Taking a high-quality landscape photo requires a lot of time, patience, and effort.
But creating a landscape image that’s considered fine art, well, that must be tough…
Of course, like everything in life and photography, if there’s a will, there’s a way.
And there just happen to be quite a few ways that you can help yourself create more meaningful photos that stand head and shoulders above all the millions of snapshots taken each day.
If you want to increase your chances of making your landscapes into fine art, follow these steps.
Light is Paramount
No matter what the concept of your image is, no matter if your final print is in black and white or color, and no matter how large or small that image is displayed, it will always need impeccable lighting to have the greatest effect.
Now, this doesn’t mean that to be considered fine art that your landscapes have to be of the Northern Lights or some other spectacular light show.
But what it does mean is that you need to hunt for the types of lighting that add depth and contrast, tonal range, and feeling to a landscape.
That usually means shooting in the early morning or late evening hours to capture the soft, golden light of sunrise or sunset.
That also usually means taking advantage of sidelighting, which adds long shadows to the shot that gives it gorgeous dimension.
The point is that you cannot merely hop out of the car, point your camera at a pretty scene, and take a photo if you want it to be fine art.
Instead, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to hunt for the best lighting conditions, making your way to the best vantage points to show off that light, and finding ways to enhance that light through composition, framing, and post-processing, among other things.
Patience is Second Only to Light
As I mentioned earlier, a central component of making a successful landscape image is effort and patience.
That means that landscape photographers that create fine art often have to be supremely stubborn, willing to work in uncomfortable conditions, carry heavy gear for a long time for a long way, and endure physical and emotional ups and downs.
Believe me, when you’ve spent hours hiking through the dark to get to the ideal spot for a sunrise shot, and then find that the atmospheric conditions degrade the lighting to the point that your images are flat and lifeless, that’s a pretty big bummer to deal with.
However, persistence is the key to success, so no matter how bad your previous landscape photography outing might have been, you have to be able to brush it off and head back out the next time.
That might even mean early mornings, late evenings, long treks in the cold, or enduring stifling heat to get back to the very same spot that proved fruitless the day before.
And yes, going back to the same spot over and over again is one of the secrets to landscape photography success.
Be Purposeful in Your Editing
I hear some photographers railing against post-processing, and I can’t help but think that they’re trapped in a bygone era.
Though I find it admirable to try to get a perfect shot in-camera, it’s just impossible to do.
In fact, even with post-processing, I’d argue that there’s no such thing as a perfect photo.
Having said that, there is certainly such a thing as a photo that’s overexposed, poor contrast, dark shadows, and so forth.