Horse Farm, Patagonia |

Landscape Photography

I love nature and have been traveling the world in search for the perfect shots. I am neither a professional nor an artist but hope that my personal experiences would help contribute to the topic. Here are some of the challenges that I have personally been struggling with:

  • Poor Sharpness
  • Tripod vs. Handheld
  • Boring Light
  • Poor or No Editing
  • Inclusion vs. Exclusion
  • Looking Out vs. Looking In

I will use some of my own works as examples to elaborate a bit.

Poor Sharpness

Damn it is tough while you are out in the field. Sometimes you have to really fight against the nature just to get a shot with acceptable sharpness. My tips: Do your research ahead of time and understand the challenges (e.g. rain/wind/light/etc.). Learn techniques on how to better hold your camera, focus, expose, etc. Know when to use what lenses and always take multiple shots just in case.

My Own Experience

The wind in Patagonia was so strong that I could hardly stand still, let along setting up a tripod. I took at least 10 shots on the same spot experimenting with different exposures until I thought I got a good one at 1/320. It was not until I checked my photo at 100% zoom during editing that I learned 1/320 was still not good enough. Thank God that I took another shot at 1/640.

Patagonia |

Tripod vs. Handheld

Tripod or no tripod, that is the question. Personally I try to avoid tripod whenever possible. I feel that tripod just gets in the way of my creativity. It takes time to set up and limits my freedom moving around and experimenting with different techniques. While many photographers would advice to “wait for the moment,” I personally prefer to “move to the scene.” But that’s just me.

My Own Experience

I used to set up a tripod whenever there is water for the silky effect. Not this time when I was shooting the seascape in Maui. It was quite late in the afternoon so I was trying to take as many shots as possible before it went completely dark. Suddenly a girl walked into the scene, picked up some sands, and left. The whole event happened in perhaps less than 10 seconds. The shot (which won an Editors’ Favorite in the Annual National Geographic Photo Contest) would have been impossible had I decided to set up my tripod.

Red Sand Beach |

Boring Light

One thing I’ve learned over the years shooting landscape: Even a perfect exposure won’t save a shot with bring light. So… move around and try to find interesting light!

My Own Experience

Here’s a shot I took in a cherry blooms festival. My instinct told me to go to the other side of the cherry trees where everything was lit up by the beautiful sun in the morning. But shooting into the sun in this particular scene actually offered a much more fun visual experience.

Cherry Blossoms, University of Washington |

Poor Editing

Editing. You have to spend time editing. To me, landscape photography is a form of expression. If I don’t edit, I am letting my camera’s default settings speak for me. So spend time editing! Experiment with composition, colors, contrast, etc. and try to be creative and expressive.

My Own Experience

This was a shot I took on a hot air balloon ride in winter. In post editing I combined multiple shots into a panorama and tuned down the saturation to give it a more monotone feel that I was looking for. Have I done the right editing? Perhaphs there is more to do. Or perhaps I have done it completely the wrong way. Hopefully I will see more and know more when my skills evolve.

Floating |

Inclusion vs. Exclusion

This has always been a struggle of mine. Should I include or should I exclude? Two completely different ways of thinking. Sometimes I have time to do both but most of the times I don’t. My tendency is to include because I find myself inspired by the complexity in nature. But sometimes I do regret that I did not zoom in. I really don’t have a solution for it. My best advice: Just let your creativity flow for the moment.

My Own Experience

The two shots below are not really landscape but I think they are good examples of my struggles. Should I zoom out to include more or should I zoom in to see what’s in there?

Crossing the Mara River, Tanzania | Yintrigue.comAngry Buffalo, Tanzania |

Looking Out vs. Looking In

Mountains. Lakes. Trees. Clouds. Light. Shutter speed. Aperture. ISO. Focus. Depth of field. The list goes on and on… There is so much to look out for that sometimes I simply forget to look into my own mind in search for my own creative means. Let’s not forget that the camera is, at the end of the day, really just a tool. What makes “photography” photography is the mind behind that viewfinder. Nature is created by God, but art and photography by man.

My Own Experience

Sometimes I am criticized for the shot below that it doesn’t even look real. My thought? Real or not is irrelevant in the context of my pursuit in photography.

Horse Farm, Patagonia |

* Images Source:

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