I have made a good amount of mistakes in my career as a landscape photographer. Luckily, I have learned to identify these mistakes and how to avoid them.
When I say mistakes, I talk about them in the broadest possible way such as missed opportunities, compositional mistakes, and underestimating certain conditions.
Do Not Pack Up!
The first mistake to avoid is packing up just after sunset. It is easy to look at the landscape and think it is flat and boring just after sunset when it was dynamic and vibrant due to the light from the setting sun a few minutes earlier. I and many other landscape photographers have done the mistake of packing up and going home, once the show is over. There is just one problem; often the show is only halfway done. Give it a few minutes and the blue hour kicks in and you can get some beautiful tranquil photos.
Do You Use the Seasons?
Another mistake is to not use the seasons to your advantage. There is usually always something worth photographing in nature. When it is Milky Way season photograph the Milky Way, when the heather blooms, photograph the heather, and when snow falls from the sky it is time to grab your winter clothing and get out!
Less Optimal Conditions
I often find myself to not bother going out if the forecast does not predict optimal conditions. After all, I have plenty of other things to do although I always enjoy getting out into nature. I do however find, that I often find something to photograph anyway or the conditions I am given give me something I could not have imagined. In the below photo, I never got the fog I wanted but I had not imagined I would get the high contrast light beaming in through the canopy catching the wild garlic, which gave a beautiful light show.
Avoid The Mess
One of the biggest mistakes you can do in landscape photography – or any other kind of photography is to include too much mess. By mess, I mean distracting elements, which do not add anything to the photo. It can be footprints in the sand, it can be fallen twigs in the forest floor, or as in the below example uneven snow throughout the scene. Spots of snow on the foreground trees and spots of dirt on the forest floor. The foggy morning photo is much simpler and less messy. So avoid the mess!
Are You Forgetting Something?
Over the years, I have taken a ton of photos and the vast majority is just taking up space on my hard drives. Due to the pandemic, I have had more time to go through some of these old folders and I found that my perception of these photos has changed over time. I saw many more opportunities for finishing the photos and I even found that I have become better at post-processing, so I could both re-edit but also edit photos I was not sure how to approach before. You can see one such example here:
Underestimating Blue Skies
Blue skies generally have a bad rep in landscape photography and for good reasons. The midday light from a blank blue sky creates hard contrasts and dependent on your perspective and angle it usually creates a flat and boring landscape. However, you can definitely get some gorgeous photos outside of the golden hour. The below photo was taken three hours after sunrise, way out of the golden hour, but due to the fog lifting very late I got a beautiful atmospheric photo where the wet grass gave some fresh greens, which were complimented beautifully by the blue sky.
Not Seeking Out 'Bad' Weather
In the above video, I show several photos I have caught on days with “bad” weather. One of those photos is the one below, which was taken in the Faroe Islands. The heavy amounts of rain filled the big waterfall and the strong winds created a lot of turbulence and blew the water back up the mountain creating this fascinating phenomenon. If you look through my portfolio you will see I have a good amount of photos taken on days with “bad” weather from all my travels. So, be sure to see out storms and moody days.
Be sure to check out the video above for even more examples and let me hear in the comments, which mistakes you have made in your landscape photography career.