My Top Ten Tips for Stunning Landscape Photography

  I was recently approached by Nature Friends Magazine owner and editor Kevin Shank and asked to write an article about my photography. The magazine has a monthly study guide section specifically for learning nature photography. I started thinking about what took my photography from good to great and decided to write about the techniques I learned that took my images to the next level. In this article I shared my top ten methods I use to make advanced and technical eye catching landscape scenes.

ONE: SHOOT IN RAW

  Shoot in RAW! What is RAW? Images are made up of bits of data. A RAW file contains all of that data in “raw” form. A jpeg is a compressed version of that raw file with the camera manufacturers built in adjustments to make the image more pleasing out of the box. Unfortunately, a jpeg only contains a fraction of the image data compared to a RAW file. By shooting in RAW, you will need to adjust your files manually on a computer. You will be able to achieve the best color and dynamic range, and have much more creative flexibility in turning the image into your masterpiece. Most cameras that have full manual settings have the built in ability to shoot in RAW.

mountains, clover, flowers, craggy gardens, landscape, sunset, wildflowers, focus stacking, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. Tiny clover flowers cling to the edge of a cliff overlooking the mountains during sunset. The rolling mountains stretched as far as the eye could see until they faded into the horizon. The wildflowers only stood a couple inches tall, forcing me to use an advanced landscape photography technique called focus stacking. By placing the front element of my lens very close to the flowers, I was able to emphasize this small element in nature and use it as an incredible foreground. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

TWO: GET CLOSER

  Get closer! Find a foreground element and get close to it to really emphasize your subject matter. When I first started photography you would find me standing straight up, holding the camera at eye level. Now more often, you’ll find me on the ground hunched over in some awkward position when taking photos. Sometimes my lens is so close to an object it forces me to use more advanced techniques in order to keep everything in focus, such as focus stacking.

craggy garden, flower, wildflowers, sunset, mountains, landscape, colorful, focus stacking, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. A yellow primrose bathes in the warm light from the setting sun high in the mountains during sunset. This tiny flower was growing out of a small crack in a boulder on the edge of a cliff overlooking mountains with panoramic views in every direction. This was the most beautiful flower in the craggy garden of wildflowers. These wildflowers only stood 4 inches tall, forcing me to use an advanced landscape photography technique called focus stacking. With the front element of my lens only a few inches from the flowers, I took multiple images with different focus points in order to obtain perfect sharpness from the foreground all the way to the background. This colorful sunset was captured using Sony Alpha cameras and lenses. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

THREE: GET TECHNICAL

  Get technical! Learn to focus stack, bracket your exposures, and take long exposures. These are techniques I use more often than not. Sometimes I’ll use all of these techniques on one single image.

craggy garden, tree, sunset, fern, glowing, illuminated, roots, yellow birch, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. An amazing yellow birch deep in the forest during sunset. The roots sprawled out in all directions across the boulder. A craggy garden of vibrant green ferns were tucked in between the roots and covered the forest floor around the tree. The sun setting behind the tree gave it a glowing, illuminated feel that stopped me in my tracks. One of the most beautiful tree pictures I've ever captured and a continuous best seller since its release date. This amazing tree was captured using Sony Alpha cameras and lenses. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

FOUR: FOCUS STACKING

  Learn to focus stack! When I’m really close to a patch of wildflowers for example, if I try to focus on the wildflowers then everything else behind the flowers becomes out of focus. Typically in landscape photography you want your entire scene in focus. By focus stacking, you can take images with varying focus points, then combine them in post processing to get a scene entirely in focus from foreground all the way to background.

lone, tree, sunset, flowers, wildflowers, asters, daisies, fleabane, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. This is one of the most incredible landscape photographs I’ve had the opportunity to capture. A tranquil moment I will never forget. It happened by pure accident. I randomly looked out my window while driving down a featureless stretch of highway and saw a lone tree far out in field with flowers around it. There was absolutely nothing else around for thousands of acres. Asters, daisies, and fleabane were sprinkled throughout the field. I positioned my camera so that the wildflowers lead directly towards the sunset with the tree standing center of the frame. One of my personal favorite landscape images and a best seller since it's release date. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

FIVE: EXPOSURE BRACKETING

  Bracket your exposures to maximize dynamic range! When I bracket my exposures, its usually because Im shooting directly into a bright source of light like the sun. To be able to expose the scene correctly, I’ll have to take exposures for each part of the scene to maximize my image data in post processing. I may take one exposure for the sun that’s underexposed, so that my sun isn’t “blown out” Then I’ll take a brighter exposure for my foreground so that my foreground isn’t too dark or “underexposed”.

la jolla, california, san diego, tide pools, sunset, pacific ocean, coast, rock formation, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. These rare rock formations on the California Coast are truly one of a kind. It’s an ethereal landscape you truly have to see to believe. Many people who see this image tell me it looks like something from another world. These tide pools near San Diego are some of the most unique in the entire world. I was able to capture this amazing sunset over the Pacific Ocean using using Sony Alpha cameras and lenses. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

SIX: LONG EXPOSURES

  Slow the shutter speed down! Taking long exposures can give waterfalls a silky smooth look, or clouds that appear to be streaking across the sky. A long exposure will also open up the realm of night photography. You’ll need a tripod and a remote shutter release, or a shutter delay to give the best results when shooting long exposures.

cascades, waterfall, composition, grass, long exposure, strength, simple, nature, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. The smaller scenes in nature hold so much beauty. I found this simple, elegant composition while exploring around some cascades on a rainy day. This vibrant red grass grew straight up from the rock next to a beautiful beautiful waterfall. Plants that grow on rocks and stones, or places that are not particularly suitable and fruitful symbolize strength. They use their strength to overcome the struggle of growing in odd places. This simple waterfall composition was captured using Sony Alpha cameras and lenses. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

SEVEN: SHOOT AT NIGHT

  Shoot at night! Astrophotography is one of my favorite genres of landscape and nature photography. I could talk forever about my adventures photographing the night sky. Unfortunately most of the eastern United States, and many areas around big cities out west have a less than ideal amount of light pollution for quality night sky photography. I use the website “dark sky finder” to view a map of light pollution around me. I usually try to shoot in an area that’s at least in the blue, if not darker. I use a special lens with a low aperture just for photographing the Milky Way.

milky way, night sky, astrophotography, mountain, lake, tree, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. I was instantly humbled when I saw the perfection of this scene. It has every element you could dream of in an amazing night sky picture. The Milky Way rises above a towering mountain peak with an alpine lake at its base, while two trees on each side of the image perfectly frame the scene. All of the elements lined up in perfect harmony to make this one of my personal favorite Milky Way pictures. I captured this crystal clear picture using Sony Alpha cameras with Sigma lenses specialized for astrophotography. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

EIGHT: INCLUDE A SOURCE OF LIGHT

  Include a source of light! The human eye naturally goes towards the brightest parts of an image. I’ll often try to include a source of light somewhere near the middle 2/3’s of an image. A source of bright light can often give your images a glowing look. When printed, this glowing look can often make your print seem as if its actually illuminated from behind.

alps, europe, france, Italy, switzerland, mountains, sunset, tour du mont blanc, wildflowers, flowers, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. I watched the sun slowly fall behind the horizon, painting the sky shades of yellow and orange. The last rays of light kissed the adjacent mountains with glowing beams of light. This amazing sunset in the French Alps was captured during my photography expedition in Europe through France, Italy, and Switzerland. I backpacked for 10 days on the Tour Du Mont Blanc through the Alps on a quest to find unique compositions of the mountains. I was able to capture this incredible landscape by kneeling down close to the patch wildflowers during sunset. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

NINE: CREATIVE VISION

  Creative Vision! Many of my best images were achieved by having an idea of what I wanted to achieve before I even went out to shoot. It might have been a branch off of an idea I saw in another photograph, or it might have been an idea that popped in my head while daydreaming at work. By having an idea of what you want to achieve before you go out shooting, you can focus on finding that perfect composition in order to make that dream come to life.

alps, france, europe, wildflowers, waterfall, Mont Blanc, tour du mont blanc, hiking, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. An unnamed waterfall surrounded by wildflowers crashes beneath towering peaks in the French Alps. I found this waterfall far away from any trails, deep in the backcountry on my hike around the Mont Blanc Massif. This is one of my favorite images I took while hiking the Tour Du Mont Blanc through France, Italy, and Switzerland. I’ve never seen this location photographed before and it holds a special place within me to have pioneered this new composition. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

TEN: JUST START SHOOTING

  Just start shooting! Don’t have a camera? Get started with your smartphone. I learned that I loved taking images by taking snapshots with my smartphone. I slowly started getting better and learning how to read the light and weather. Finally my wife convinced me that we needed a “real” camera, so I bought my first fully functional mirrorless camera. I started out with an A6000 and still often use it to this day. You don’t need the best or most expensive camera out there to take stunning pictures. Quite the opposite is true. Learning careful shooting and post processing techniques is much more important than the latest greatest camera gear.

alps, europe, france, italy, switzerland, flowers, wildflowers, backpacking, sunset, tour du mont blanc, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. A vibrant field of wildflowers high in the Swiss alps during sunset. One of the most incredible displays of wildflowers I’ve ever had the opportunity to witness. The last light from the setting sun reflecting off the surrounding mountains and clouds gave the entire scene a warm glow that stopped me in my tracks. This amazing landscape was photographed while backpacking the entire Tour Du Mont Blanc through Switzerland, France, and Italy. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.

BONUS: EMBRACE THE WEATHER!

lightning, strike, shelf cloud, tornado, flower, wildflowers, storm, black eyed susan, photo

Fine Art Limited Edition of 100. Within seconds of taking this image I was caught in brutal winds and drenched by pelting sheets of rain. This storm crept up so quickly it was absolutely terrifying. By using your imagination you can see that the lightning strike closely resembles the figure of a stickman walking with his head in the clouds. The main yellow flower you can see among the field of other various wildflowers is black eyed susans. Photo © Copywrite by Jared Weber.