The wind in your hair, a camera slung over your shoulder and a great location in mind: nothing beats getting out into the great outdoors to shoot landscapes. With the right conditions to hand, a successful outdoors shoot can be an exhilarating experience. But when time is of the essence, you need to learn how to work quickly and methodically to guarantee great shots on every outing.
It doesn’t matter where you live: you’re rarely ever far from a great location or two. And even if you have to travel, it’s all part of the adventure. Whether you’re shooting at home or abroad, the internet has made location research easier than ever, and the planet certainly feels like a smaller place, with even far-flung destinations feeling within reach.
The great thing about landscape technique is that it doesn’t matter where or when you’re shooting: all of the tricks and techniques are the same. Perfect your technique and you’ll be ready to take on the world and enjoy the landscape more than ever before. When David Hockney said, “Enjoyment of the landscape is a thrill,” he hit the nail on the head. By the time you’ve digested these tips, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is the weather…
1. Plan like a pro
Checking the weather before you head out is a given – but how about finding out exactly what time sunrise or sunset will take place at your chosen location, or exactly which direction the sun will rise or fall in relation to your desired shooting position? The good news is that you can do all this and more with a super-helpful tool called The Photographer’s Ephemeris.
This website or app for iOS and Android uses Google Maps to show you all the information you need when planning a landscape shoot. The web/browser-based version is free to use, while the smartphone app costs around £5/$5 and is worth every penny.
2. Use a wide-angle lens
Landscape photography is a subject where you can use a wide range of lenses, from the wide-angles you probably think of first all the way up to telephotos. While the location and subject will always dictate the best focal length and technique to use, every landscape photographer certainly needs an ultra-wide-angle lens in their kit bag.
For an APS-C camera, consider a lens with a focal range of 10-20mm; for full-frame cameras, roughly 15-30mm will provide a dramatic, wide field of view.
Don’t leave home without one!
3. Pack with care
With the prospect of walking several miles to get to a location, it’s imperative that you only pack what you’ll need. Anything could happen, but if you know you’ll only need one or two lenses, only pack these. Don’t forget your filters, spare batteries, lens-cleaning accessories and, of course, clothing to suit all the possible weather conditions for the time of year.