National Park Landscape Photography has so much to offer.  When I want to go out to get great pictures I think of National Parks.  So much so that I buy an annual pass every year. Even if you don’t go that often, owning an annual pass is a way to support these precious infrastructures. When I go to National Parks I plan in advance the time of day and the specific location I want to shoot.  To do so I use The Photographer Ephemeris in the same way Ugo Cei is using it for Photographing Moonrise.  Check it out, this is worth it.

Here are my 7 tips for National Park Landscape Photography:

1.      Get out before everybody else;

This is the absolute most important things to do for Landscape Photography.  Although pictures taken at sunset have the same interest, sunrise is best.  Let me tell you why: The Park belongs to you in the early morning.  There is a sense of peace that will spark your creativity when you are alone.  Some of the nicest picture spot are a few miles away.  Heading there in the early morning is safest.  As the sun rise, should something happens, you will be more secure than in the middle of the night following the sunset.  The early morning hours are also a good time to get some fog in the scene and this is so aesthetic. This shot above, is usually the shot that I am aiming for when I plan for a photo expedition in a National Park.

2.      Aim for a single color composition;

Since my main Landscape Picture is now in the bag, I can think at original, different pictures on my way back.  I try to get at least one picture with a single color in it.  These pictures are always interesting and they complement so well the other diversified pictures I takes in my outing. This is easier done at the longer end of a zoom and this means that you have to pay attention to your focusing distance and aperture.  As you know, the longer end of a zoom has a reduced depth of field at larger aperture.  As such, I use a tripod, a slower shutter speed and make sure there is no wind.  Early morning usually means less wind.

FI-CO-8x10-2011-10-09
3.      Get down on your knees;

Macro PhotographyThe forest floor in National Parks is so interesting.  It is easy to find or create interesting composition that help appreciate the wonder at our feet.  Most of the time, creating a composition by adding or removing elements in the frame is really rewarding.  You can avoid distraction, reduce clutter and get a nice picture easily. It is also easier to control the light as the scene is reduced to a few inches.

4.      Shoot a panorama;

81 Megapixels Picture shot with a Fujifilm X-T1

81 Megapixels Picture shot with a Fujifilm X-T1

Shooting a Panorama is a great way to showcase the immensity in front of you. National Parks offers great opportunity for shooting panoramas.  Shooting a panorama involve understanding multiples technical aspects of landscape photography.  As such, it is a great learning experience. You could also consider shooting a panorama to overcome the Megapixel Limit of your Camera or get a wider angle of view that otherwise would not be possible.

5.      Shoot for an alternate composition;


Parc National du Mont TremblantDeliberately shooting a picture for an alternate, original crop factor is also another way to portrait our National Parks in an interesting way.  While taking this picture I wanted to create a banner that would include the rock, the flowing water and a few leafs on the rock.  This is not a contest winning photo by any means.  However I wanted something that would not be distracting and would create the mood associated with hiking for a special project of mine. Shooting for an alternate composition is one of my target when I wander in National Parks with my camera dangling off my neck.

6.      Look up;

TransparencyWe are often told to look up and we don’t.  Looking up is another way to find interesting subjects or create images that are different and draw the viewers’ attention.  This picture was taken while the sun was high in the sky.  You know this dreaded period of time where picture are not that nice because of the high contrast in the scene…  I use the bad light to my advantage here.  The sun shed light on the top of the trees and leafs are almost as bright as the sky which makes for this colorful picture that is well balanced. Please, do not forget to look up for subjects in the middle of the day.

7.      Slow down;

Photo prise avec un temps d'exposition de 30 secondes.  Filtre ND 10 stops.

Photo prise avec un temps d’exposition de 30 secondes. Filtre ND 10 stops.

When I came to this tiny waterfall I asked myself how I could create a big picture out of such a tiny waterfall.  I stopped down for a minute, slowing down, and looked at the waterfall to appreciate its inner beauty.  Taking my time and pausing for a few minutes enabled me to see these very small bubble on the water surface that were moving in the general direction of the water flow.  This is how came the idea of shooting this picture using a 10 stop neutral density filter at a shutter speed of 30 seconds.  I like the end result.  When I find a subject interesting and I don’t know how to make the most out of it, I slow down and the subject ends up talking to me like this waterfall did. Shooting landscape pictures in National Parks is rewarding.  Make it more rewarding by following these 7 tips for original pictures.  [easy-tweet tweet=”I like to slow down when I take #pictures in #NationalPark. Slowing down = Great pictures”]

Should you plan your first Photography outing in a National Park…

Research the location.  This is particularly important should you be travelling to your destination.  Here is a great guide on The Best National Parks for Landscape Photography.  My preferred book on the topic is the Guide to the United States National Parks by National Geographic.  I bought the guide and it is my best source of information when planning a visit to a National Park.  I also use tools like The Photographer Ephemeris and Sightsmap to find good location to take picture.

What are your tips for National Park Landscape Photography?

Share your tips with our readers here.