There are a lot of different factors that will impact the quality of your landscape photos, and there are many things to keep in mind when setting up a shot. This article serves as a checklist that you can use to help in the process of capturing your own landscape and nature photos. We’ll break down the process from start to finish in 15 different steps. The end of the article also includes a card that you can print out to keep with you for reference. Follow these steps and you’ll surely see results.
1. Get to Know the Location
Being prepared and scouting the location is a big part of having success as a landscape photographer. While there will be times when you are just out shooting without having time or the opportunity to prepare, in most cases you will be able to know ahead of time where you will be shooting. Planning ahead and scouting your location allows you to have an idea ahead of time about the subjects that you want to capture and the types of shots that you would like to get. Preparing ahead will save you time in the field, allow you to take advantage of short windows of the best lighting and conditions, help you to avoid missing out on the best opportunities, and allow you to get more out of your time in the field.
Whenever possible it is best to scout your location in person ahead of time. Many photographers use mid-day hours when lighting can be harsh to scout for sunset and sunrise opportunities. This allows you to go right to the best spots before sunset and sunrise so you won’t miss the best shots, and it helps you to make any time of the day useful regardless of the lighting conditions. If you’re unable to scout the location in person ahead of time, or if you want to research before traveling, there are a number of websites and apps that can be helpful for scouting locations.
2. Arrive Ahead of the Best Light
Lighting is obviously a critical element for landscape and nature photography, and most photographers prefer to shoot during the hours shortly before and after sunrise and sunset. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to your preferred spot ahead of time so you don’t miss out on the best light. Arriving early will allow you to do a little bit of last minute scouting if needed, and you can set up your gear and your shot so you are ready when the best light occurs. And if you are photographing at a popular destination arriving early may be needed to beat the crowd so you can get a spot that gives you the view that you want.