We get it: you find yourself perched on cliff, 50 feet above the most glorious landscape you’ve ever seen, or walking down a cobblestone street with a perfect row of 200 year-old houses. You are in awe, you stop and pull out your camera and shoot what has to be the greatest photograph ever taken. Then you look at it in your camera view/computer/lab and realize the awful truth: That’s not what I saw! That’s not the scene I witnessed! What happened?!
Sound familiar? Yup, happens to us all, but how can you side step this tragedy?
Take Your Time
Allowing yourself plenty of time and plenty of range will drastically change the way you are shooting landscapes. Most beginners believe that you see what the camera sees and unfortunately that is not the case. Make sure you are taking the photo from several different angles to allow yourself plenty to work with while editing and allow the camera to speak. Lighting and composition will change drastically with each shot.
Exposure, Exposure, Exposure
Sight is in the eye of the beholder and cameras are no different. While you may see a well lit horizon, your camera may see too much sun, reflections, shadows and other defects that your eyes cannot pick up. Make sure you are shooting at various times of day (peak times will vary by location, but always try for a sunrise/sunset shoot time to allow for the best natural light) and at different angles. Once again, this will allow you some extra working material in post production. And speaking of post production…
Drop The Bias…
You wouldn’t paint your home without going back over it and doing touch ups would you? So why wouldn’t you employ the same techniques with photography? So many artists want raw and untouched, but unfortunately your clients aren’t as interested. That shadow that fell incorrectly across the tree? Get rid of it. That blurred bird that unexpectedly became the focal point? Ditch him. Go over your photographs and understand what you are seeing as a whole photo and what you are wanting to convey to your viewer, are you accomplishing that well?
When we talk about landscape photography, we are speaking of a true landscape, a vast and wide moment in time. How can you possibly capture everything in that moment? Most don’t frankly. You use a wide angle to capture the entire portrait, but completely miss a focal point. Or they try to capture a focal point and completely miss what is happening in the foreground. It is truly best to understand what you are wanting to convey; a rock, a skyline, a storm rolling in, a herd of deer and focus. Do you really need an expansive sky in the foreground if the focus is the deer? If you are shooting a storm, why is the flat land taking up 75% of the photo? Make sure you are focus and then focus your camera.
Here are some additional tips on how to avoid major mistakes: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2013/07/10/10-common-landscape-photography-mistakes-every-photographer-makes/