it and give feed­back if you liked it!

Subscribe to my newsletter

Keep up to date with my work via email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *