One of the most important things to think about in landscape photography is your image’s location. It does not matter if your location is a super secret spot or a national park. It is important to find a vista that can make an interesting photo. It may take a little research, a walk around your town, or looking in your backyard, but before you compose your image, you have to find it.
Set a goal
When planning and thinking about a location, set up a goal. What type of environment – city, nature, land, or water – do you want to focus on? Which point of view would you like to compose your image and how far are you willing to travel? How much time do you actually have? How much detail do you want to show? What scale do you want to portray? These questions will help to make the rest of your decisions when setting up your landscape shots.
Know your surroundings. What is the weather going to be like? Have people shot there before? If they have, look at their images and try not to repeat them. The great thing is that the world is a huge place with many locations to shoot. No matter where you plan to shoot, make sure you check the weather reports for the area so you do not end up with just a five-minute break in the weather to shoot. Find all the popular areas to shoot, and try to avoid them to make your images stand out. Use the internet to find the popular times of year in the area so that you can maximize the experience. Check to see if there are any safety issues, and if you need to bring someone as a second pair of eyes, do so.
Do Not Copy
I repeat, if, in your research, you run across images of a location, do not try to reproduce those images. If you can carry along different lenses to see how they are going to influence the image, do so. Try to get high or low and look from as many different angles as you possibly can. You are doing all of this to make sure you have a unique perspective on the scene. If another photographer is in the area, don’t shoot from their position, find your own. It is more thought provoking to see a viewpoint of a subject that has not been photographed by others.
If you have the time, walk, drive, or bike around the area. Exploring an area is one of the cool parts of landscape photography. Finding that one location that no one else has generates that different perspective. Having a sense of where you are, when setting up a shot, will help you decide where to point your lens, so that you can have an interesting foreground and background. A little patience and willingness to explore goes a long way.
When planning landscape photography, size does matter. The scope of your image can be very intimate or exceptionally epic depending on how you choose your point of view. It you are trending towards a more epic image, try to give it a sense of scale by making the subject: a car, a person, structure, or even a toy. It will give your audience an understanding of the space which you created and image of.
Less People the better
To me, unless you are using them to give a scale to your scene, people are clutter. In landscape photography, you are creating an image of the space you are looking at. Too many people will get in the way of that, unless they are purposely in a shot. If you are taking a cityscape image, people are hard to avoid unless you know the dead time of an area. For example, I like to shoot in New York. My favorite time in the city is Sundays and Mondays between 4 am and 6 am. I found the city is at its most sparse during this time.
Nighttime or early morning
When shooting landscape photography in the extremely low light of the morning, evening or night, it is going to be a long exposure. This is where you will use your tripod, a flat surface, a remote or a timer. It’s very important to choose your location wisely because you’re going to want as little outside light interfering with your image while trying to maintain safety. If you can, don’t travel alone and have a cell phone.
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