Video: The 5 essential skills that will help you improve as a landscape photographer


posted Monday, August 8, 2022 at 12:00 PM EDT


Nigel Danson has been photographing for decades. In that time, he's learned a lot. His latest video describes five essential photography skills that have completely changed his photos.

While it may seem obvious, understanding your camera is a critical skill to help you improve as a photographer. It's not simply a matter of understanding how cameras in general work – which is undoubtedly important – but understanding how your camera operates. To get the most from your gear, you need to understand it, which means knowing its strengths, weaknesses, and special features. As Danson points out, it's not so much about which specific camera you have but rather how well you know your camera. Danson hosts many workshops and runs into photographers of all skill levels not knowing how to do something specific on their camera. You want to be prepared for any situation, and that means knowing how to operate your camera.

What are some things you should be able to do with your camera? Danson thinks you should be capable of exposure bracketing. If you're photographing a scene that doesn't work in a single exposure, you should be able to set your camera to bracket exposures quickly. You should also know how to enable a live histogram on your camera. The histogram provides important information about exposure, and it's a feature Danson uses all the time. When doing landscape photography, you often use a tripod. A self-timer delay is a great way to make sure you capture steady shots when you aren't using a remote. Be sure you know where to find the self-timer on your camera and how to change the duration to something like 2-5 seconds.

The second significant photography skill that will help you improve is putting your failures to work. Everyone makes mistakes, even seasoned professionals. Part of what separates the good photographers from the great ones is how they use the experience of failure to their advantage. While it's great to be careful and slow in the field, you should try just about every shot you can think of when you're just starting. It's great practice for learning how to use your equipment, but more importantly, it helps you try out different compositional approaches to any given scene. You will learn a lot by thinking up different ways to photograph a scene, and you'll learn more when you go through your images later and think about what worked and what didn't.

Perseverance has been a key skill in Danson's journey as a photographer. This comes in many forms, including returning to the same location multiple times. Even if you went somewhere and captured a great shot, that doesn't mean you can't benefit from returning. Over time, and especially when you visit the same place at different times of day, seasons, and with varied weather conditions, you'll see new things.

To learn about the final two essential photography skills, watch Danson's full video above. If you enjoy his videos, be sure to subscribe to Danson's YouTube channel. You can see more of his photography and learn about his books and workshops on his website.

(Via Nigel Danson