The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

Commandment 5: Use a steady tripod

Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

If you want sharp landscape images then a good, solid tripod is essential, but it won’t guarantee shake-free shots – there are a few techniques you need to employ as well.

A remote release is a sensible investment because this will enable you to trigger the shutter without touching the camera directly. If you forget your remote release, use your camera’s self-timer (and if you don’t have a tripod, check out these 3 ways to hold a camera steady).

With a DSLR, it also pays to use mirror lock-up. This flips the mirror up with one press of the shutter release, before triggering the shutter to fire on the second press, after a delay, to allow vibration from the mirror movement to stop.

With some cameras the self-timer can be linked to the mirror lock-up feature, so the shooting process takes place with a single press of the shutter release.

An added advantage of using a tripod is that it slows you down, and this automatically makes your photography more considered.

It also means the camera is fixed in one position while you experiment with different filters and exposure settings and so on (see our 4 tips for sharper shots when using a tripod).

Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

Image copyright Ben Brain (Future)

Break the Rules: Move!
Although a sharp image of a landscape might record exactly what the scene looks like, it may not capture the atmosphere of the location or the emotion of being in a particular place.

As we look around a woodland, for example, we don’t see all the tiny details of the leaves and trees around us because they are blurred as we move our eyes. If the camera is moved during the exposure you can replicate this blurring effect.

You don’t need an especially long shutter speed to blur an image – it can be achieved with just 1/15 sec, but a longer exposure of around a second or more allows for larger, more dramatic movements and greater blurring.

It’s often possible to get a sufficiently long exposure by selecting the lowest available sensitivity setting and using a very narrow aperture. In bright conditions it may be necessary to use a neutral density filter on the front of the lens. This cuts out some of the light so that a slower shutter speed can be used.

Try to move the camera in one smooth movement. It can be helpful to use the self-timer to delay the exposure by a couple of seconds as this gives you time to adjust your grip and start the camera movement just before the shutter opens.

Because all the highlights and shadows are blurred, the image will look flat straight from the camera, but this is easy to adjust using Levels in an image-editing application.

Commandment 1: Shoot during the golden hour
Commandment 2: Use a wideangle lens
Commandment 3: Use the Rule of Thirds
Commandment 4: Find foreground interest
Commandment 5: Use a steady tripod
Commandment 6: Focus one third in
Commandment 7: Balance the exposure
Commandment 8: Boost greens and blues
Commandment 9: Use a narrow aperture
Commandment 10: Use a low ISO setting


9 secrets to using a tripod like a pro
10 reasons your photos aren’t sharp (and how to fix them)
13 ways famous landscape photographers make money from photography
Crop photos the right way: classic mistakes and how to avoid them

  • jmeyer

    Thanks for the kind words, durand! Glad to have you here!