If you have no previous knowledge at all and ask me how you can learn landscape photography in the fastest and most effective way, then I’ll give you 10 steps today!
The prerequisite is that you own a computer and you want to learn this kind of photography. In return you will be rewarded with lots of fun, time in nature and great pictures.
How do I learn landscape photography? – My 10 steps
Step 1: Buy camera equipment
First of all you need a camera. It should be an SLR or system camera, the main thing is that you can change lenses. This will ensure that you can go in new directions in photography in the future. Which manufacturer should you choose? I think it doesn’t really matter. In the end, it’s all about knowing your camera well and being able to use it without thinking too much. I have written my recommendations in the two articles SLR for beginners and system camera for beginners. To start with, I would take the lens that comes with most cameras: an 18-55mm. It covers a lot of applications and later you can always invest in other lenses if you know your own photo habits.
In addition to the camera itself, I recommend
- A polarizing filter
- 2-3 gray graduated filters
- A good tripod
- A remote shutter release
- A second battery
- A large enough memory card
- A bag for your equipment – I use a photo backpack, but a camera bag is also possible
If you need some ideas for these accessories, you can check out what equipment I use here.
Step 2: Buy software: Adobe Photoshop + Neat Image
Sign up for Adobe’s photography subscription. This package includes Photoshop and Lightroom. With this, you have almost everything you need to edit your images. The big advantage over Gimp: by far the most post-processing tutorials are geared toward Adobe’s products. I got most of my post-processing knowledge from Photoshop tutorials. One plugin I’d recommend you add to that: Neat Image. It is used to de-noise your images when you shoot at higher ISO or do a long exposure.
Adobe offers with the photography program Lightroom and Photoshop for 13 euros per month.
If you don’t want to use Adobe’s photo subscription, you can find alternatives to Photoshop and Lightroom here.
Step 3: Study your goals and plan your trips
What is landscape photography without a beautiful landscape? Everyone has their own idea of what this means. Think about where you want to travel. Maybe you already have places in mind that you have already visited and now want to photograph. Maybe the landscape you want to photograph is right outside your own door. Wherever you want to go: Plan your travels and take your time. You can already look at the landscape in Google Maps. I like to shoot at sunrise and sunset. At these times you have the best light. So in your planning, you should also consider if you might need to hike there first and plan more time accordingly.
Step 4: Read the camera manual
After buying the camera, many people try the camera first and are overwhelmed by the functions and setting options at the first moment. That’s a good thing, too, and it’s a lot of fun. But to really get to know the camera and its potential, you can’t avoid reading the manual. The good thing is that about 80% of the technical information you need for photography is in the manual. Most people don’t really want to read it, but it’s really worth it!
Step 5: Get to know the camera through training
Now I can only advise you to use the camera as much as possible before your first trip. It’s important that you get familiar with the settings and try them out without end, including working with the filters. This is the only way to get a feeling for how the camera behaves in which situations. Eventually you’ll reach the point where you don’t have to think about the settings anymore, but only make minimal adjustments. Then you can focus on what’s really important: What’s going on in front of the camera.
Step 6: Study other artists‘ images
I learned a lot by looking at and analyzing other images. Even before my first SLR camera, I had a small compact camera. At that time I looked at pictures from DeviantART and tried to imitate them with my small camera. There is nothing wrong with imitating other images at the beginning. You can learn an incredible amount. Look at other images, be it on 500px, deviantART or 1x. Look at how the images are constructed, what light the artist used, what weather situation was there. From this you can learn a lot for your own photography.
Step 7: Read the composition book
Image composition is one of the things that makes good photos for me. When you start looking into it, you see an incredible amount of image composition and photo opportunities in your everyday life. It’s a really awesome time. To learn how to do that, I highly recommend this book:
I can’t do a better job of explaining how image composition works, how to use shapes well, what’s behind color, and everything else that goes into it. Michael Freeman does an outstanding job here. Even if you’ve been shooting for a while, this book is an asset.
Step 8: Start traveling and take lots of pictures
Now it’s time to put all that preparation into practice. You now know something about image composition, have become comfortable with your camera’s settings, and know how filters work. Let’s go! Focus on what’s happening in front of the camera. Try out a lot. The light at sunrise and sunset is especially appealing, as is the blue hour. Take advantage of this time on your travels!
Step 9: Learn post-processing
After your trip, it’s time for post-processing. If you’ve purchased and used gradient filters, you’ll save time on the computer and may only need Lightroom for image processing. However, not all subjects can be captured with a grayscale filter because the horizon is rarely straight. For me, I use these filters only 10% of the time. So it’s important that you learn post-processing as well. So what’s the best way to learn image processing? I’ve created a video course on image editing for landscape photography using Adobe Photoshop.
Step 10: More travel
Now you’ve taken your first landscape photos. I hope at this point you’ve already enjoyed your time in nature, noticed the clear air at sunrise, and come home with some great images. Now you should go ahead and plan your next trips. Practice makes perfect!
Optional: Expand your photo equipment
At some point you may want to invest in a super wide angle lens (I use the Canon 10-22mm). This will allow you to add even more depth and three-dimensionality to your images. You can find my recommendations for lenses for landscape photography for Canon, Nikon and Sony here. If you want to do long exposures one day, ND filters are also a good option for you.
If you need more help and have a question about one of the points, then write me in the comments!