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What’s not to love about landscape photography? It gives you an excuse to travel, the freedom to create your own vision in post processing, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to convince people that Earth is worth appreciating. Landscape photography is all about massive scale. Talented photographers know how to make scenes look inviting, intimidating or downright unreal. The next time you’re out shooting the world (literally), keep the following five common mistakes in mind. By being aware of just a few, you can dramatically improve your shots.

1) Too much sky on a nice day

I know…the sky is really, really pretty. Unfortunately, without dramatic clouds on a clear day, it’s easily the most flat, boring part of your image. Tilt that camera down to get more foreground – also known as, you know, the landscape. Landscape photography is all about texture and perspective. A nice rule to follow is that 2/3rds of your image should be the most interesting part of the landscape.

2/3rds beach, 1/3rd sky.
2) Not looking at the histogram

Your histogram is the fastest, most accurate way to get a perfect exposure. Almost every DSLR lets you see your histogram after taking a shot, and consulting it can save you a lot of time in post production. Need a quick histogram lesson? The far left is pure black. The far right is pure white. You want your histogram to be in the middle.

3) Feeling defeated before post processing

Every incredible landscape shot you’ve seen has been digitally edited or meticulously developed in a dark room. Yes, that even includes images from people like Ansel Adams. Don’t get too depressed when your shots look drab in the viewfinder. Your shots aren’t in their final form in your viewfinder and, most likely, less spectacular than your eye sees the landscape. Make sure you’re shooting in RAW!

The Golden Gate did not pop this way in my viewfinder.
4) Being afraid of depth

I get it. Landscapes should be sweeping and broad, but having subjects in your foreground (like rocks, trees and flowers) can make your images look even more expansive. We may be inclined to throw our apertures down to f/11 or so to get everything in focus, but try finding interesting subjects and using a shallow depth of field. I promise that the scale you want will still be there.

5) Not having the right filter

If I had a nickel for every time I didn’t have my polarizer on me…You may not always be able to predict exactly which filter you want, so I recommend always having a few on hand. There have definitely been times I only thought I needed a polarizer, only to find that I actually needed my ND filter. Shooting landscape photography with a filter is like biking without pedals. They’re immensely important to get the professional shots you want.

Thank you, polarizer.
Once I realized I was making these mistakes, my photography game got so much stronger. It’s the simple things we all need to be aware of when we’re shooting. So, to recap: less sky, check histogram, don’t get sad, try shallow depth of field and bring filters.

Take these tips in stride and shoot some scenic photos of your own with The Nikon Landscape Kit from Lumoid!

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