Freelance Photographer

How Do You Shoot Landscape Images?

After receiving another request via Flickr on how to shoot landscape images that seem to “pop”, I thought I would just jot down some of my basic ideas for your reference:

I am self taught and have stumbled many many times in getting the right pics and sometimes return home to find that everything I shot is not worth posting, or I forgot to check my camera settings, or left the battery on the charger, the base plate for the camera/tripod at home or the filters on the desk in the office. It’s hard to get it right and its very rewarding when you do.

I have always had a passion for photography from a very young age (6) & my Tato (grandfather) was a professional photographer – always had his camera in hand when we went out.

I moved to a Canon DSLR in 2005 and also got some cheap EFS lenses, some cost about $1000 each for the zoom lenses. I shot on auto settings, but started to understand that the better quality camera/lenses, the better the photos. I could not stress strongly enough, buy the best equipment you can afford as its more expensive to buy cheap equipment now, get frustrated with the results, sell on eBay for 10% (if not professional gear) and then buy the equipment you should have purchased in the first place. Professional camera equipment will last a lifetime and longer (I have my grandfather’s original film equipment and dark room gear and it all still works, the lenses are mint). They also resell for say 80% of purchase price on eBay if you look after your gear.

I started learning off Flickr from the EXIF data you can find on photos under Actions, EXIF – it tells you what they shot with – camera body, lens, what software they used to process and how long the exposure times were and f/stop settings. Then I found a shot I loved, wrote down the settings, got on the same location and tried to replicate the image. Once you have mastered the technique, you can then go and scope your own unique locations and these are the images you may want to sell, never replicate a professional photographer’s portfolio then try to sell it – its just not ethical.

Check out my photostream on Flickr: and if interested in knowing how any of the shots were taken, go to ACTION, view EXIF data and write it down, print out a small black and white image and go and try it yourself.

I have found that your photos are only as good as your lenses and the amount of time you take to dial in the correct settings, composition and small amounts of post processing (get it right in the camera on location and tweak it ever so slightly in Adobe).

MY GEAR: a list of my current gear pack can be found on this blog under HOW TO GUIDE, titled GEAR UP

SETTINGS which I use to start from and then adjust accordingly.

PORTRAIT: AV setting, f2.8

LANDSCAPE: Manual setting, f/13 or higher (ie f/18), not f/2.8 ISO100

NIGHT SHOOTING: Bulb setting, f4 or f8, ISO400, 6.5 mins to 8 mins to test your first shot – best under a new moon, not a full moon as the foreground will be overexposed. You can stack your star trails photos with some free software:

When adjusting for correct exposure its best not to compromise your ISO which should be set at ISO100 for less grainy images.  If shooting landscape I set my f stop at 13 then see what shutter speed I need for the correct exposure.  If shooting seascapes, and I want my shutter speed to be 1.3 secs for the misty water movement, I will adjust my f/stop or my ISO, if necessary – depending on how far out in the distance I want sharp.  If I don’t have much in the distance to keep in focus, I can drop my f/stop down to say f/8 or f/5.6 but would not option this over adjusting my ISO slightly.

If you adjust one setting once correctly exposed, you need to adjust another setting to keep the exposure the same.  For example, if shooting ISO100, f/13, 1.3 secs and I wanted to change the shutter speed to a slower setting, I would move my f stop to f/14 and move my shutter speed to 1.6 secs and if you use your live view on the camera, you will notice that the exposure is the same.  Visa versa, if you wanted a faster shutter speed, you would move your shutter speed from 1.3 secs to 1 sec and the f/stop from f/13 to f/11.  One click one way on one setting, needs a click the other way on another setting.  You can adjust the ISO, f/stop &/or shutter speed depending on how you want your image captured.


Always as a rule of thumb, focus 1/3 of the way into your scene.  Focus with your eye on the eyepiece not through your live view.  Once its sharp and you check your manual camera settings to ensure you are f/13 or higher, then your landscape image, if correctly exposed should give you the results you were after.


I shoot in RAW and JPG at the same time with my Canon 5D Mark II.  I only process my RAW files through Adobe Photoshop CS5 and manipulate most of my image in RAW processing.  The final tweaks I do to my images are with layers adjusting 1) colour selection adjusting the cyan on each colour – mainly red, blue, cyan, neutral, white, 2) gamma/exposure, 3) shadows and highlights, 4) contrast.  To finalise the image for web viewing:

Hope that gives you an insight into how I shoot and process some of my images.  Its all about getting out there and practicing.  Get your composition right, learn about the rule of thirds then disregard it if its not working, but at least know about it, learn about colour processing for Adobe and the difference between ProPhoto and sRGB colour spaces, learn to hate some of your images and put them into archive and try again.  Don’t believe everything you hear about photography, do what you feel is right and you will get some amazing results if you stick with it and practice.  Get frustrated with the post processing and then learn that its better to get it right in the camera than in the computer afterwards.  Use Adobe Photoshop as your darkroom and don’t just post images you have just shot live out of the camera.  Put your finishing touches on it to a level that you would be proud to have it printed and hanging in a public space for all to see.  Most of all, enjoy your camera, get it off AUTO and start using the M setting.

I am also available for one-on-one landscape training sessions on location from scoping a location, setting up the composition, shooting it wrong, then shooting it the right way, processing on the Mac on location, providing you with a finished image to take home or to the printers to get printed and hang on your wall. Once you get the process its simple from thereon. You can contact me via email: I find that once you are shown, its much easier than taking pages of notes down with you and trying to figure it out, it can get very frustrating…

Happy Photographing!!!

Disclaimer: this is my perspective of how to shoot landscape images, you may have your own and that is fine too – every photographer is different and we all get different results.

3 responses

  1. Cool post Leanne, I would add that if you are keen on shooting landscapes/seascapes to get some graduated filters, starting kit would be a 2 hard and 3 soft. This will help in most situations to balance the sky from the ground. I will also second that it is really important to get the shot correct in camera rather than trying for post processing. This can be achieved using the grads and the camera histogram.

    December 20, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    • noted, thank you – definitely get it right in the camera as the over post processing looks shocking with some photos that are posted – those sunsets are not that pink and how did the gum tree and the fence post go hot pink as well – 100% agree on less processing, more camera settings spot on …

      December 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm

  2. Just popping in to say nice site.

    January 1, 2011 at 10:22 am

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