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5 Tips for Landscape Photographers That Have Nothing To Do With Your Camera

January 31, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

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Photography tips.  They're everywhere.  So I thought I would add a couple of my own.  Here are five tips that I have learned from experience that will help you be a better landscape photographer.  These are not tips on camera settings, locations or specific gear but are tips that deal with being efficient so you can spend more time photographing and less time setting up. So let's get started!

TIP #1 Leave your tripod bag at home!

I get it.  You paid a lot of money for that tripod and ballhead and you hate the idea of it getting wet, scratched or dirty but carrying it in its bag isn't really going to help.  You still have to pull it out in the elements to take the shot and now you have an extra bag you have to worry about being blown away in the wind.  Leave it in the car, bus, van or hotel room!  I know some will say that they love the bag because it has a strap that makes it easy to carry but then you are carrying two bags, which leads me to tip number 2.

TIP #2 Find a bag to carry ALL of your ESSENTIAL gear!

See what I did there?  I emphasized "all" and "essential".  That doesn't mean a bag that holds all your gear, but holds all your essential gear.  See the difference.  I have seen people carrying bags bigger than they are because they feel the need to carry all of their gear. They are afraid they might miss something if they don't bring all their gear with them wherever they go.  This can be tricky because sometimes you are photographing two things that require different equipment (think landscape and nature) but try pairing it down to a minimum and then find a bag that can hold it all. Sometimes you can use equipment you already have to get the shots you want.  Like macro?  Try your long lens at the minimum focus distance.  Like wide angle?  Use a standard lens and shoot a panoramic.  Like to photograph animals?  Instead of that 400mm lens look at purchasing a teleconvertor to use on a 70-200mm lens.  The less equipment you have the lighter your bag will be and easier you will be able to move.  Be sure that the bag includes a way to attach your tripod if you don't want to carry it by hand.  Other things to think about are whether it can carry your water bottle, clothes, jacket and food.  Different types of photography may require different types of essential equipment and thus different types of bags but once your know your style of photography you should be able to narrow it down.  Once you have your essential gear in your bag you are ready to go....which leads me to tip number 3

TIP #3 Don't wait until you arrive at your location to pack your gear in your bag!

Once you have determined your essential gear for your location your bag should be ready to be grabbed straight out of the car so you can hit the trail.  Time and time again I see photographers in the pitch black of the morning putting their gear into their bag.  While your getting your gear ready I just beat you to the best spot.  Enough said.

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Places like Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park can get crowded quickly.  

TIP #4 Practice setting up your tripod and changing lenses!

You practice changing your setting on your camera.  You practice your techniques for getting the right shot.  Do you practice pulling your camera out and getting your tripod set up?  Do you practice changing lenses?  Probably not.  You should.  How long does it take you to set up your tripod and put your camera on it and be ready to photograph?  Less than 1 minute?  Less than 30 seconds?  How about changing your lens?  With light changing quickly sometimes 10 seconds can be the difference between getting the prize photograph or not.  Practice.  Practice.  Practice.  And finally

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Light changing quickly over Banff, Canada

TIP# 5.  Dress for success!

No, this is not an interview.  Simply put, know your environment and the weather forecast and dress accordingly.  Nothing is worse that photographing when you are miserable because you didn't dress appropriately or bring the correct clothing to keep you comfortable.  Good chance of rain or snow?  Make sure you have waterproof pants, jacket and boots.  Good chance of pop up showers?  Pack your rain gear in your backpack (see Tip# 2).  If it is going to be cold I usually subtract 10 to 15 degrees and dress in layers to meet that temperature.  So if the forecast is for 40 degrees F then I might dress like it's going to be 30 degrees F.  Why?  The longer you stay out in the cold the colder you get.  Makes sense, right?  If I plan on being in the cold for one or more hours I know that dressing for even colder temperatures will allow me to stay warm for a longer period of time.  And dressing in layers allows you to remove clothing as needed if you get too warm.  Be sure to have a light jacket with you even if the temperatures are warm, especially at high altitudes or places where the wind blows a lot as it may feel colder than the actual temperature and may drop quickly once the sun goes down!

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Dressed for success in snow - with my bag that carries all my ESSENTIAL gear

So there you have it, 5 quick tips on how to be a better landscape photographer.  What are some of your tips?  Leave them in the comments section below as I would love to hear about them!

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