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Landscape photography: 3 common mistakes to avoid

Instead of saying: “do this in this way”, “do that, but be careful because you should do it like this” etc. sometimes it can be helpful to say exactly what not to do.

So here we can learn what mistakes to avoid and common things you don’t want to do when it comes to landscape photography.

There are common mistakes, and not only beginner’s mistakes, that can screw up your photos. However, if you know in advance what to do, you can easily avoid them and achieve the desired results.

One thing to keep in mind, when shooting, is that you want to convey the feeling you experienced in front of a certain view. Observing a picture is very different than being in the location itself. So, make sure you focus on the feeling, on your personal view of the scene. What did it mean to you? How did it make you feel? Your shots should answer those questions.

Only by following this concept will your images look authentic and unique.

landscape photography

Lake Tahoe

  • #1. Too much of everything

This is the first error because when there’s too much of everything, you can’t see anything. Instead of trying to fit everything in the frame, ask yourself which element gives the most character to your landscape and make sure you include that and give it importance by keeping it clean and tidy, nothing extra. Think zen!

Often what is sought in a landscape shot is to obtain an image that conveys a sense of majesty and vastness. If this is the goal, it is almost always a question of the relationship between what you have in the foreground and what is in the background. For example, if you photograph a mountain, however fascinating and immense it may be, it will look flat if it is not related to elements in the foreground. It could be rocks, plants, flowers or even just a green lawn. Inserting these elements in the composition allows you to create a connection between them. And this translates into a composition with greater depth.

  • #2. Make sure the horizon is level

This is a simple thing which means that it is really essential. Nothing is more disturbing to the eye than a sloping horizon. It is also a sign of neglect that can be easily avoided with minimal effort. There are no excuses. Do not evaluate with your eye, use a tripod and a level.

Speaking of horizon, it is important to notice that the lines that make up a frame can help convey different moods. This is especially true in landscape photography. For example, the prevalence of horizontal lines gives a feeling of relaxation and serenity. Conversely, the prevalence of vertical and diagonal lines conveys dynamism. An image in which ascending and descending lines dominate over the horizontal ones will have a vigorous mood.

landscape photography

Bryce Canyon

  • #3. Don’t spoil the exposure

Exposure is a key factor in photography and even more so in landscape photography where the various levels of the view can present different conditions. The challenge is that if you expose for the sky, the foreground can be too dark and if you expose for the foreground, the sky can be burnt and the detail lost. One of the solutions to overcome this problem is the use of filters. Your goal as a landscape photographer is to make sure that all the elements in the shot are exposed correctly, so that maximum detail is revealed.

Each landscape – according mostly to available light conditions – requires specific camera settings in order to be captured in a way that truly reveals its beauty.

As for the exposure, to work on the balancing of areas of shadow or excessive light, you need to adjust the shutter of your camera. Slow it down when there is low light or speed it up when there is too much light.

If you shoot in aperture priority mode, the digital camera has a special the exposure compensation feature which allows you to impact directly on the exposure, to increase and decrease the value, until the desired combination is reached.

I also advise you to set the white balance manually so as to find the ideal gradation for the landscape you have chosen based on the available light conditions.

landscape photography

River Hills California

And in conclusion…

Having said that, it is true that knowing how to proceed allows you to avoid errors that can compromise the results of your photographic outputs, but this does not mean that you have to restrain yourself from the fear of making mistakes. In fact, it is thanks to practice, experience and therefore also thanks to mistakes that you learn. The more you practice, the more your skills will improve and it will be easier for you to create successful images. Not only technically correct images but also capable of conveying strong feelings.


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