Photographing landscapes is a unique opportunity to reconnect with myself. I become so absorbed that I can forget everything except the present moment, without worries or distractions. I wish it was always like this, but to be honest, it’s not always the case.

There are many factors to take into account to achieve the image you so desire, and sometimes it can be stressful to find the ideal composition, adjust the camera, predict how the light will influence your image and be prepared for when it happens. In addition, there are factors that you cannot control, such as the weather, that can ruin everything.

If you want to get consistent results and above all not lose or ruin a unique opportunity, incorporate these 7 habits into your work routine.

01. Know your camera like the back of your hand.

Although it is true that landscape photography is a rather slow genre, it is also true that weather conditions are very changeable, and on many occasions the perfect light that we so long for lasts only a few minutes or sometimes even seconds.

When this happens, you’ll need to adapt to those changing conditions quickly, and the last thing you want is to miss out because you can’t remember exactly how to set up your camera, or how to access the necessary settings.

If you don’t already know your camera well, start by reading the instruction manual. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many photographers I know who haven’t read the manual, and are therefore unaware of some features of their camera. Some options are quite hidden within the menu, and others may not be clear what they are for.

Reading the instructions of your camera carefully will solve all these doubts and will make you much more familiar with your camera. Focus on those sections that offer information about features you don’t know about, and how to quickly access all the essential settings. Take notes and mark the most important pages of the manual so you can return to them if necessary.

By default, each button on your camera will have a function assigned to it by default, but most modern cameras offer the ability to customize those buttons to whatever function you want. The flexibility that this feature offers is extremely useful.

Assign the most useful functions to the customizable buttons, and you will have access to them with the press of a button. Setting it up can be a tedious task, but the manual will guide you through the process. Once you have done so, you will have a camera customized to your liking and needs, which will significantly improve the user experience and speed of use.

Practice with your camera over and over again to the point that you can operate it without looking at it. Basically, your camera should become an extension of your hand.

Learning this habit will help you tremendously when you go out shooting. It will make you feel much more comfortable and in control of the situation, and what is more important, you will be able to devote all your attention to studying the scene and react quickly to any circumstance.

02. Monitor the weather

Light and how it influences your image is surely the most important factor to take into account in photography. As a landscape photographer, you will generally always shoot at sunrise or sunset, when the light is more diffuse.

However, the weather plays a fundamental role, and has a direct impact on the light conditions that you will be able to obtain. Although it seems obvious, many photographers do not take weather conditions into account when preparing their photographic outings.

If you want to increase your chances of success, download a weather app and learn how to use it. Learn to anticipate when the clouds will arrive at the location you are photographing, and if possible, what type. Predict if there is going to be a storm and how long it can last, or if the sky will be completely clear, or overcast most of the time.

Having this information in advance will help you decide which location to choose, or be more prepared for what awaits you. Perhaps you decide to go to a different location than you had planned, or perhaps look for a different composition to add drama, in case it is a stormy day, for example.

In countries like Iceland or Norway, the weather is usually very changeable. It may be completely covered, with rain and fog, and in half an hour it will be completely clear. Check your weather radar beforehand to decide if it is worth waiting, or changing locations.

Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of a photographic journey to learn how to use the app. Get used to using it from home, and practice with the local time.

Arrive first, leave the last.

Do you want to become a successful landscape photographer? Great, but keep in mind that you are going to have to make sacrifices to become it. You will have to get up at painful hours to arrive before dawn, or stay out in the open when the others are already having dinner.

It still amazes me to be completely alone in one location, to see most photographers arrive right at sunset, set the camera in almost any position, and leave soon after, as soon as the sun has set, or even before, when the weather conditions are not good.

Arriving early allows you to explore the area in search of the ideal composition. Once you’re satisfied, you can place your camera on the tripod, fine-tune the composition even further, and make any necessary camera adjustments based on the needs of the scene. Having enough time is the only guarantee of being able to do everything correctly.

The landscapes change constantly depending on the light. What is now a cloudy sky, can be a dreamy sunset a few minutes later. What seems to be a failure can become a success if you wait to see how things develop. This perseverance will take you further than most photographers and you will get unique images more often. There’s no telling when mother nature might surprise you!

An added advantage to the habit of arriving first and leaving last, is that you have the possibility of taking two completely different images of the same location. It seems that almost all landscape photographers focus on the golden hour (when the sun is close to the horizon), but there is much more before and after that, and it’s called the blue hour.

The blue hour is a magical moment that many photographers overlook, and one that you should certainly take advantage of. The blue hour occurs just before sunrise, or after sunset, when the sky is completely blue. You usually have 30-45 minutes to capture this magical blue light, before the sky explodes with colour.

These two images were taken in the same location, the first at sunset, and the second about 40 minutes later on a nearby hill. Two completely different spectacular images, even though I took them in the same location in the span of 1 hour or so.

04. Get inspired by other photographers.

Are you going to photograph a new location that you don’t know and don’t know where to start? It’s completely normal. If you haven’t been before, how would you know?

There’s nothing wrong with checking out other photographers’ portfolios, where you can discover new locations and find inspiration. What’s more, in my opinion it is a completely normal practice that most photographers use.

I’m not saying that you should trace the work of other photographers, but use it as a guide to discover new places and above all get inspired. If you are just starting out and want to be a successful photographer, you should look at what other successful photographers are doing and see how they can help you grow.

Fortunately we live in the digital age, and you have a vast selection of websites where you can find an infinite amount of information, from my own website or from other photographers, social networks, or books.

Don’t forget to socialize with other photographers when you’re on the road. It usually happens by itself, as we share a common passion. Keeping in touch with these new friends and sharing information is a great way to grow as a photographer.

05. Keep your equipment clean.

Cleaning your gear might be the least exciting task as a photographer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it often, especially as a landscape photographer.

When you return home from a photography trip, it’s easy to get carried away with excitement, and the first thing we usually do is take out the card from our camera to import and review the images, while we select the best ones to process.

With all this excitement, it’s easy to forget that your precious equipment has been subjected to harsh conditions of all kinds, such as dust, water, salt spray and dirt of all kinds that can affect the operation of your equipment.

A cleaning kit of one of the 7 essential accessories for landscape photography, and it should always be in your bag when you go on a trip to keep your equipment operational and in good condition.

Get in the habit of doing a deep cleaning of all your equipment when you return home. Make sure that no trace of dust or dirt remains on your camera, lenses or filters before storing it back in your bag.

Also check the sensor, and if dust has entered, clean it with some sensor cleaning swabs. If you don’t dare yourself, take your camera from time to time to a technical service to have it cleaned for you. If you have specks of dust on the sensor, these will be seen in all your photos.

A constant cleaning of your equipment will prevent the accumulation of dust and dirt that can reach the sensor. Preventive maintenance is essential for your equipment to perform at its best.

06. Review your images.

Have you ever photographed a scene with perfect conditions, and you think you’ve captured one of your best images, only to realize later that you shot the image at a very high ISO when it wasn’t necessary? Or perhaps you have not focused correctly and part of your image is not sharp?

Perhaps you are tired after several days and do not pay due attention, perhaps you have accidentally touched the focus of the lens, or when inserting a filter. Perhaps you have changed the settings for particular conditions, or for an artistic purpose, and have forgotten to reset it later. Or maybe it was a simple oversight…

There can be many reasons, but unfortunately these kinds of errors do happen, and they can ruin a unique image. To avoid this, make it a habit to review the image preview and make sure that the image is correctly exposed and that the settings are correct. Enlarge the preview and check in detail if the image is well focused and everything is clear. You will avoid more than one upset!

07. Keep your backpack in order.

The backpack is one of the 7 essential accessories for landscape photography, and the organization within it is essential if you want to be an efficient photographer.

First of all, photographic equipment is usually expensive and delicate. Cameras, lenses, remote triggers, filters, memory cards, batteries… Organizing everything correctly in your backpack will not only prevent you from losing something, but you will also avoid damaging it.

Any accessory must be within reach of your hand and easily accessible, in order to act quickly. No matter what the circumstance, a well-organized backpack will prevent stressful situations. There is nothing worse than wasting valuable time looking for an accessory, or worse still, looking for something you still don’t know you’ve lost.

Ultimately, you will have no choice. Over time, your equipment will grow and you may find it difficult to find a place in the same backpack in which you previously had plenty of space. You will have no choice but to “play Tetris” with all your accessories and find the combination that allows you to store everything correctly.

Get used to doing it from the beginning and you will avoid many headaches. An organized photographer is an efficient photographer!

Conclusion:

Over time I have learned from my mistakes and developed these 7 habits to improve my chances of success, while making the experience more enjoyable and less stressful, especially in situations where I need to react quickly.

Trust me when I tell you that most of these habits I learned the hard way. Landscape photography should be a relaxing activity, taking you away from daily stress. Acquiring these habits will not only make the experience more enjoyable, but will help you focus on the creative aspects and capture unique images.

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