Bring the right gear
If you’re planning to make prints, most scenic shots look best when displayed large, which means quality is key. We recommend using a DSLR camera with a full-frame sensor of 10 megapixels or higher. This setup should give you clear prints of at least 11×14 inches. As far as lenses go, a standard wide-angle zoom works well for most landscapes. To take full advantage of your camera’s resolution, be sure to shoot in the RAW file format and use a low ISO setting to prevent graininess in your images.
It’s also a good idea to bring a tripod in case you want to shoot long exposures or use a high f/stop in low light (more on that later). Sturdy DSLR tripods have historically been a pain to carry around, but new carbon-fiber tripods come in collapsible models and weigh as little as 1.5 pounds.
If you’re thinking, ‘I don’t need all that gear because my iPhone pictures look pretty good,’ just try blowing up a handheld photo you took in low light – it’s probably not pretty.
Wait for the best light
Landscapes shot when the sun is high in the sky tend to have harsh shadows, especially when there are no clouds to diffuse the light. The best time to shoot is typically around sunrise and sunset, when the sun’s rays are shining at a steep angle. Photographers refer to this time of day as the “magic hour” or “golden hour,” because the light is softer and has a pleasant warm hue.
Another popular time of day for landscape photography is the “blue hour,” which refers to the twilight period when the sun is just below the horizon. On a clear day, the sky should display a rich blue gradient during this time. The evening blue hour is ideal for shooting cityscapes because there’s still enough natural light to see the outlines of buildings, and the city lights are just coming on.