3 Exposure Tips for Landscape Photography

Alexandra MacRae

Get better exposure with these simple techniques.

Heading out to a beautiful wilderness setting with just your pack and a DSLR seems like a recipe for frame-worthy landscape photos. But sometimes you get back home and find that you have plenty of photos that are for the most part uninspired, or poorly lit. Here are some tips to combat the common downfalls of landscape photography, and to capitalize on nature's photographic helpers:

1. Plan Ahead 

Photographer Neville Elder suggests taking the time to stake out your location before you visit to take photos. This can be done by using Google Earth to find spots along a hiking trail, or in a national park that you'd like to shoot when you visit. Schedule these stops at logical positions along your journey, coordinating them with your natural rest stops and taking the time to set up your shots before you begin. Leave some room for inspiration along the way, but for the most part, planning out your main shots in advance will result in better photos. 

2. Incident Light Meter 

Use an incident light meter when photographing subjects that are particularly light or dark, to avoid under or overexposure. Most cameras today provide this feature, but it can hard to judge when you're out on a shoot in the wilderness. Utilizing a meter will help to balance out your exposure. 

3. Magic Hour 

This time of day, shortly after sunrise and before sunset is given that name for a reason; the natural features of the light at this hour provide so many benefits to your photos at once, it's like magic! With the sun so low on the horizon, the light is distributed much more evenly, and takes on a golden hue as opposed to blue. Make sure you're prepared in advanced to get to any locations you want to shoot at this time of day, you don't want to be scrambling and lose precious time during magic hour!

Check out the informative illustrations below for more tips, including bracketing exposures and making use of the sunny 16 rule. 

Published: June 28, 2016

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.

How to Survive a Freezing Night in a Van

If you want to meet more vanlifers than you knew existed, spend some time in the desert in the winter.

1 Saves

Climbing in 18-Degree Weather to Shoot the Sunrise

Vantage, Washington

One of the things that I love about photography is how the quality of light can make or break a photo. When shooting outdoors it is those early hours in the morning that I love the most.

1 Saves

6 Reasons Why You Should Use a Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photography

When most people start out taking landscape photos, they think they need to get a wide angle lens in order to capture the whole landscape. When I bought my first DSLR, I was one of those people.

6 Saves