Landscape Photography Essentials

May 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Great Salt Lake Promontory Point

I've always thought, that if I want photography to be my career I was going to have to teach it. Lucky for me, I love to teach, especially a subject I am so passionate about. I want to be able to share the joy that I get directly from my passion in photography with others. I realize that photography isn't everyone's passion, and that everyone should find their own special something that makes them want to howl into the sky. Photography is mine. And I'd like to share that passion as much as possible. When I started this blog, and began learning the process of photography myself, I posted a lot more "how-to's" and "lessons" that hopefully helped other photographers grab the passion and learn a little in the process . This doesn't mean I've grown out of learning. Quite the opposite. The further I explore photography the more I realize I have to learn. Which is why I love it! The reason I'm writing this now, is to get back to the "lessons" and start teaching on this blog again. Afterall, if I want to do this and attempt to make a living at it, I must teach. Not only to earn a percentage of income, but to give back to the passion I love so dearly.

To begin, or restart using this blog as a place to learn about photography, I thought I'd start with some of the essentials. I've covered things like shutter speed and aperture (which you can read about here), but I want to get down to the things every serious photographer should know. My specialty is landscape photography, so I will be catering to that realm of photography. If you have suggestions for other photography niches or want to add to my basics, or you have questions, by all means, please add them to the comments section below. This should be a place of learning. And if you have a question, it's likely there are more out there with the same question. Also, I will most likely be adding to this list in other posts. This is just the basics.

Essentials for Landscape Photography:

1.     Use a Tripod. Nothing else is going to improve your landscape photography like mounting your camera to a tripod. I say this because most of the time, as a landscape photographer, you are shooting at sunset and sunrise, which requires a longer shutter speed. Usually, you are also trying to get as much in focus as possible, which requires a small aperture, thus affecting your shutter speed even more.

2.     Take the Camera Off the Tripod. This might seem like I’m contradicting myself, but the idea here is to get away from extending the tripod to eye level and shooting the same old composition. With the camera off the tripod, you have the freedom to get low, climb high, and get the exact composition you want without the hassle of the tripod. Then set up the tripod in the location and composition you found without it.

3.     Use Filters. I love my Singh-Ray filters. They are one of those things that really helped me take a giant leap photographically. They are as important to me as my tripod and I use them probably more. If you can’t afford Singh-Ray there are some cheaper alternatives, but you’re going to suffer a bit in image quality. I would highly recommend Singh-Ray filters. You simply can’t beat their optical quality.  

4.     Shoot in Manual Mode. I know it can be scary to shoot in manual mode, but if you want to get better at this, you’re going to have to start. It may be a “baptism by fire” learning experience, but you are going to have so much more control. If you’re scared, read your camera’s owner manual. At a recent seminar presented by Pictureline, Photographer Adam Barker said he reads his manual on the plane while going to a shoot.

5.     Layer. As in clothing. Bring warmer clothes than the current weather suggests. If I’ve learned anything about weather, it’s that it can change quickly. A nice 75 degree day can turn into a pretty chilly night. If you’re like me, your hands are going to go first. I always keep a light pair of gloves in my camera bag for this reason. If you’re shooting during the “Golden Hour” like you should be, the temperature is going to drop. There is nothing worse than having to stop shooting because you’re too cold. Layer up.

6.     Don’t Be Afraid to Shoot in the Rain. As I mentioned before, the golden hour is the time to shoot for landscape photographers. But it’s not the only time. Shooting before, during or after a storm has produced some of my most memorable images. Don’t be scared to take that expensive gear out in the rain, either. You’d be surprised what your camera can take. You still need to be cautious, but don’t let it scare you. Cut a hole in a plastic bag, put a UV filter on the front of your lens and get out there. One of the cheapest investments I’ve made is a 2-pack of plastic rain covers from OP-Tech. I’ve used them for everything, from wet environments to sandy environments.


I know I’ve only covered a portion of what is involved in landscape photography, but I think these are some of the most important. Sometimes we can forget the basics, so it’s always good to have a reminder.

Enjoy the long weekend, everybody! 


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Travel photographer and videographer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Available worldwide. Ready for hire. 

Tel. 801.232.2153.