Take better Landscape photos NOW!!!


I’m not a landscape photographer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn a couple of times last week!

I have always loved landscape photography; I make my living photographing people for the most part but my favorite type of photography is landscape.  Not because I think I’m any good at it, it’s because landscape photography is personal, it’s a recording of something bigger than us. It’s a lot of work, takes persistence, it requires us to take long drives, wake up early and we must come to grips with disappointment when the light doesn’t do what we want it to do.

I just wanted to pass along a few tips I have picked up along the way from failing on my own and learning from those better than me! Never stop learning!!!!

#1 Use a tripod


When it comes to landscapes, if you don’t have a tripod then you are wasting your time! Landscapes require longer exposures and careful planning of both composition and exposure. A tripod will give you a better opportunity to think through your shots and give you sharp usable photos!

#2 There are really only two times a day to get a great landscape photos


I had to learn this lesson the hard way, I hate getting up early. The times to get a great landscape is from about 30 minutes before the sun comes up to maybe 20 to 30 minutes after it clears the horizon, after that it’s really hit or miss. The second time is just before sunset to anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes after the sun is gone.  This last time is the hardest to grasp, after the sun sets it can be as long as 20 minutes before the magic happens. How many times have you left a spot because the sun went down and the sunset was very ho hum… Only to look in the rear view mirror of the car to see an amazing show of color in the sky miraculously appear… Look at famous landscape shots from your favorite photographers and you will notice the sun is almost NEVER present, it was done for a reason.

Be patient and use a small aperture (f/18, f/22 or smaller) and a very slow shutter speed (most early morning pics require at least a 2 second exposure, I’ve taken landscape exposures as long as 20 seconds. These long exposures are required when shooting digital to gather the data required to give you what you are looking for, remember you’re not shooting film anymore.

#3 Foreground, middle ground and back ground


This idea was drilled into me by my photography mentor John, “take a photo that was missing any of these three elements and you just have a snapshot” he would always say. It took many years of failing and thousands of snapshots later to really understand what he was saying.

Every time you try and create a work of landscape art make sure there is an interesting element in the foreground, then look at your middle ground to see if it works followed by the background. When foreground, middle ground and back ground come together in the same photo you have a masterpiece! Don’t take my word for it, search the internet for great landscapes or crack open a book and see if I’m not right…


As portrait photographers we can learn from landscape photography and incorporate these things into our portraits to get some amazing results!

Here is the proof…

Nobody does this better than my friend, landscape master and amazing teacher Brian Rueb, check out his work here and notice how often he includes all three elements: http://brianrueb.smugmug.com/ Brian also instructs at the Aperture Academy if you desire to learn more about landscape sign up for one of his workshops HERE.

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