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.
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.
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.
10 quick landscape photography tips
The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)
14 photo editing tips and tricks every landscape photographer must know
How to photograph anything: best camera settings for landscape photography
Landscape Photography Mistake No. 2: Foreground and/or horizon not sharp
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.
This works because depth of field extends approximately twice as far behind the focus point as it does in front.
Clever ways to shoot flat, lowland terrain
How to shoot dramatic pictures of the sea
Landscape photography ideas for rivers, waterfalls and lakes
Landscape photo ideas for creative pictures of mountains and hills