21 essential landscape photography tips you need to know

The secrets of great landscapes

16. Get creative with camera movements

Landscape photography is usually all about capturing sharp images. When motion blur is included, it’s often to blur moving elements, such as water. To capture the whole landscape as a dynamic blur, you have to turn the way you shoot on its head. Set the camera to Shutter Priority at 1/8 sec with ISO at 100; these settings will work perfectly for both techniques below.

Panning landscapes is where you move the camera across or vertically during the exposure. A vertical pan works best for trees; for coastal shots, try a horizontal pan.

A zoom burst is where you zoom the lens into the subject you’re photographing and focus. You then begin to smoothly zoom out while releasing the shutter. Experiment with the zoom speed for the best results.

17. Create starbursts

When you shoot at sunrise or sunset, the sun will be extremely bright when it’s just above the horizon. The light will still be soft and colourful, but the bright sun can make shooting difficult. One way to overcome the problem, and to apply a stunning effect, is to create a starburst. To do this, either position yourself so the sun is partially obscured by something, or shoot when the sun is just peeking over the horizon line. Now with the aperture set to either f/16 or f/22, the bright light will be captured as a star. It really is that simple – no filters required.

18. Look for symmetry

Reflections can be a hugely creative addition to all types of photography, but with landscapes they can provide mirror-perfect symmetry. For this type of shot, position the far bank of a lake or the horizon line across the centre of the frame to split the scene and the reflection into two equal parts.

19. Go out and shoot on misty mornings

Waking up to mist may not seem like the best conditions for shooting, but the mysterious look of the landscape is an opportunity not to be missed. The best mist for photographers is ‘radiation fog’, which forms during clear, still nights when the ground loses heat via radiation. This type of mist will often remain close to the ground, forming a thin, white layer.

You may need to use exposure compensation to avoid under-exposure. You should try positioning yourself so the sun is in front of you for more dramatic results.

20. Explore abstract details

Just because the weather isn’t ideal doesn’t mean you have to pack up all your photography kit and head home: there are plenty of other opportunities to keep you busy. Why not explore different locations and look for interesting details such as patterns in rocks or reflections in pools of water, and focus on these?

A kit lens or a telephoto will allow you to zoom in and exclude the surrounding area, and don’t forget to experiment using filters too. You need to remember that polarising filters can reduce glare and saturate colours, while ND filters allow you to shoot 

at slower shutter speeds, so you could even try blurring water to achieve a dynamic abstract effect.

21. Find new viewpoints

Simply setting up your camera and tripod to capture what’s in front of you can quickly come to dictate how you approach and shoot landscapes. So don’t forget to explore locations when you arrive to find the best viewpoint – and if that means laying on the ground to look up, go for it!