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Basics of Landscape Photography

Written by Korbin Bielski

I have always appreciated the beauty of nature and the awe-inspiring feeling it gives me. It’s why I photograph landscapes and it’s why I live in California.

With any type of photo shoot there should always be meaning or a story behind it. The story acts as motivation for all that comes after whether it’s a fashion shoot or landscape.  For my landscape photography I choose a location that I feel evokes a feeling or mood and I ask myself if it’s an image I would like to hang on my wall. I come up with ideas for locations, colors and over all vibe that I want to create by deciding if I want full sun or a cloudy moody day, sunrise or sunset. I also allow inspiration to strike while on location. This is all part of preparation for the photoshoot.

The below image was taken in Maui. I wanted to capture the vibe and culture of the Hawaiian people. Every morning from my balcony I could see these canoes coasting by at top speed, it has been part of the Hawaiian culture dating back centuries, so this was inspiration that came to me while on location in Maui.  I’m always exploring and trying to find something new and interesting.

Equipment

You will need the proper tools to get the best images not necessarily the best, most expensive equipment. Work with what you have, but there are some basics. A wide angle lens, I use a Nikon 16-35 mm and a lens that will get you closer to the subject as well, like a 50 mm or higher and a tripod. A tripod will help get straight angles as well as avoid camera shake and give you the opportunity to shoot with a long exposure. A good camera bag is great as well, if you are walking a long distance or hiking I suggest a backpack camera bag, one that you can strap your tripod to as well. If I’m traveling away from home I like to have my laptop with me so I can import all of my photos from the day and If I have time I start the retouching process in Lightroom. I always shoot in RAW so I have complete control of my photos in Lightroom.

Travel

Traveling is a great way to capture landscapes that most people can’t get to or have only dreamed of.  It’s also a great way to challenge yourself and grow as a photographer.  I recently traveled to Maui a place I have never been, so I didn’t know the island.  I did as much research on line before I went, so I knew the places I wanted to go.  There is plenty of information on the internet that will tell you the best places to shoot and I will use those as guides then from there I find what inspires me. I will also walk or drive around exploring new places that I find interesting enough to shoot. It’s important to get outside of your comfort zone and explore!

I create a shot list in a word document before each trip that I print, it’s just easier for me to have a hard copy on me, especially if I’m doing a lot of driving. The shot list has a day to day list so that I can keep on track and make sure I shoot everything I had planned. I list the day, time I want to shoot the location and address as well as what the significant landmark is, a tree or rock formation, etc. I will also note how I want to shoot it, sunrise, bright day light, overcast for a moody look or sunset to create interesting shadows. You can’t control the weather conditions, but you can get an idea of what it may be like depending on time of year and time of day.

Post Production

Retouching your photos is one of the most important part of landscape photography.  Most photos come out of the camera pretty flat and I always shoot RAW so that I have more control over my photos. Retouching is very subjective, some people like an HDR or a very saturated look and some like a more natural look or a classic black and white scene.

There are plenty of presets out there that you can purchase or use directly in Lightroom, post production is all part of the creative process, so play around and create your own style. There are so many variables but it comes down to the look and feeling you want to evoke.

Once you have your images retouched it’s time to share them with the world!  Get a professional website like Square Space or if you plan on selling them I would suggest Shopify. I use both, but for selling Shopify is the best.  Share your images on social media, this will help you gauge what people like and maybe what they don’t like as much.  It’s really just for learning don’t read too much into social media and peoples opinions.

Travel near or travel far, but get out and take photos of things that inspire you!

About the Author

Learn more about the author and see more of his work in our Artie’s Eight Artist Spotlight featuring Korbin Bielski.

Last Updated July 12, 2022

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