You see a stunning landscape, one that really blows you away. You're really excited at seeing it in print, only to discover you've failed to capture the magic. Sound familiar? If so, find out where you've been going wrong.
Good lighting is everything in photography. A scene that looks nothing on a dreary day can be transformed by a little sunshine. Revisit favourite locations to see how they look depending on the season and time of day. Early morning and late afternoon light are always the most flattering. Getting up early to witness a cold misty morning, or dew sparkling on a wet lawn, will make all the difference.
When you see a picturesque scene it's instinctive to just start snapping. That's fine, but once you've bagged the obvious shots pause and look around you. Consider whether you're standing in the best place. Could you add another element that would enhance the image? Is there a more unusual composition that might work well?
It's usually the vastness of a landscape that makes it so awesome. To get a similar feel on paper you'll need a suitably wide angle lens to capture what your eyes see. While a telephoto lens is useful for giving the impression of everything being closer together, or for isolating individual areas within a landscape.
Keeping everything sharp across long distances requires a small aperture. This gives a slow shutter speed, even on a reasonably bright day, making you liable to camera shake. A tripod will prevent this by holding your camera steady, especially if it's used with the auto timer or a cable release.
Look out for exciting colours, shapes, and textures. As a general rule you want something to hold your interest in the foreground, middle and background. Paths, roads and lines of trees are all good at drawing your eye into an image. Including people can add a sense of scale and emotion.
Spot on exposure is essential to distinguish your photos from simple snapshots. If you're struggling try exposure bracketing. That means taking exactly the same picture at different exposures. Many cameras have a function to set the bracketing automatically. You can then print the best result. Or combine images with editing software to give the best exposure of every part of the image - great for high contrast pictures.
photo editing software can also rescue disappointing images. Use it to re-crop, enrich colours and cut out unwanted elements. You can even add something that wasn't in the original landscape. Suddenly you've got that really special shot that's been eluding you!