Landscapes are without a doubt one of the most popular subjects under the sun when it comes to photography and it’s not hard to see why. Saying that Mother Nature is positively spectacular is the understatement of the century. Whether you’re into seascapes or ancient forests, sweeping deserts or bustling cityscapes, the right landscape photograph can capture the spirit of a scene in a way no other medium can.

It’s tempting to think that such a photogenic subject wouldn’t require much overseeing on the part of the photographer. However, every landscape photographer makes his share of mistakes. Here are a few of the most common.

  1. Uneven Horizons

If you’re able to hold a camera completely level all on your own, you should be congratulated! On the other hand, if you can’t seem to get a horizon straight to save your life without help, you’re in good company because it happens to us all. Tip-tilted horizons are one of the most common things that ruin an otherwise flawless shot.

Try using a digital image level to help you determine when your camera is on an even keel with the scene in front of you. Tripods with built-in tools (such as bubble levels) can also be absolute godsends.

  1. Only Taking Wide Shots

When you first start out as a landscape photographer, it can be tempting to assume that getting jaw-dropping shots is all about fitting your camera with its widest lens and attempting to get as much of the scene into the shot as possible. Yes, it’s possible to get some amazing shots this way, but that’s not all there is to the medium.

Try really thinking about what you’re looking to say or achieve with your shot. Don’t be afraid to zoom in on individual elements of a scene. Some of the most poignant shots out there focus on the details and speak volumes in the process.

  1. Ignoring Post Process

A lot of photographers have a hang-up when it comes to retouching or editing their photos after they’ve been captured. They feel like it’s cheating somehow when in actuality, post process is an important part of making the most of your beautiful photographs… even when it comes to something as inherently perfect as nature.

Get comfortable with post process sooner rather than later. Remember you’re an artist, so anything goes. Using the tools available to you to clean up or adjust a shot can be an important (and rewarding) part of the artistic process.

  1. Not Noticing “Clutter”

When you’re about to nail an absolutely spectacular seascape in exactly the right light, it’s all too easy to focus on what’s working with a given shot. You’re so focused on the way the sky is the perfect shade of lilac or on the way the setting sun is highlighting the waves just perfectly that you fail to notice there’s also a pile of random ocean flotsam floating off to the side of your shot. Such a thing can absolutely ruin an otherwise good shot by sticking out like a sore thumb when it comes to your final shot.

Train yourself to not only look for what’s right about a shot, but what’s wrong as well. A little extra thought given to your composition can preserve quite a few of your shots and save you some headaches when it comes to editing. Try it and see for yourself!