Landscape Photography Tips

Seattle photographer Stephen Matera specializes in outdoor photography and since he is based here, many of his images will be familiar to those of you who hike and climb in our area. These are his top photography tips for shooting great landscapes. Below are some of his recent images.

  1.  In real estate the mantra is location, location, location. In photography, the mantra is light, light, light. You can have a great composition but if the light is mediocre, you’re going to get a mediocre photo. Light will make or break a photo, turning a good image into a great one.
  2. Know your equipment. It may sound obvious but you don’t want to figure out how to work your camera when the light (see above!) is turning epic. You should know your camera operations without having to think about it so you can change settings to get exactly what you want.
  3. Learn to use the manual settings on your camera. Anybody can put a camera in auto mode and get a decent photo. But the real creativity comes when you make adjustments manually. Over or under expose from what the camera would do, selective focus, change the white balance, shoot faster or slower shutter speed for certain effect.
  4. Research the location you are shooting ahead of time. Spend some time looking online at photos of locations you’re planning to shoot. Look at maps to figure out when the best time of day will be to shoot. Morning? Evening? Will it have front, back, or side lighting? What’s the forecast? What time does the sun rise or set?
  5. Previsualize your image in your mind. A camera is a tool. Creativity comes from you. The camera is the tool that allows you to create what you can previsualize.

landscape wild pacific rhododendron, olympic national forest, washington matera dfl8-011_std

Wild Pacific Rhododendron (R. macrophyllum) in spring bloom, Olympic National Forest, Washington

landscape subway zion utah matera ddp2-7-11_std

The East Fork of the Virgin River continues to carve out The Subway, Zion National Park, Utah

landscape spray park and mother mountain, mt rainier, washington matera dms6-155_std

Clouds in the valley below Spray Park and Mother Mountain, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

landscape mt stuart lake ingalls matera dms9-145_std

Mt. Stuart and clouds rise above partially frozen lake Ingalls at sunset. Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

landscape matera river autumn refletion drs5-026_std

Fall colors reflected in the Beckler River, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

landscape matera dms3-2-19_std

Aerial View of the North Cascades in Winter

landscape el capitan (agathia peak) little water, utah matera ddp3-044_std

Spotlight on El Capitan (Agathia Peak) below heavy clouds in the desert near Little Water, Utah

 

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About the author

Stephen Matera’s photographs capture the wild character of the West. Traveling to some of the most remote and rugged regions of the western United States, Stephen captures this impressive landscape in dramatic light, stunning graphic composition, and fleeting atmospheric conditions. The three pillars of landscape photography: clouds, form, and light interact to create stunning images of many unseen areas of the West, as well as some unique perspectives on other more accessible areas. Many of these images are captured after physically challenging backpack trips with a heavy overnight pack. The only way to capture these fleeting moments is to spend extended periods in the wilderness and to be ready when the three elements converge.

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