Learn the Optimal Camera Settings for Stunning Landscape Photography

Thinking of getting into landscape photography? Learn about the best camera settings and shooting techniques in this quick video tutorial.

Anyone who has ever wanted to nail a beautiful landscape photo will know that it’s never as easy as pointing a camera to a stunning scene and pressing the shutter. There’s a lot involved to getting the colors, tones, and sharpness right to give justice to the beauty of the scene. That, of course, means getting your camera settings right. If you’ve been wondering about the optimal settings and shooting techniques for landscape photography, you’re in luck, because we have just the quick but useful video tutorial for your reference.

In his video below, Italian fine art landscape photographer Attilio Ruffo, shares his tips on four main settings for landscape photography: metering, exposure, focusing, and shooting:

Ruffo first talks about the two main metering modes: spot metering, for making sure that the light is right on a specific part of the scene; and matrix metering, which he uses most of the time to get a balanced metering throughout the scene. As he mentions in the video, the former is useful if you have a specific focus (like an interesting foreground), while the latter is better if you want to accurately expose the entire scene. To maximize the matrix metering, he also uses a graduated neutral density (ND) filter to decrease the dynamic range of the scene and make the sky look darker and avoid it looking blown out.

Next, he discusses the exposure triangle for shooting landscape scenes. He also shoots in aperture priority when shooting landscapes, because it allows him to be in full control of the apertures that he uses, which is usually f8 or f11. This way, he is able to prioritize the sharpness of his image. As for the ISO, he simply uses the lowest native sensitivity of his camera (which is ISO 64 in his Nikon D810). This minimizes the noise as much as possible. Lastly, he just shoots with whatever shutter speed his camera sets in aperture priority mode, which doesn’t make a big difference because he uses a tripod anyway.

As for focusing, Ruffo prefers to focus manually using his viewfinder instead of the Live View mode, as he feels he is able to concentrate on his composition when he looks through the viewfinder. He also explains that manual focus allows him to set the focus on the elements that he specifically wants to capture.

Lastly, he shoots with the mirror lock-up mode to minimize the motion blur caused by vibration when handling the camera. With this mode, pressing the shutter button the first time makes the mirror move up and lock into position, and doing it the second time takes the picture. For this, he uses a remote shutter release to press the shutter the second time. If you don’t have these options, he recommends using the self-timer and set it to two or three seconds so you’re not handling the camera as it takes the shot. This is especially useful for shooting long exposures.

Do check out Attilio Ruffo’s YouTube channel for more of his photography tips.

Screenshot image from the video by Attilio Ruffo