10 landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

10 landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

Landscape photography is one of the most popular photographic subjects and there are superb images everywhere to inspire us. But there are a few pitfalls that can trouble even experienced photographers.

Don’t despair, though; our head of testing, Angela Nicholson, has put together a list of the most common landscape photography mistakes every photographer is guilty of at one point or another, and has some great advice to help you avoid any landscape errors in the future.

10 landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

Landscape Photography Mistake No. 1: Wonky horizons

Some people seem to have a gift for holding a camera level, while others appear have the complete opposite blessing.

Getting the horizon level when you’re shooting from an unusual angle is especially tricky, and if you don’t get it right you’ll have to rotate and crop the image post-capture, especially if there’s water in it.

Landscape Photography Tips: 4 ways to ensure a level horizon

While it’s easy to rotate an image to level the horizon it means cropping out some of your carefully composed image so it’s best to avoid it if you can.

The easiest solution is to use a level to indicate when the camera is on an even keel.

This can be a bubble-level on your tripod or a little spirit-level that slots into your camera’s hotshoe.

Alternatively, many cameras now have a digital level built-in that can be displayed in the viewfinder or on the LCD screen.

Check if your camera has one and activate it to banish wonky horizons forever.


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Landscape Photography Mistake No. 2: Foreground and/or horizon not sharp

What is hyperfocal distance?

There are some creative exceptions, but most landscape images demand huge depth of field with both the foreground and the horizon being sharp.

In many cases this can be achieved by using a relatively small aperture and focusing carefully at the right distance.

Traditionally, serious landscape photographers focus at what is known as the hyperfocal distance.

This is the point at which the maximum depth of field is created for that focal length and aperture setting.

Focusing at this point ensures that no depth of field is wasted by focusing too far into the image and extending the zone of acceptable sharpness beyond the horizon. It also avoids restricting depth of field by focusing on a very close object.

There are hyperfocal distance tables available, but these days landscape enthusiasts are more likely to use a smartphone app such as DoF Master or TackSharp to find out what the focus distance should be for their camera, lens and aperture combination.

Alternatively, the hyperfocal distance can be approximated and the lens focused at a point around one-third into the scene.

This works because depth of field extends approximately twice as far behind the focus point as it does in front.


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  • KG

    Sometimes I do wonder about this site/mag. The layout for the tips is awful, and then you hit us with an advert after 2 pages [well, I was] Just put these simple tips on ONE page, why on earth do you spread them across pages as if that meant there was more content!? I appreciate that the tips are for beginners, but I’m willing to bet most of them give up after 2 pages because of all the needless scrolling

  • ArieLex

    Hmm, I’m pretty sure the horizon in the 2nd image in No. 4 is not level. It does slope down a bit towards the land.

  • To address your points… we need ads to be able to give away free content. We could put it behind a paywall, but no one likes that.

    As for the multiple pages, wouldn’t you be scrolling more if it was all on one page? Anyway, in the past we’ve put everything on one page, and people complain about having to scroll endlessly down. Spread it out, and likewise people get upset. So our general rule is about 600-700 words per page. Most of our content on the site is 1-2 pages. This post, however, is 3000 words long!

  • tom rose

    “We need ads to be able to give away free content. We could put it behind a paywall, but no one likes that.”

    Untrue! I would happily pay a subscription for ad-free content, so long as it is high-quality content. I would even more happily pay a fee for use of a search engine to get away from the once excellent, now mostly annoying, Google search.

  • Robert Walsh

    I go to a page that you can see for free with ads. You also can pay to have ad free viewing. Those pages load so much faster without all the ads trying to load. I will start to read an article and then the page shifts away from what I was reading because another ad just loaded, very fustrating.