How to Shoot landscape photography

Shooting landscape photography

Use your Canon to capture dawn in the British countryside or the daunting magnificence of the French Alps with landscape photography

← Works best with 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens

Landscape photography is one of the oldest and most widely appreciated forms of photography. Traditionally it explores the beauty of natural environments, such as dense forests, deserts and mountain ranges. Landscape photography isn't limited to nature; urban landscape photography can be just as awe-inspiring. As long as you can find a space that inspires, you can shoot landscape photography. It's also an easy style to get into, as all you need is a camera, a lens and a good eye for landscapes.

Lighting conditions
Here the photographer has waited for the sun to be behind them, allowing it to light the scene and better expose the perfectly blue sky against the snow white mountain peak

Picking a good lens
There is a benefit to building up the right kit when it comes to landscape photography. If you're looking for a lens specifically for landscape photography it's important that you consider your Canon camera's format sensor. Canon sensors come in two sizes; 35mm full frame and APS-C, which has a 1.6x cropped sensor. When shooting with the APS-C sensor there will be a magnification of 1.6x compared to a full-frame sensor. So, you'll want to consider a slightly wider lens when shooting landscapes with a cropped sensor, to counterbalance the 'crop factor'.

Shutter speed
The shutter speed has been slowed down to create a blurred effect. If this scene were shot with a fast shutter speed the harshness of the waves lapping against the shore would change the entire tone of the image


Top landscape edits

1 Post processing
Although it's best to achieve your effects in-camera, there is room to improve and correct parts of your image with post processing using editing software such as Photoshop.

2 Levels
The Levels tool can be used to reduce or increase the light levels of the shadows, midtones and highlights in an image, helping you to even out a shot's exposure.   

3 Color Balance
Adjust the colour balance of a shot to make key colours pop out of the scene, most commonly these are the greens of the land and the blues of the sky.


When shooting landscapes you want the maximum depth of field possible, keeping everything in the scene as sharp as you can. This means shooting with a smaller aperture around f8 to f16. Because of this you don't necessarily need a lens with a high f-stop, which also keeps the cost of the lens down. Remember, when working with f-stops, the higher the number the larger the depth of field, meaning more of your shot will stay in focus. This is crucial when shooting the vast expanse of a landscape, so that you capture the whole scene.

Mountain range
The photographer has created a perfectly even exposure across the entire scene, despite the challenges that would have come from the snow and the sky being much brighter than the darker middle ground landscape


Composing a shot

1 Layering a landscape
In this image the foreground, midground and background are perfectly composed. The rule of thirds has been utilised so the eye is drawn to the key points of interest in the shot.

2 Foreground
The foreground should stand out in a landscape photograph, but don't let it dominate the scene. In this case the house and worker do help to complement the distant mountain range

3 Midground to background
By placing distance between the foreground and midground, then having the midground blend more seamlessly with the background, the shot feels as though it has a natural composition, without drawing too much attention to itself.


Extra equipment to consider
There are a few other pieces of kit worth investing in for landscape photography. If you would like to shoot with a slow shutter speed to created a blurred motion effect for different elements in the shot such as water or mist, then it's worth investing in a Neutral Density (ND) filter. ND filters restrict the amount of light going through the lens, meaning you can slow the shutter speed of your camera whilst still maintaining an even exposure.

Depth of shot
Depth is a key feature of this shot. The foreground, midground and infinite background of the shot has determined the composition of the image

A gradient ND filter can restrict the amount of light coming from certain parts of the shot. You can use a gradient ND filter to even out sky exposure (which tends to overexpose) compared to land. One more filter to look into is a polarising filter, which helps to reduce harsh glares from sources of light such as the sun or reflections, adding better detail to highlighted areas of your shot and adding intensity of colour. A polarising filter also helps protect your lens. Finally, a sturdy tripod is key for landscape photography. This will steady your camera when shooting with a low shutter speed, as well as helping you methodically set up your shot and wait for the perfect moment to start shooting.

Depth of field
A high f-stop has been used to give this shot the maximum amount of depth of field possible. The image stays sharp from the foreground right back to the trees in the far distance

Consider the elements
Weather is probably the biggest deciding factor when it comes to getting the shot you want, and getting the perfect light will make a big difference. A good time to shoot almost anywhere is just after sunrise, or just before sunset.

Bend the rules. This is flat with an overexposed sky, but these help make the photo stand out.


How not to shoot landscapes

In this shot the point of interest (the two trees in the midground) has been placed dead centre in the shot, ignoring the rule of thirds. Also by shooting the hills in the background front-on, the shot has absolutely no depth. The sky is unevenly exposed and most importantly the shot isn't even, creating a disorienting effect.


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