Three Key’s to Landscape Photography

In Scott Kelby’s latest book The Digital Photography Book, Volume 3 he talks about the three keys to landscape photography.

  • Gear: Having the right equipment and knowing how to use it.
  • Preparation: Scouting your locations in advance so you’re in the right place at the right time
  • Luck: Sheer unadulterated luck!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen these three keys written down before but they’re absolutely true, especially the last one, Luck! Having said that, I do believe that having the right gear and being prepared go along way in determining just how lucky you can be.

Take this image for example. I had scouted this location several times before and knew that the best light would occur just as the sun sank below the rocks to my left at Pedernales Falls. I also knew that I’d have just minutes to capture this scene before the warm, directional light from the sunset was gone. So I setup my tripod and camera about 45 minutes early, composed the scene in my viewfinder just as you see it here and waited for the magic to happen.

I took about two shots per minute for the next half hour or so as the sun slowly set and the image came alive with a wonderful warm glow. When I returned to the hotel after dark it took me only minutes to select the best exposures and process them in Lightroom to display and print. The right gear and good preparation allowed me to get lucky and capture a few really nice exposures that evening.

Rocks and Trees at Sunset

Rocks and Trees at Sunset – Johnson City, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 50D set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 47mm, f/16 for 4/10ths of a second at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. The image was post capture processed in Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

6 thoughts on “Three Key’s to Landscape Photography

  1. Good point about patience. I’d personally replace the first point “gear” with patience. I think too many people put too much sway on equipment. With today’s technology filtering down to budget level cameras, if you prepare, stay patient and perhaps get some luck, then you can achieve very good results with relatively modest equipment.

    • Adam,

      Thanks for reading and for your comments. As my friend David duChemin likes to say “gear is good, vision is better”.

      Nice blog by the way!


  2. I agree with Mr. Kelby but also Ray and Chris make a great point with patience. It’s the mark of a good wildlife photographer as well. Nature and her creatures do not keep schedules but by knowing the subject well, having the correct tools AND the addition of patience and presistance, luck helps but it’s created more by the photographer than happenstance.

    Beautiful shot by the way. Excellent color, quality and light angle.

  3. I believe the most important you left out is patience, a lot of patience. For some reason I see this almost as an exercise in meditation and concentration. From your photos I think you make your own luck, Jeff. Beautiful work, and I am waiting on budget to get one for the office wall.

  4. I’ve used this technique a few times and the challenge I find with myself is being patient enough to wait for the right time. It’s almost always later than I think. I doesn’t matter so much with digital, but I vividly remember a sunset I was trying to capture with both medium format film and my 10D. I ran out of film early, cause I just couldn’t believe it was gonna get better than it was right now!

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