Seven Myths About Landscape Photography That Might Be Holding You Back

There are lots of myths out there about photography that can end up holding you back if you listen to them, and it's important to avoid falling prey to them. This great video discusses seven such myths in landscape photography and sets the record straight on what it's really like.

Coming to you from Nigel Danson, this excellent video discusses seven myths surrounding landscape photography and how to avoid allowing them to hold you back. Of the myths, the two that resonate the most with me are location choices and beginner equipment. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can only make good landscape shots at epic locations, but that just simply isn't true. In fact, I think working with more normal locations can make you a better photographer simply because you aren't presented with readymade shots nearly as much. On another note, landscape photography is absolutely a genre in which you can use more budget-oriented gear and still create great results, so don't feel discouraged if you're not shooting with the latest and greatest, and try not to succumb too much to gear temptation. Practice is what will give you the biggest steps forward. Check out the video above for Danson's full thoughts. 

And if you really want to dive into landscape photography, check out "Photographing The World 1: Landscape Photography and Post-Processing with Elia Locardi." 

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19 Comments

Terry Waggoner's picture

If you really like shooting landscapes check out the rest of Nigel Danson's youtube videos.................he likes to impress on you the needs for composing your shots.

Did I miss the location myth in the video? Seems like it wasn't there (but surely should be).

Alex Cooke's picture

My fault, I should have better clarified that it's one that's important to me personally.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I’m in the middle of watching this now, but I like that you mention needing epic landscapes as a myth in your article. Personally, I find these less impressive, because most of the work has been done for you. This isn’t to say they don’t need skill, they do, but I’ve personally found the more epic the landscape, the less work I need to do. When I’ve seen professional landscape photographers try something away from epic landscapes (flowers or city photography), it’s actually interesting to see them struggle to create compelling images. I think this might lead to more people believing the myth. I always encourage professionals to try shooting a simple subject, like tulips or daisies, and seeing how hard it is to make a solid image. I feel this challenge keeps the mind active. Most of my favorite images were not taken in epic locations.

Also, kudos to Nigel for creating some of his images with a dog running around, haha.

I couldn't get past his first tip. While he states, "...there's no other reason you need to put your camera on a tripod", people will hear, "...there's no other reason you should put your camera on a tripod" and nothing could be further from the truth. Maybe that's the difference between landscape photographers and landscape photography bloggers.

Nigel Danson's picture

Happy to respond but I don't quite understand you question? Can you clarify?

There wasn't a question but now that I have your attention...

First, I generally like your videos but I take great exception to the comment I'm referring to. Beyond the obvious need to stabilize your camera for slow shutter speeds and multi-exposure situations, a tripod makes you slow down and work methodically. Of course you can do that without a tripod but after you've been out a few hours, you probably won't. Speaking to your comment about compromising the composition, I typically don't set up the tripod until I've already decided on the composition. Having mounted the camera, afterward, I can study each part of that composition at length and make adjustments as necessary. Sometimes, the additional time spent studying the composition will result in my not taking the shot. It's not unusual for me to come back with nothing at all. That saves me from trying to make a "silk purse" out of a "sow's ear".

I realize everyone works differently and varying techniques work for each person but your blanket statement only represents your methodology, perhaps liberating some photographers but hobbling others.

Nigel Danson's picture

Completely get where you are coming from Pat. I think it can make you slow down and be more measured in your approach. When using a tripod I do find I take less compositions and always used to say exactly what you are. I just look at the evidence now and my best photos and there is no correlation between the quality of the photo and the camera being on a tripod. The evidence (for me) just isn't there. Having said that I am not saying a tripod isn't important just that it isn't needed all the time and as you say shouldn't be used until you have a good composition.

Ansel Spear's picture

"If anything, putting your camera on a tripod compromises the composition..."

Really? Is this man for real?

Nigel Danson's picture

Yep - for real! It compromises the ability to find good composition. I see it all the time on workshops I run. Whilst a tripod is really important on many occasions and most of my photos at dawn and dusk use a tripod it is the worse thing for finding good compositions.

Don’t you find the composition first and then use a tripod if needed?

Nigel Danson's picture

Yes Robert - it is the best way as you have freedom of movement.

Ansel Spear's picture

Absolute rubbish. A tripod may limit your ability to fine tune a composition, but not mine. Photography is about eyes, not equipment. If you find that the tripod limits your vision, find a new career.

Nigel Danson's picture

Hi Ansel - I do think that if you tried it you would be surprised. A lot of people on my workshops have the same opinion but then it improves their composition. And if not glad what you do works for you - that is the main thing!!!

Ansel Spear's picture

I don't disagree that a tripod is not a prerequisite of good landscape (or any) photography. I disagree with the broad statement that it compromises good composition.

When I taught photography 35 years ago, my tenet was that you must first educate the eye to identify the shot. Once you've done that, nothing will get in the way of compromising it. Not even the tripod. If you can't see the shot in the first place, even a camera may well hinder you from taking a good result!

Ansel Spear's picture

Quite perversely I was up at 0400 this morning to take a sunrise shot some 20 miles away. In both my haste and my failing faculties, I forgot to re-attach the L-bracket after returning from a 'hand-held' holiday! There was not a cat in hell's chance I could attempt the shot without a tripod, so I returned to the car, scene unsnapped and tail between my legs.

Tripod? Give the cheap camera, my cheap Canon not working, so I will be happy with the cheap camera.

One of the criteria for failing RPS submissions and competitions is burned out highlights, yet I don’t have a problem with this where it can be used for dramatic effect, like bright sparkling water from a low sun, or where the sun is in a composition. If you were to do the same scene in watercolour you would leave the paper untouched for the brightest highlights, and I see burned highlights in photos as the equivalent. What is your view?

Ps I don’t do Instagram, nor Facebook, sorry.

Nigel Danson's picture

Hi Robert - I have to say that I think RPS are a bit stuck in their ways. There are lots of reasons why you can have totally white areas. Maybe you may then slightly tone them in post. As long as the resulting image is pleasing then their shouldn't be rules like that.