Landscape photography can have different meanings to different photographers. Some feel that it should only depict pure, natural outdoor spaces, untouched by any human influence. Others, including myself, are more open to including some man-made features into a landscape photo, as long as it enhances whatever story we are trying to tell. In any case, I believe that these photos should highlight the beauty of the land around us, whether or not it also includes any non-natural structures, objects or even people. They should also have some personal connection to the photographer, even if it is just to help to recall some private observation or feeling that they got when viewing the world around them.
Below are three different photos. One devoid of anything man-made, one with very minimal human disturbances, and one with quite a bit going on that is not natural at all. I consider all of these as landscape photos.
Unless you are fortunate enough to live in an area surrounded by beautiful landscapes, you will likely need to travel to get somewhere amazing. Even if you do live in such an area, you are sure to want to try your hand at photographing the beauty that exists in other places besides your backyard. So, whether it’s by train, plane, automobile, boat, or maybe even a rickshaw, you will need to include some traveling in your plans. And when you travel, be aware of what is going on around you, and make sure you photograph that experience as well. This, then, makes you a travel photographer as well as a landscape photographer.
Below are four photos I took while traveling from one place to another. I have learned never to put my camera away, and seldom even have a lens cap on.
Even if you are traveling by car, and are on a scenic road with pull-outs to stop and take pictures, to find the best views for landscapes often requires some hiking or trekking. If you are able to do so, do some investigation before you travel to a spot, and find out about any hikes or treks you can take to get yourself in a better position to capture that especially amazing view. Sometimes you may have to hike a long ways, but many times it’s just a short walk to get you in a position and view that can’t be duplicated from the road.
Hiking and trekking provide you with many new opportunities for taking beautiful landscape photos, but it’s not for everyone. You need to be in reasonably good shape, and, depending on how far you will be walking, you need to have the proper equipment and supplies. But unless you want to do something really exotic, your supplies and equipment don’t have to be exotic or expensive either. Some decent shoes/boots, trekking poles are nice to have, a small pack for your camera equipment, snacks and water. Just research the trails, pick something in your league and one that has the reward of a great view from the top, grab your equipment and go for it. It will be worth it!
The equipment that I use for landscapes includes my Nikon Z 7 full frame 45MP camera, various lenses from ultra-wide 15mm to 300mm telephoto (35mm full frame equivalent). I use a tripod when I can. When going for ultimate sharpness, even daylight photos benefit from a tripod. And many landscape photos are taken in darker conditions, or using longer exposures to emphasize motion. My go to tripod is my Neewer Carbon Fiber with ball head. I find it to be modestly priced for a good quality tripod, and is lightweight but still quite sturdy. The only time I could have used a heavier tripod was on the top of an open hill at night in heavy wind, when I was trying to take time exposure Milky Way photos. I still got some decent shots, but I had to be patient and wait for a lull in the wind. But that wasn’t landscape photography, so the Neewer is still what I will use.
The equipment needed to take good landscape photos does not have to be real expensive. The best camera to use is the one you have with you at the time. The cameras included in today’s better phones do a decent job, and you will almost always have that with you. And if you don’t have a tripod with you don’t worry. Just don’t be afraid to keep taking pictures. You will end up with something you will like.
For a full list of what I use, see My Gear page.
Here are some other photographers that I follow.