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5 Common Landscape Photography Mistakes

April 7, 2019

As a landscape photographer, when you are out and about ready to get that awesome photograph, there are many small things you need to remember so that you don’t go away disappointed! With so many elements to remember, sometimes it’s the obvious things which are easy to forget. Here are some common landscaped photography mistakes that photographers often make in their landscape photos. Hopefully, it will provide you with some tips to avoid the same ones!

canon camera web fine art landscape photography

1. No stability – Use a tripod

So there are of course times when a blurry image will provide a nice abstract, artistic result, however when taking landscape photographs you really want to have an image that is super sharp. When I say sharp as well, I mean throughout the image. So you will most likely need to use a slower shutter, low ISO and a medium speed aperture. The best way to end up with a sharp image is obviously to keep the camera as still as possible. Therefore a steady and solid tripod is critical to this.

As I’ve mentioned before, I use a Sirui tripod, and the model is actually the W-2204 which is a waterproof tripod. It is made out of carbon so it is light, however, it is still rock solid. It also has the ability to adjust the legs at various angles as it is unlikely you will ever be able to find a perfectly flat platform to shoot from, well unless it is a man-made lookout.

There are different tripods for different purposes of course as well. If I am travelling overseas and need to pack a bit lighter I will take a travel tripod that isn’t as sturdy, however, I can compensate for that with things like using the hook in the centre of the tripod and attaching my camera bag to weigh it down and keep it still. Bottom line, my advice would be to buy the best tripod you can, as you will be keeping it for a long time if it is the right one, otherwise, you will soon find yourself wanting to upgrade to a more steady one.

Most cameras these days will allow you to control the shutter via a remote release, either via one that is plugged in via a cable or a dedicated remote. This will also allow you to remove any camera shake from when you push the shutter release button. A cable release will also be required if you are doing long exposure photographs at night, such as of the milky way/stars as you may find yourself doing long exposures, perhaps even up to 30 minutes, like my Lone Tree Vortex photograph I took in the outback of Central Australia.

Hopetoun Falls Victoria, Australia landscape photograph preview

2. Crooked horizon

While this can be corrected in post-production it is so much easier if you can correct it on the spot, and that is keeping your camera level so that the horizon is straight. The issue though is that when you have to fix it, you may need to crop out part of the edges as you straighten it in post.

Many good tripods will have a spirit level built into the tripod so that you can make sure it is level, but also cameras often have a built-in level so you can ensure it is level before you take your shot. Combine that with using the viewfinder screen in live mode and you can quickly adjust the tripod so it’s nice and level.

3. Try Portrait orientation 

Often when people are taking a landscape photograph, they think it needs to be in ‘landscape’ or the horizontal orientation. Often though a portrait photograph will work better, especially if there is some interesting foreground or spectacular sky to include.

Usually, when I am shooting I will try both horizontal and vertical orientations to provide a variety of options later on.

Glen helen gorge northern territory vertical landscape photograph

4. Use of Empty Space

When taking a photo usually its important to follow the rule of thirds, however sometimes that doesn’t always provide the best results. For example, if you are filling a third or more of the photo with a flat sky that is uninteresting then it may actually result in an uninteresting photograph overall. If the sky is doing nothing in particular then look for a different angle and make sure you are filling the frame with something interesting in the foreground.

The same also applies if there is a very interesting sky, perhaps an amazing sunset and there isn’t much happening in the foreground, fill more of the frame with the sky.

5. Using the wrong aperture

If taking a photograph of a typical landscape scene there will often be a large depth of field in the shot, ranging from the foreground all the way to the distant horizon. As such it is important that the correct aperture is being used. If taking the photograph at f/2.8 then only a small part of the scene will be in focus, where using a f/8-f/11 setting will provide a more balanced representation of the scene with a greater amount in focus.

These are just a few things that need to be considered, make sure you take a minute to check them when you are next out trying to get that spectacular landscape photograph!

Philip Island Marina landscape photograph

Philip Island Marina Landscape Photograph

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