Guest post by Simon Choi, Refractique
If you’re into landscape photography, then you know that the biggest thing determining the quality of a photo is the location it was taken. While anyone can snap an amazing picture of a beautiful spot, finding locations for landscape photography isn’t always so easy. There will always, however, be an abundance of areas to shoot if you know where to look. To help give you some inspiration, here are five tips for finding the best locations for landscape photography.
1. Plan Ahead
Visualize the types of areas you want to focus on, subjects and then what kind of shots. Do you want to capture the beauty of mountaintops at sunrise? Do you want to take shots of a particular urban landscape at sunset? Going to different locations than inspire you personally is the quickest way to improve your landscape photography. Once you have a clear vision in mind, you will be surprised at what ideas jump out at you.
2. Consult Google Maps
As with anything else, the internet is the perfect resource to find what you are searching for. The Google Maps app allows you to easily view just about anywhere on the planet without traveling there physically. Using earth view, you can discover all kinds of unique spots before going out there. The best part is that is works on your phone as well. Once you decide to visit a location, you can quickly scout an area by using earth view on your smart device. Just be sure to bring a battery pack as Google Maps uses up tons of battery very quickly.
3. Check Out The Portfolios of Other Photographers
There are thousands of other skilled photographers that have similar interests as you. You can easily search for landscape portfolios that feature the same terrain you are attempting to cover. A beautiful photo is all that is needed to inject you with a dose of inspiration. Plus, you can look at how popular each shot is. This gives you insight into what the general public is interested in. It is worth noting that you don’t want to outright copy another photographer’s work. While you can take similar images, the internet is quick to point out blatant plagiarism. Always remain ethical when using somebody else’s work as inspiration.
4. Consider the Time of Day
Depending on what time it is, the lighting of your scene can be vastly different. The shot of your life might be right under your nose. However, if you approach a scene at the wrong time of day, you might not see anything meaningful. Try to visualize how an area would look at different times of the day. It also helps to consider what terrain looks like during different weather conditions. For instance, some areas create a powerful mood when shot under an overcast sky. Rainy weather also affects how light reflects off of various surfaces. If you are having trouble visualizing your spot under different conditions, consider coming back to the same spots multiple times. Make a point to go out at specific times of the day or during exact weather patterns. You can use a notebook to keep track of which locations you’ve viewed under certain conditions. This is the most efficient way to organize the locations and scenarios you’ve already tried.
5. Explore the Great Outdoors
While this tip may seem overly simple, you never know when and where inspiration will strike. Spending as much time outdoors as possible will give you the most chances for a lightbulb moment. Start by walking in a different direction than you normally would. Do you always take the same route to work? Try switching up your routine just to see what life throws at you. Sometimes, you simply have to put in enough time before the ultimate shot materializes. You should always be ready to bust out your equipment at a moment’s notice in case this happens. Once you’ve trained your brain to be on constant lookout, you will naturally find a cavalcade of awesome locations.
In the grand scheme of things, Landscape photography is a numbers game. You have to put yourself into as many locations and scenarios as possible to find golden opportunities. Above all, the most important thing is to not get discouraged. Even if you haven’t snapped a great picture in a while, you should always stay positive. With the right mindset, it is only a matter of time until you stumble across the perfect shot.
Simon Choi is an avid landscape photographer. After departing a corporate career in Financial Services and Consulting, Simon pursued his passion for landscape photography, nature and creativity. He started Refractique, an online niche photography retailer which distributes the lensball.