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Checklist for successful landscape photos (and putting the hyperfocal rule into practice)

For many of us, traveling means discovering, meeting, sharing, but also photographing. We all have in mind the idea of ​​returning from our trip with sublime photos in our bag! Photographing a landscape may seem trivial, almost easy. However, some great photographers have devoted their entire lives to it. Historically, landscape photography, like portrait photography, constitutes one of the first subjects treated by photographers. When you think about it, it’s quite logical: the landscape is accessible, more or less immobile, and it evolves slowly depending on the time of day, depending on the light, according to the seasons. As for the practical side, landscape photography and travel photography have in common the nomadic nature which requires autonomy in transporting equipment. Hence the desire to travel light without taking up too much space. In this article, I offer you a reminder to use in the field. Nothing like a cheat sheet to make sure you leave nothing to chance and take landscape photos worthy of the name!

Checklist for successful landscape photos

Before leaving

  • Identify in advance the subjects to shoot and the different possible points of view. Research the location to photograph. Take inspiration from photos published on social networks or royalty-free image sites such as Instagram, Unsplash, Pixabay, 5O0px, Pexels, etc.
  • Be independent: water, food, memory cards, batteries, even a small first aid kit (you can never be too careful!)
  • Think about strong (freehand) composition: rule of thirds, leading lines, perspectives, shapes, textures, colors, foreground, background, etc. Don’t just photograph a beautiful landscape, try to locate a focal point, an element that can highlight the landscape in question. It can be an element that contrasts with the rest of the image, a detail that catches the eye, etc. Develop a unique atmosphere.
  • Check the weather conditions and the position of the sun to have ideal lights. The photographer’s Ephemeris app is ideal. Favor hours when the light is aesthetically magnificent: golden hour, blue hour, backlight, side light, etc. Opt for light that highlights the landscape. The best lights appear at dawn and dusk.

In the field


  • Take a backpack specially designed for photography (robust and comfortable).
  • Use a GPS to locate your photos (Google Maps) and come back several times if necessary to locate locations and test different framing. Find the ideal viewing angle. Get higher and your photos will be much more captivating. Remember that you have two legs and sometimes walking or climbing a few meters can make all the difference!
  • Use a light, rigid tripod to stabilize your camera: essential to avoid camera shake. The tripod also allows you to maintain a low ISO sensitivity and adjust the composition of your image.
  • Have at least two lenses: a long focal length to shoot a distant subject and a wide angle, or even an ultra-wide angle to widen your field of vision.
  • Use filters: always carry polarizing filters, homogeneous neutral filters and gradient neutral filters.
  • Polarizing filters: to warm up colors, remove reflections and make the sky even bluer!
  • Homogeneous neutral filters: to reduce the brightness of a scene, ideal for long exposures (river, waterfall, etc.)
  • Gradient neutral filters: to darken the overexposed area of ​​the image.

The settings

  • Focus: 2 possibilities: third (lower) rule or hyperfocal rule. Then switch to manual mode.
  • Position your device parallel to the horizon line: use the tripod level or the grid on your LCD screen.
  • Shoot panoramas that you will then assemble in Lightroom. Shoot in landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) format.
  • Remember to deactivate the vibration compensation of your device: if your device is positioned on a tripod, this risks creating blurring.
  • Choose A or Av mode and adjust your aperture: select a small aperture: f/11, f/16, f/22, etc. The idea is to have the best depth of field possible.
  • Set the ISO to a minimum if possible: ISO 100, ISO 200 to obtain very good image quality. At dawn or dusk it is sometimes necessary to mount them.
  • Set your shutter speed carefully (S, Tv) especially if it is windy and the vegetation is moving.
  • Take a look at the histogram. If your histogram is underexposed or overexposed, consider using exposure compensation.
  • Shoot: Ideally, use a self-timer or remote control to avoid shaking when shooting. Check the sharpness of your photo by zooming in on the LCD screen of your camera: zoom in on the center and on the sides.

The hyperfocal rule

Hyperfocal is probably the most frequently used (focus) setting today. Most of us use hyperfocal distance, often without even knowing it: compact devices, smartphones, etc. In fact, these devices have a lens fixed on the hyperfocal, namely on the minimum distance at which a subject is seen as sharp when focusing at infinity. If the focus is on the hyperfocal (the area which is perceived as sharp so… it’s good, are you following?!), we obtain a zone of sharpness which extends from half of this distance to ad infinitum (take a breath and read again). Personally, it took me a little while to understand! The advantage is to be able to obtain, for a given aperture and focal length, the widest zone of sharpness possible.

Hyperfocal in practice

Mainly used for landscape and architectural photography, but also for handheld photography such as crowd photography: concerts, events, etc.

Hyperfocal principle

For a chosen opening:

  • If you focus at infinity (1), you get a depth of field (2) that goes from infinity to the front plane of focus (3) which is at the hyperfocal distance (4).
  • If you focus at hyperfocal (5), you then obtain a maximum depth ranging from a plane of sharpness (6) located further forward to infinity (7).

So, I hope this article will be useful to you in improving your landscape photos. And you, what are your tips and tricks for successful landscape photos?