1. Take Time to Observe
When you end up deciding to explore a new destination, spend time scouting then familiar area. Drive or hike along designated paths to different locations, observing the scene from different vantage points.
2. Lines are the Leaders
Whenever possible, compose your photo using natural lines that lead into the rest of the scene. These lead-in lines are those that start in the foreground and guide the eye across the frame.
3. Where’s Light Not Falling?
Shadows play as important a role as light does in many situations. A rock formation in Utah, for example, will be lit better on it’s west side in the morning and on it’s east in the evening. The difference between the light and dark side will be so great, that the shadow may render in your camera as a black blob. This can possibly eliminate some of the detail that would otherwise be there, even after post-production.
4. Train Your Mind to Trust Your Eye
As our eyes gloss over a view, they focus on specific, appealing point of a landscape scene. Keep in mind that our natural field of vision absorbs a lot of information at the same time, but trust your intuition to pick out the focusing points of a scene. This can include a flowing river, waterfall, small building, peak of a mountain, etc.
5. Frame with Dimensions
Depth in your photo can be achieved by combining objects in the foreground, middleground and background of the scene. For example, an overhanging tree branch can naturally frame the image and give it a sense of three-dimensionality.
6. Simplicity is Key
Keeping the last tip in mind, compose your image in a way that excludes elements that do not add to the image.
7. Use a Tripod
This should be a no brainer, but mounting your camera onto a tripod is essential for successful landscape photography. Most landscape portraits require complete camera stillness in order to sharply capture the image. This is due to the longer shutter speeds, and small apertures used to catch detail and blur any flowing water or moving clouds.
8. Always Shoot in RAW
A no-brainer over time. This will allow for more information to be registered once a shot is taken, giving you more flexibility when it comes to post-processing.
9. Hands-Off Shooting
Use a cable release, wireless release, or the self-timer on your camera to capture the image. This ensures that the camera is completely still, allowing for maximum sharpness in the image.
10. Go With Wide-Angle
The bulk of landscape photography involves capturing the enormity of a view. For this, a wide-angle lens is a must. Most lenses on a full-frame camera with an effective focal length of 50mm and below are considered wide-angle. The lengths of 21mm and 24mm are popular choices. If you have APS-C camera (Nikon DX series, for example,) then anything below 35mm is wide-angle. The lengths of 14mm-16mm are optimum for landscapes with this type of camera.
11. Pile On the Exposures
Having trouble achieving sharpness throughout a whole picture? Try taking the same picture twice, once with the foreground in perfect focus, and another with the background in focus. Use the live view feature on your camera to reach the level of sharpness you want on a specific area. Combine the two images using your preferred photo-editing software.