How to make my Landscape photos "pop"

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Name
Daniel
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#1
Hi,

I have been taking photos since I can remember, but I have never really been able to take my photos to the "wow" stage.

I follow some people on Instagram, like this https://www.instagram.com/connormollison/

And wondered if there are any good tips and tutorials for taking photos to the next level.
 
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Graham
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#2
A good tripod is a start, needs to be sturdy.
Locate good photographic locations, There are books out there, As you are from Aberdeen I am sure you have some epic scenery on your doorstep or at least not too far away.
What is your equipment consisting of ?
Do you own some type of trigger so you don`t need to touch the camera ?
Do you own any ND filters ?
Do you like Long exposure type landscape (with rivers/water) or just landscape ?
 

sirch

Official Forum Numpty 2015
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Chris
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#5
Well he's got a link to his 500px gallery in his sig so you can look at his work there, and to my eye it's not half bad. Although personally I don't think the photos on that instagram link are outstanding so I'm probably not the person to comment.
 
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Toni
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#6
The location & the conditions are what will make your photos "pop" :)

Followed by composition, style & editing ;)

As said ^^ Let's have a bit more info from you please.
This, absolutely. Landscapes are rather 'f8 and be there' to borrow a phrase.

Tripod - will make zero difference unless you can't hand hold at your chosen shutter speed. TBH a lot of the images on that page don't 'pop' in the conventional sense, but are all striking and spectacular because of the light, composition and carefylly selected subject matter.

Want to take amazing landscape photos? Go to amazing places when the light is amazing and chose a viewpoint that shows it at its best. :)
 
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Tom
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#8
From looking on 500px a few things I can tell you.

A few of your shots have amazing shots within them - take your Slains castle shot for instance. To the right of the frame you have the water and rocks - the right exposure and composition could make a stunning shot of them.

The reflection shot you've got - would be much more dramatic from the side of or much closer to the lake.

Your 'South Esk Viaduct' shot has an ISO of 1000 which considering your shutter speed suggests you were on a tripod - should have lowered the ISO for a cleaner shot.

The guys instagram you linked to. A lot of his style is about the editing he applies to the shot, somewhat of a matte look that's popular on instagram. I'm not a huge fan of some of his edits though.

Lots of ways but a lot of it also comes down to post processing.
 
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Ian
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#9
Looking through that Instagram you linked I'd say "buy a drone".

Don't make the mistake of equating followers or subscribers to quality. Your 500px feed has some decent images on there. It also has some over-processed stuff too (in my opinion!)

Keep taking pictures. You don't need to travel to InsertLocationHere on InsertPerfectWeatherHere days. What you do need to do though is decide what it is you want from your photography. If you want to emulate pretty landscapes, then you absolutely need to go to pretty locations on pretty days. Fortunately there is so much more to photography.

Wow is relative. Consider (landscape) artists like Ansel Adams, Fay Godwin, Joe Cornish, Michael Kenna, & Don McCullin (random-list-from-head) as well as the Instagrammers. Check Flickr or Google Images out for your local area. Go out without your camera to just spend time looking at the land. Having a "vision" or a reason to take photographs of an area will result in much better images than the plastic boobs of photography we see littering YouTube & Instagram today.

Just my opinion of course. To chuck in with all the others here. Which proves there's no "right" answer, which might also indicate that it's entirely possible that pretty landscapes aren't everything. And my final opinion is that your documentary & people images are far stronger than your landscapes. My opinion... etc etc. :)
 
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dd1989
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Daniel
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#10
I forgot about my 500px, not used it in years so unsure what’s even on there.

I will link a few images of my own so you can give some critique once I’m back on my computer!

Thanks all.
 
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dd1989
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Daniel
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#11
A good tripod is a start, needs to be sturdy.
Locate good photographic locations, There are books out there, As you are from Aberdeen I am sure you have some epic scenery on your doorstep or at least not too far away.
What is your equipment consisting of ?
Do you own some type of trigger so you don`t need to touch the camera ?
Do you own any ND filters ?
Do you like Long exposure type landscape (with rivers/water) or just landscape ?

Scenery around here is incredible.

I’ve got an X-T2, 18-55 f2.8, 12mm f2, some ND filters, a good tripod, wireless trigger and most other accessories I’d need.
 
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Lee
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#12
Ohh, and another little thing.......

Take photos for yourself not for 'likes' ;) I spend most of my time in local places rather than iconic places! I get images that I like - my other half usually likes them too (although we do sometimes prefer shots the other doesn't!) and if other photographers/forum members/Instagrammers like them that's cool too. But primarily, I capture images for myself, for memories & just because I like being out there & seeing things.
 
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Dave
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#13
Along with the suggestions above you need the light. If its a uniform grey sky its going to take a lot to get something out of landscape shot. I'm not saying that will always be the case - grey clouds swirling in valleys or around tops for instance - but without good light is going to be that much more difficult to get a shot that 'pops'

When the light is flat I think its better to concentrate on the detail in the landscape - rocks, foliage.

Dave
 
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#14
I can't see any links to your own pictures so can't say anything about them, but light, atmospheric conditions and composition are key. Shoot the things you love and really get to know places so you have options to shoot in all conditions. Most photographers tend to underplay the role of post-processing but using Lightroom/Photoshop to subtly enhance your images usually has great benefits. Joe Cornish, Greg Whitton and Alex Nail all have useful YouTube walkthroughs showing how they go about the editing process. The Joe Cornish videos were posted by OnLandscape, essentially about using Lightroom and more recently Capture One.
 
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Alf
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#15
Post your photos in the sharing & Critique section and we will point you in the right direction
 
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Joel
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#16
I don't think the images on that instagram page are that good. The processing looks quite uniform, which can give you a certain look or style, but it looks a bit heavy handed at times. I also think it looks like a preset has been used on virtually all of them.

As said photographs are about composition and light as well as subject, they are the key ingredients.
 
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#19
Hi,

I have recently made a new instagram, deleted my old account from 2012, and have started to upload some content https://www.instagram.com/danrobertsonphoto/
I suggest trying to shoot in better light (try golden hour, or look for spotlighting from the sun poking through clouds) and try and work on creating more engaging compositions. Just keep working at it and don't feel the need to upload content if you're not happy with the results of a shoot. For the black and white images you could give Silver Efex a try or use colour channels and curves in PS or Lightroom to add a bit more pop to the processing.
 
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Tom
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#20
Tripod - will make zero difference unless you can't hand hold at your chosen shutter speed.
TANGENT ALERT: using apertures like f/8 or f/11 particularly with telephoto lenses and around the 'golden hour' means fairly often I can't hand hold, especially as I want to avoid increasing the ISO. This combined with the ability to really fine-tune the composition, paying close attention to the edges of the frame; usually I manual focus by zooming in on live view as I don't 100% trust the autofocus; also if I find myself with challenging light I can bracket exposures, or if I need to focus-stack if I'm getting up close to something in the foreground.

Personally I always take my tripod when shooting landscapes.

[edit] Oh, and long exposure!
 
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Paul
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#21
TANGENT ALERT: using apertures like f/8 or f/11 particularly with telephoto lenses and around the 'golden hour' means fairly often I can't hand hold, especially as I want to avoid increasing the ISO.
Absolutely. I shoot lots of landscapes, and have just been shooting loads for a new London guide about to be published. I'm largely shooting about f14-f18, and always ISO100. You'll end up with exposures way longer than you can handhold. A tripod is an absolute must and helps you keep the horizons straight as well. Plus if you bracket, then you can easily blend later if need be. A remote trigger is going to help as well.

And then its just as others have said, its all about location, composition and light.
 
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Toni
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#22
TANGENT ALERT: using apertures like f/8 or f/11 particularly with telephoto lenses and around the 'golden hour' means fairly often I can't hand hold, especially as I want to avoid increasing the ISO. This combined with the ability to really fine-tune the composition, paying close attention to the edges of the frame; usually I manual focus by zooming in on live view as I don't 100% trust the autofocus; also if I find myself with challenging light I can bracket exposures, or if I need to focus-stack if I'm getting up close to something in the foreground.

Personally I always take my tripod when shooting landscapes.

[edit] Oh, and long exposure!
If you're shooting during the golden hour with a small aperture and iso 100 then yes, absolutely use a tripod - that's why I added my caveat. As for composition, *personally* I find tripods very inhibitory to interesting composition, often destroying the ability to 'see' a picture as it happens spontaneously, however I know that for some they are an essential compositional tool through the requirement that the user must slow down and set up a picture.

There's an interesting thread here that talks about a particular photographer and his images being shaped through his use of large format requiring time and significant setting up. To me, this is the effect of using a tripod - it causes a detachment from the scene I'm photographing. Sometimes I use that to advantage, for example with the picture below where I planned the shot, but it's not something I would want to do too much, and I know that often my very first shot of a scene will be the best, with later images starting to look forced.

Example.
Pizza Hut
by Toni Ertl, on Flickr
 
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Nightmare
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#23
I'll be generic, but basically this is the recipe:

Interesting view of ideally interesting subject
Good exposure
Processed to be fairly contrasty and with punchy colours, but without being completely over the top or unnatural. It needs to feel real but strong and vibrant.

You mostly can't go wrong with that. While a trained eye might prefer a more subtle or subdued rendering, this is subject to debate and is image dependent.
 
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#24
First of all work on the technical aspects until they become second nature. Take photos of what you like and enjoy. Plan. I never used to plan but planning around weather etc means you'll have more chance of getting the photos you want and not feel like you can never get a photo - I'm guilty of this but sometimes photos just happen and they're awesome too. Learn to edit. If you aspire to achieve images that look like those then it's all editing after you get the subject right. I think you should find your own style etc however if you want to get tips on editing then this guy on YouTube spells things out nicely and shows you how to edit like particular people. I'm mainly showing you this because for me watching these videos explains things I don't know about editing and gives great tips that I could use for my own style (when I develop it). It's up to you how you want to use these videos if you like them though.

THIS DUDE ON THE TUBE OF YOU
 

Mick Ryan

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Michael Ryan
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#25
As someone said, looking at your supposed inspiration on Instagram, if you want pics like that fellow: a drone and run the images (any image will do) through an instagram filter.

In a nutshell: light and location.
 
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