Tip #1: Do Your Homework
There’s no doubt that we’ve all heard this one a few dozen times. However, it’s ever so true and a great place to start. Before heading out to shoot landscape photography, learn as much about the area as possible. This is true whether you are close to home, traveling far away, or anywhere in between. There are so many resources to use to find amazing landscape photos for just about anywhere on earth. Before leaving home, do a search on 500px, Flickr, or Google Images to find images for your area of interest. Simply typing in a place name will yield tons of photos that will show you what to look for and provide inspiration for your own shoot.
While in the field, there are smartphone apps that can help with this as well. As of the writing of this article, the all new Really Good Photo Spots (rGPS) app is just over 2 weeks away from its initial release. This will be an invaluable tool for iPhone users to find awesome shooting locations from wherever they are.
Tip #2: Go for the Gold
Not only is it important to know where to go for a landscape photo, it is also important to know when to go. Perhaps even more important. The quality of light can make or break an image, so you’ll want to be there when the light is best. The harsh sun of mid-day is not it. When the sun is directly or nearly overhead, transitions from bright to shadow areas are very hard. The direct sun makes a scene with very high contrast and little depth and texture.
The best light for landscape photography is typically in the mornings and evenings. Golden hour light, which is roughly the first hour of light after the sun rises and the last hour of light before the sun sets, is optimal. However, it is still possible to shoot later into the morning and start earlier in the evening and get good results. During these times, the low angle of the sun creates more diffuse light and increased depth and texture for a much more pleasing and interesting image.