There is no easy guide that tells you how to shoot beautiful images and if there were it would likely be too long and boring. The truth is most successful landscape photographers are self-taught. There is always the option of going to a fancy school to have photography teachers school you about light and composition and the history of photography but you would likely be in debt to the point where you could not shoot your way out.
Photography is best learned by practicing in the field and without the guidance of another as you may learn to be too much like that person. The key is to be organic in your efforts and how you compose your images. Here is another obvious fact about landscape photography in that most landscape photographers are generally outdoor enthusiasts such as hikers campers river guides etc. Ansel Adams was the resident photographer at Yosemite Park if I remember right. Ansel also did not attend a formal photography school however he was surrounded by opportunity at an early age and continued that journey through his life. I believe if you wrote a list of the top ten landscape photographers it would list a bunch of self-taught photographers. That does not mean I am against going to school for photography as I think those that study marketing and portraiture would best benefit from such formal training.
Landscape photography requires a lot of exposure to nature being observant of light and slowing down to see its beauty. I think if you are reading this blog chances are you see the beauty in nature otherwise you would not be reading about it. Some of you are professional or amateur photographers or just people who enjoy photography but either way you have an appreciation for nature. I remember when I first became truly aware of my surroundings and it was wonderful as I looked around at the clouds and the trees and I appreciated them like never before. I am very glad I have this appreciation because before I think I was too focused on technology, texting, planning or whatever else can enter your mind when there is time. I now stop along hikes and look at a beautiful seen and think about how that would look while looking down the lens of my camera. I then hold my hand up and create a square that I can view the scene with its just something that happens when you get the photo bug. So more than education and skill I would say is the need to be aware of your surroundings. The skill and education will come as you attempt to take pictures of the scenery that captures your attention. When I started shooting I remember seeing what I wanted to capture but then when I got the film developed I thought my camera must be broken because that is not what I saw. The camera was not broken but instead the little timer in my head that is supposed to tell me when to stop the exposure or it will become terribly over-exposed. Yes that is right I am an overexposurer (not a word but It needs to be) and others are under-exposurers. This is why we have light meters or better yet if you are a digital photographer than you have that little timer built into your camera and that is not a concern. But it was the many tries and errors and picking up my film at the local lab only to walk over to the light box and see a clear strip of film. Then sneaking out the door knowing that the person who just rang me up for my film is probably thinking wow he is paying money to have his over-exposed clear film processed. Embarrassing yes but did it teach me how to shoot yes because I kept trying until I started to understand how light works and that I needed to learn more.
There is a great deal of importance in the light and composition but again that comes with being aware of your surroundings as you can see if it is beautiful outside. You are able to detect that magical light as the sun is setting or rising just the same. A really good way to educate yourself without spending a ton of money on education is by viewing as many works as you can by various photographers. They will have different styles but you can pick-up on what makes them good images and it often leads to that awareness of a special moment and having the ability to walk by a scene and have a vision to capture a small section of your surroundings. I love Charles Cramer’s work for that ability to find beauty within simple small areas. He shows you that it does not have to be a vast scene to be beautiful backdrop.
There are a few things that I use to educate myself for free and some that I pay a small fee for. The best educational tool I have found has been Lynda’s which is an online education portal basically like going to an online school only it costs about $400 a year give or take, instead of $10,000 plus. You can also go to YouTube where there are great people sharing free videos on how to photograph or how to photo-shop images etc. One of my favorite tutorials on YouTube is title called “you suck at Photoshop”. The creator is hilarious and he teaches you how to use Photoshop while entertaining you. Lynda’s also has instructional videos on Photoshop as well as all other software and how to use digital cameras so it basically gives you a portal to everything. I have used it to learn how to build websites. I will put some links to Lynda’s so you can use their site and I can make a little doe that will most likely be given back to Lynda to continue having a membership. I wish this was the old days when you could actually make money off ads but I think that was when I was in high-school and I didn’t care about money.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask as I would be happy to aid with helping you grow or helping myself grow from your insight. It is important for me to network with photographers and those who appreciate the photo craft. It is important for me to network with you so I can offer what I know and potentially learn from. Personal growth that is accomplished from both teaching others is the most rewarding type of personal growth. If you would like to see me add something to this post please let me know. I know a great deal more but wanted to keep it short with room for growth.