It rained all Friday night. I was exhausted from work. I collapsed into my bed, but set an alarm for 6AM.
There are two days a week I can sleep in. I ruined one of them. Why? Because I had to take this photo:
I love this photo, and I could never have gotten it unless I got up early and got my ass to the right spot. It was only really about 10 minutes of prep:
- I looked up when the sun would rise – something like 6:42. I needed to get there a bit before that to set up.
- The sun rises in the east, but I had to remember that it’s a bit further south in the winter.
- I looked over maps of the area to see what the best east-by-southeast vantage point would be.
- Since I’m familiar with the area, I quickly narrowed it down to the best couple spots.
And honestly, this is easy stuff compared to what some landscape photographers do. Here’s the important part: lighting changes 24/7. If you want an interesting photo of a landscape, you have to be in the right spot, and at the right time.
Warm clothes are absolutely part of the gear a landscape photographer needs. I’m no expert, but little things can make a big difference. Get there early for the sunrise or on time for the sunset – that’s normally the two most interesting lighting conditions. (Or, stay there for a while to see how it changes.)
So here are some basic landscape photography tips:
- Have a plan. This includes where, when, and a backup spot.
- Get there early and stay there late.
- Timing is still everything. Just because it doesn’t move doesn’t mean your opportunities are fleeting.
- Try to be there during sunrise or sunset – more often than not, that’s the most interesting lighting.
- If you’re including the sky, I think the best amount of clouds is “some but not too many.”
- More technical tips:
- Shoot around f/8.0 to get a large depth of field and have everything in-focus.
- Using a polarizing filter is a good idea.
- If you have the sun, expose for the area around the sun. Then lighten the shadows in post-processing.