Improving your landscape photography

Improving your landscape photography

So you want to improve your landscape photography. This subject to me is not just a question one asks, works on it and then you are good to go. This is a life long pursuit! I’m a photographer but also a classically trained musician and the one thing they have in common is, you’re always learning. You are always honing your craft, learning new techniques and polishing others.


For the beginner, first and fore most, you have to learn your camera, the exposure triangle and how to properly expose your images. No matter what level you’re at what goes hand in hand with this is get out and shoot! Getting out there and shooting is crucial, you have to take a ton of bad photos to start taking good ones. I was cleaning out my backup drive one day and going through my old images and man, there are some bad ones. But, you can see a pattern over time and you see them start to take shape and improving.

One of the best things to make your photos better is shooting on a tripod. Very few times am I shooting hand holding my landscape shots, sure there are times you don’t have a choice and you do what you have to do. Not all of us can afford the $1,000 professional tripod and the $400 gimbal head. You get what you can afford and what will meet your needs. One helpful tool with your tripod is getting an “L” bracket, once attached to your camera, you plop if down in landscape and lock it in. Need to take an image in portrait, turn that puppy over and lock it in! There is no need to loosen your ball head and fight with getting it level and have it droop loosing valuable image area that you will lose having to straighten it out in post.

Time management is something that will also make you a better photographer. You know, you sleep in a little bit, rush to get your coffee, get your gear and run out the door. Finally you arrive and now your 20 minutes behind! You frantically wander around looking for your composition, settle on one, rip open your bag and slam your camera on the tripod. Oh my, I only have 2 minutes till sunrise and I can’t find my ND filter! We’ve all been there, but the truth is you have to manage your time, this starts even the night before. Plan where you are going to go, what’s the weather supposed to be? What direction is the sun going to come up in if that’s going to be part of your image.

All these things factor in to managing your time. I plan out where I want to be, if I’ve scouted the area and know compositions and where they are it makes my job a whole lot easier. I get up earlier than I need to, hike my way out to where I’m going to shoot, setup and take a breath. I know when the sun is coming up, take in my surroundings, judging the light and how its going to effect my subject. Do I need to adjust my white balance, do I need a polarizer and get ready to take my shot. Just doing these simple things can help you every time you go out to shoot.

Something I strive for is always being aware of my surroundings. I was taking an image of some coquina rocks with the sun coming up, the waves splashing in to them and got a great image. Once I was done I still had some time so I walked around looking for another composition. While walking along the beach I noticed this rim that the tide had left and it stopped me dead in my tracks. It was lit so beautiful framed by the rocks with the golden light bathing the composition. Had I been mindlessly wandering around I would have walked right in it and never seen the potential that was there.

Just talking about this stuff gets me all excited and thats what should drive us as photographers. It drives us to always be learning, how can I improve, what can I do better? Improving your landscape images is not always about the camera it involves everything that goes into the shot from the time your start thinking about where you want to go shoot. One app that helps me a lot is Sun Surveyor(http://bit.ly/2xKSdx9), it helps me see on a map or in live view where the sun or moon will come up and at what times. It tells me when the milky way will be most visible without the interference of the moon. What time the sun and the moon rise and set, the golden and blue hour, its an extremely useful application. I’m always using the weather apps planning my shoots with them. Two other apps I use are Clear Outside(http://bit.ly/2prj0uA), it helps me see low, medium and high clouds for where I’m going to be, especially if the low clouds might snuff out the light! Metro Earth(http://bit.ly/2O4ZDFH) I mainly look at to see wind direction, there are other things on there but I’ve not gotten into them and living in a coastal town I have to check my tide charts so I use a tide app. The other app I use for my long exposures I got from Deb Sandidge(@DebSandidge), its called NDTimer(https://apple.co/2MQLBm2), this is great since you tell it what your exposure is, ND filters if you have one or two and it tells you how long to keep the shutter open, it has a timer to help you as well!

These are just some small things that help me and I hope that they will help you with your photography. As always if you have any questions please contact me at tim@timwolakphotography.com. I hope to talk to you guys soon!

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