Efficiency is probably not something that many landscape photographers think about. The joy of being out in the wilderness, enjoying the scenery while taking photographs, is what attracts many to this genre. However, if you are a bit pushed for time and still want to create great images then you may have to approach things slightly differently. This is not to say that you should be in a rush. Just make sure you are using your time effectively and planning your shoots well beforehand.
Use Google Earth to find great viewpoints
Google Earth is one of the greatest gifts to landscape photographers ever. You have the ability to sit in the comfort of your own home (or maybe your desk at work) and explore the landscape in 3D!
By using this technology you can effectively put yourself in the landscape and roughly work out where good compositions might be found. Visualising the topology will also help you to predict how light might fall on the land at different times of day.
Get these apps to help you
Having a few good apps on your smartphone is really going to help with planning your landscape photography shoots. Here are some that you may wish to consider.
This app can be a great help when deciding on the best time to visit a location. Being able to visualise the weather systems and make accurate predictions is invaluable. Get this app and make sure to start using it – it will save you from disappointment.
This is one of the most popular photography apps on the market, and for good reason. It has so many great tools that you would be foolish not to have this on your phone. To name a few:
- Sun direction
- View location of sun and moon at any time of day
- Visualise the milky way an stars with the 3D overlay feature
- Display the length of shadows at any location on map
- Drop markers on the map for locations you wish to visit
Dark Sky Finder (IOS)
If you are planning on capturing landscapes at night with only the stars to light your sky then this app is really going to help you. Find locations that have minimal light pollution can be a tricky task. With this app you will be able to easily visualise the sky around the locations you want to shoot and make an informed decision about where best to set up a shot.
Coastal photography can be a tricky one to get right as there are a lot of parameters to play with, Not only are you depending on good weather, but tidal movements are also going to play a part in getting the perfect shot. Get this app to help plan the right time to head out with your camera.
Scout locations before you plan to shoot them
Once you found locations to visit – visit them. It can be tempting to only head to a location when you actually plan to photograph it. However, if you can spare some time beforehand then it is always best to scout the area prior to shooting it. The time of day and weather conditions don’t matter in this case. All you are looking for is a good composition.
While you are scouting the location make sure you look at the topology as well as the trees, rocks and anything else that might effect how light will fall. This will give you an idea of what time of day would be best to visit.
It is worth taking a few photos while you are there so that you can analyse them when you get back to a computer. This will give you more time to decide on the best way to photograph the scene.
Watch the weather
Different weather patterns provide different conditions for photography. If you have a particular idea in mind of themood and lighting you want in your images then make sure you head out when the weather suits this. Certain regions can be difficult to predict but having a rough idea is better than having no clue at all. Weather apps such as WeatherPro (IOS and Android) are brilliant for keeping an eye on what is happening.
Carry only what you need
It can be very tempting as a photographer to fill your camera bag with everything you own “just in case”. Stop making this mistake. By doing so you are only going to weigh yourself down and create hassle for yourself. Take anything that you really think you need but be vigilant in removing any unnecessary from your camera bag. This way you’ll have much less to worry about, allowing you to focus more of your attention on getting great photos.
Keep your camera accessible
Being able to quickly look through the viewfinder of your camera without having to stop and take your camera out can really help when searching for compositions. Obviously you will still want to keep your camera safe while on the move. For this reason hand-holding your camera everywhere you go isn’t ideal. Camera straps can be quite irritating if worn for long periods of time and allow your camera to swing around and hit things. Instead check out some of the options below.
A camera harness can work well if you want to keep your camera tethered to you but don’t want it to swing around freely. This will allow you to keep both hands free while on the move. Unlike a regular camera strap these are far more comfortable to wear and use.
Camera bag clip
Another great option is to mount your camera to the strap of your camera bag. This way it is always within reach and is safe from bashing into things as you walk around.
Get there before the light hits
Lastly, make sure you get to your locations early. #Chasingthelight might make for a good hashtag but in reality you want to be prepared. It is always best to have enough time to set up your camera properly. Working this way will ensure you get more photos to choose from and even allow you to shoot multiple compositions without fear of missing “the moment”.
So there you have it. Some great tips that will help you get the most out of your landscape photography shoots. Make sure you plan, take the right amount of kit and arrive early. This way you are bound to more photos worth keeping.
If you are planning a landscape photography adventure then check out this article for more advice: Your guide to planning a landscape photography trip