When I started landscape photography many years ago I thought my images were great, but looking back at them now I can easily see the many errors I made. Over time I improved but it was a slow and organic process. Check out these seven tips and don't make the same mistakes I did.
When I was recently going back through some images for a video I was producing for my YouTube channel, I thought to myself how good it would have been to know what I now know. Most of the things that improved my photography were simple, but it took me over 15 years to develop.
So I came up with seven things that I wish I had known back when I started. A lot of these are done for simplicity. Ultimately it is about getting the best image. If you spend 10 minutes setting up your camera you are likely to miss the light. Understanding some simple things will make you more efficient and improve your photography.
Here are two of the seven key tips that I found made the biggest difference.
1. Simplify Your Images
I had this light bulb moment about 10 years ago when I was looking through a landscape book by Joe Cornish (a British landscape photographer shooting in large format). I was trying to understand why his images were so powerful and beautiful. I was looking for that element that his images had that mine didn't. Then it clicked: it was the opposite way around. My images were always too cluttered, they had too much in them. As soon as I realized this and tried to remove elements that didn't add to a composition, my photography improved drastically.
Take these two images of the a beach in Whitby, England below. I saw the two walkers and the first image is what I would have usually taken. I quickly now realized that removing all the distracting elements in the frame by using a long lens would make a more powerful image.
Or these images below when I was skiing in the Alps. You can see that by removing the distracting elements and zooming in on the mountains, it creates a significantly more powerful image.
2. Stand to the Right a Bit (or Left, or Up, or Down)
I can't stress just how important this is. Until you actually see the difference 6 inches up, down, left, or right can make it is difficult to grasp. Composition is everything in a photo and even if you have a stunning subject and glorious light you can't get a great final image without all the pieces gelling together.
Small changes in positioning make huge changes in composition. Even tilting a camera down with a wide-angle lens on can be the difference between a killer shot and an average shot. This image shows this really well. You can see the difference moving 6 inches down and removing the distracting path made.
Check out the other five tips in my video above including the number one element in all landscape photographs.