Landscape Photography Yorkshire Dales

5 Simple Steps to Capture Great Landscapes

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Do You Struggle to Capture a Landscape’s Full Beauty?

Even if you find a stunning landscape location, and arrive at the right time… you still have to manage your camera settings and discover the most suitable place to shoot from before shooting amazing landscapes.

On the outside landscape photography looks simple, but anyone who’s attempted it realises it’s not as straightforward as discovering a beautiful location.

Landscape photography, Glencoe, Scottish highlands
Landscape shot taken in Glencoe in February 2020. Location selected by online research.

In fact, top photographers capture stunning photographs for the majority of the time in the most mediocre locations in their own style.

Because they know:

  • Make sure they know what to do in various weather and lighting situations
  • Composition techniques they can use in any scene
  • How to set up their cameras perfectly to capture stunning landscape shots

You don’t have to be a professional to produce fabulous results. Far from it.

How can I capture the best picture?

All you have to do is follow a simple five-step process…

With this simple yet effective, five-step process, I was able to capture the best landscape photography images with quality each time you go out on a shoot.

Step 1 – Location Scouting

I used to neglect location scouting, leaving it up to chance. But by the time I’d find the perfect landscape location I wanted to shoot from, the best light conditions had passed and the weather had changed, and the moment had passed.

When you master location scouting, you’ll never arrive at a location and think… “dang, wish I was over there instead.”
Tips to help: Recent books I’ve used for scouting was a book by Justin Minns entitled Photographing East Anglia and another by Chris Gilbert entitled Photographing the Peak District

Step 2 – Weather

You can’t control mother nature. But you can plan your shoots around her, and get magnificent photos regardless of the weather conditions. 

Many photographers shy away from adverse weather, but this produces some of the most dramatic scenes. And when you seek this out, your landscape photography will transform.
Tips to help: Clear Outside is a handy app in predicting the weather, particularly when an early morning start is required to capture a summer sunrise shoot.

Seascape photography Felixstowe
Captured over the port of Felixstowe in February 2020. This storm blew in unexpectedly.

Step 3 – Time of Day

Scouting the best time of day can make or break a shot. To capture the shot below, I watched the sunrise time in the week proceeding the shot; it was also essential to know the precise position for a window of opportunity of fewer than 10 minutes. Predicting the weather was also a big consideration as I also wanted the mist in the shot, this brings together all three elements so far.

Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, there’s an opportunity to shoot stunning landscape images every day.

Tips to help: Photo Pils is a very handy mobile app which was used here to predict the precise time and location of the sunrise.

Sunrise landscape on River Cam Cambridge
5:00 am start to capture this sunrise shot over Cambridge in late summer

Step 4 – Composition

It’s difficult to capture stunning landscapes when you only have background knowledge of one or two rules of composition.
Landscape photography mistakes can easily be rectified with a little knowledge.

Tips to help: These 5 techniques will give you something to think about and assist you in improving your photo composition:

  • Rule of thirds
  • Foreground interest
  • Leading lines
  • Balancing elements
  • Symmetry and patterns

Step 5 – Camera Settings

To shoot the most consistently stunning landscape you need to understand how your camera settings interact and select the camera to Manual, don’t let the camera decide for you.

An important concept to understand is the exposure triangle this principle outlines the interaction between shutter speed, ISO and aperture.

Exposure triangle

Tips to help: Other items that will help you capture great landscape photos are:

  • Carry a tripod
  • Shoot in RAW
  • Use neutral density filters
  • Polarizing filter
  • Use the histogram to check the exposure
  • Most importantly take your time

Experiment and practice the points above. You only get consistency by doing something, make mistakes and correct them.

Further Reading

Interested to see more of my landscape photography images, then check our Landscape Gallery.
Like to learn more regarding long exposure photography to take images like these or yearn to take charge of your camera settings, then take a look at our Photography Courses or Workshops.

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