We all have to start somewhere. No matter what skill or profession we’re in, or what kind of art or artistic expression we are specializing in, everyone has to learn the basics, one way or another.
It’s the case whether you’re picking up a stencil, a paintbrush, a pencil, or, in our case, a camera.
Having a good eye is a great start when it comes to photography, but it’s not going to make up for a lack of understanding of the fundamental techniques.
So, to help get you started on the right path, we’ve compiled a list of the most important photography techniques (see also: Forest Photography Techniques For Beginners)that you should know. From Apertures to Leading Lines, we have you covered with tons of helpful notes and advice here!
Getting A Good Camera
It’s a simple point, and one that pretty much everyone reading this will have thought of. It might even feel a little insulting to bring it up.
Having a good camera can make the difference between an amazing, career-defining shot, and an unreadable blur. But honestly, it also depends on what level of photography you’re working aiming for.
If you’re simply choosing photography as a hobby for now, or starting with amateur tech, you’ll find that high-end smartphones are packing some surprising amount of power in them.
However, if you’re looking for something professional, you’ll want to choose some kind of dedicated professional camera.
Their more dedicated tech and power are still worlds above even the best smartphone camera right now.
In terms of actual specs, you’ll want to look for a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera.
Not only are their sensors more powerful and sensitive, allowing for a greater level of detail, but they also give you plenty of customization when it comes to exposure in your images (more on that later).
If possible, try and also get a camera with a 35 mm lens, giving you the widest possible shots.
Selecting Your Mid-Range Aperture
When looking for the perfect landscape picture, you’ll want to try and get the clearest and sharpest images possible.
The entire process of things that can affect how crisp an image is could fill its video (some of which will appear in this list later).
But one of the biggest factors that can change the exposure or clarity of an image is the aperture that your camera is using, the point in the camera where light travels into the system.
When starting, the differences between the apertures can be quite intimidating to try and unpack, so the best way to get started is by using a mid-range aperture.
If you’re looking at a landscape view with a relatively flat composition, a midrange aperture focusing point is a great palace to start from.
The best way to find a mid-range aperture is to start two or three levels above the lowest or smallest setting (for many cameras, this tends to be f/8). Any lower or higher, and you’ll likely find that your image loses some of the subtle details
Of course, simply going midrange for every shot isn’t ideal, especially when you have objects and points of interest in a picture that is close or far range. Picking a midrange aperture will just result in a subpar shot and detail at both ranges.
However, an aperture in the middle range will allow you to narrow down and experiment with other levels further, so it’s worth identifying what the mid-point is for your camera’s aperture.
Even then, you can get some interesting effects by employing midrange apertures, such as a flare of light from the background against the foreground.
Good Locale Research
This is one that anyone can practice, without trying to even purchase anything new.
When it comes to getting good pictures, you’ll want to find a landscape that is beautiful to take pictures of in the first place!
Doing the legwork of finding places that could be nice or interesting to take a picture of is one of the best ways to get started.
It gives you tons of locations to pick and choose from and helps you unpack and understand what exactly it is you want to capture in your pictures.
That way, you don’t spend hours trying to find the perfect composition on-site, while precious light is fading away.
You don’t even need to go far afield to find stunning scenery, usually. While the far-flung corners of the world or country are always enticing, a little research might show a place close to you with amazing potential.
These are the sorts of factors that can be figured out and learned about in your research!
Grabbing A Good Lens
Like a good camera is a vital piece of equipment, an important piece of equipment that your camera is going to need is a sufficient lens.
As we’ve mentioned the need for a good lens already, we’ll try and keep this one brief. Stick to wider lenses that allow you to capture more of a landscape in a single shot.
These wider lenses have smaller focal points that allow them to take in more details, so a smaller lens length will usually signify and stronger and higher-quality lens and image produced.
35 mm is generally considered the largest and least focused for high-end cameras, while 24 mm gives a strikingly clear and wide image, usually at quite a high cost.
Picking A Low ISO
If you’re looking to reduce the amount of exposure that your pictures are getting in your camera, then you’ll need to find a camera or lens with low ISO.
ISO refers to how sensitive your camera lens is to light and exposure, and how that changes the final resolution and clarity of an image.
A camera or lens with a high ISO will produce an image that will appear noticeably grainier than lower ISOs, so finding a camera that has a low ISO is critical.
Generally speaking, you want to be looking for a camera that has an ISO between 100 and 400, which is the range that most good quality products sit at.
However, keep in mind that ISO will also affect the shutter speed and aperture size, with both of them often being larger and slower at lower ISOs, respectively.
Overall, don’t use lower ISOs if it compromises other aspects of a photograph. Try to find a good balance between all these factors.
The Right Light Makes All The Difference
You’ll notice this whenever you take a picture with a bright light source in the background. Often, it can ruin a picture, or give you the perfect lighting that you are looking for.
Lighting is often THE key detail to taking good pictures, landscape or otherwise, so you’ll need to take into consideration where the light source is coming from in your image, and whether your camera can adapt to the exposure or ISO that it affects your camera lens with.
This is also an aspect that you will have the least amount of control over when photographing landscapes. You don’t have the luxury of controlling where a light source is coming from in the great outdoors, unlike in a studio setting.
However, there are other things that you can affect. Changing the angle from where you’re taking the picture can often affect the exposure you’ll get in your image, by avoiding surfaces that directly reflect light strongly into it.
There’s also the time of day that you’ll need to consider. The golden hour for taking pictures of landscapes is around sunrise or sunset, but these are often very short windows of time, so make sure that you’re up bright and early, or prepared to stay out taking pictures a little later.
Tripods Are Your Friends
Many people, when trying to get the perfect still image of a landscape, will often try and hold their camera as still as possible.
This usually works fine with the object of life photographs, such as sports or journalistic photos.
But if you’re trying to take a picture with a much wider focus, such as a large building or, in our case, landscapes, even the steadiest hand will still shake and blue some details.
For this reason, when going out into the field to capture photos, having a tripod handy is always a great idea to keep in mind.
They both keep every detail of your picture looking as clear as possible, with no camera shake and can help you adjust to lower ISO levels without ruining the picture.
When looking for a tripod, avoid cheaper models. These tend to be a lot less tough and durable, and won’t last long being carried around, especially with other equipment.
While many photographers try and look for a photograph that is as close to life as possible. However, you may find that the landscape pictures that you like the best often have a little something extra added to them.
Everyone will be aware of what filters can do for a picture at this point, so try and play around with different ones for your camera, especially polarizing filters, which can help affect the colors present in a photo in interesting ways.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of fundamentals that you’ll need to get to grasp as a photographer.
However, if you follow these points at least, you’ll find that the quality of your photos will skyrocket!