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The Landscape Photography Book: The step-by-step techniques you need to capture breathtaking landscape photos like the pros

The Landscape Photography Book: The step-by-step techniques you need to capture breathtaking landscape photos like the pros

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The Landscape Photography Book: The step-by-step techniques you need to capture breathtaking landscape photos like the pros

403 pages
2 hours
Mar 27, 2019


Have you ever dreamed of taking such incredible landscape photos that your friends and family say, “Wait a minute, this is your photo?! You took this?” Well, you’re in luck. Right here, in this book, pro photographer and award-winning author Scott Kelby teaches you how to shoot and edit jaw-dropping landscape photographs. Scott shares all his secrets and time-tested techniques, as he discusses everything from his go-to essential gear and camera settings to the landscape photography techniques you need to create absolutely stunning images. From epic scenes at sunrise to capturing streams and waterfalls with that smooth, silky look, and from photographing the night sky or the Milky Way to creating breathtaking, sweeping panoramas, Scott has got you covered.

Among many other topics, you’ll learn:

    • The secrets to getting super-sharp, crisp images (without having to buy a new lens).
    • Exactly which camera settings work best for landscape photography and why (and which ones you should avoid).
    • Where to focus your camera for tack-sharp images from foreground to background.
    • How to shoot beautiful high dynamic range images and stunning panoramas (and even HDR panos!), along with how to post-process them like a pro.
    • How to create captivating long-exposure landscape shots that wow your viewers.
    • What gear you need, what gear you can skip, which accessories work best, and a ton of killer tips that will not only help you create better images, but make the entire experience that much more fun.

It’s all here, from the planning, to the shoot, to the post-processing—taking your images from flat to fabulous—and best of all, it’s just one topic per page, so you’ll get straight to the info you need fast. There has never been a landscape book like it!

Chapter 1: Essential Gear
Chapter 2: Camera Settings & Lenses
Chapter 3: Before Your Shoot
Chapter 4: Composition
Chapter 5: HDR & Panos
Chapter 6: Long Exposures
Chapter 7: Starry Skies & the Milky Way
Chapter 8: Post-Processing
Chapter 9: Even More Tips
Chapter 10: Landscape Recipes
Mar 27, 2019

About the author

Scott Kelby is the world’s #1 best-selling author of photography technique books, as well as Editor and Publisher of the highly acclaimed Photoshop User magazine. He is co-host of the influential weekly photography talk show The Grid and he teaches digital photography workshops and seminars around the world. Scott is an award-winning author of over 60 books, including How Do I Do That in Lightroom?, How Do I Do That in Photoshop?, The Lightroom Book for Digital Photographers, The Digital Photography Book series, Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers, and Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It. For more on Scott, visit his fantastic blog at

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Inside the book

Top quotes

  • When I want everything in focus, I pretty much always use f/11. Most pros I know use either f/11 or f/16, but those aren’t the only f-stops that will keep everything in focus, as f/8 works nicely as well, but f/11 is my favorite.

  • For example, if you were shooting a lake with a mountain behind it, you wouldn’t want your composition to begin in the middle of the lake.

  • That is your prime shooting time—the 15 to 20 minutes before the sun actually breaks the horizon usually deliver the best light.

  • That window of “good light” totals around 30 to 35 minutes (20 minutes before sunrise and around 10 to 15 after it rises).

  • Pull out your longer lens for some great shots of mountain tops—it can create some really dramatic looks.

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The Landscape Photography Book - Scott Kelby



Photography Book

The step-by-step techniques you need to capture breathtaking landscape photos like the pros

Scott Kelby

Author of the top-selling digital photography

book ever—The Digital Photography Book, part 1

The Landscape Photography Book Team


Kim Doty


Cindy Snyder


Jessica Maldonado


Scott Kelby


Scott Kelby

Erik Kuna

Jason Stevens

Dave Williams


Rocky Nook

1010 B Street, Suite 350

San Rafael, CA 94901

Copyright ©2019 by Scott Kelby

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review.

Composed in Univers and Myriad Pro by KelbyOne.


All terms mentioned in this book that are known to be trademarks or service marks have been appropriately capitalized. Rocky Nook cannot attest to the accuracy of this information. Use of a term in the book should not be regarded as affecting the validity of any trademark or service mark.

Photoshop and Lightroom are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Warning and Disclaimer

This book is designed to provide information about landscape photography. Every effort has been made to make this book as complete and as accurate as possible, but no warranty of fitness is implied.

The information is provided on an as-is basis. The author and Rocky Nook shall have neither the liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damages arising from the information contained in this book or from the use of the discs, videos, or programs that may accompany it.

ISBN-13: 978-1-68198-432-2

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed and bound in Canada

Distributed in the UK and Europe by Publishers Group UK

Distributed in the U.S. and all other territories by Ingram Publisher Services

Library of Congress Control Number: 2018952211

This book is dedicated to my dear friend, colleague, and renowned landscape photographer, Moose Peterson.

I’ve learned so much from him over the years, and a lot of that made it into this book. Moose was so kind and patient with me back when I started in landscape photography that I wanted to create a book that would honor his legacy of sharing what he has learned with others.

I also wanted to dedicate this book to Moose because he also reminded me what a true friend is. A few years ago, when it really started raining on me, Moose was right there holding an umbrella, and that is something my family and I will never forget.


Although only one name appears on the spine of this book, it takes a team of dedicated and talented people to pull a project like this together. I’m not only delighted to be working with them, but I also get the honor and privilege of thanking them here.

To my amazing wife Kalebra: You continue to reinforce what everybody always tells me—I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I love you with all my heart!

To my son Jordan: I just can’t believe my little boy is graduating from college. It all happened so fast, but I’m so thrilled for you, and for the many adventures, the fun, love, and laughter your future holds. If there’s a dad more proud of his son than I am, I’ve yet to meet him. #rolltide!

To my beautiful daughter Kira: You are a little clone of your mom, and that’s the best compliment I could ever give you. I love your sense of humor, your constant dancing, the hilarious faces you make, and I particularly love when you and I grab lunch or dinner together. I’m so lucky to be your dad.

To my big brother Jeff: Your boundless generosity, kindness, positive attitude, and humility have been an inspiration to me my entire life, and I’m just so honored to be your brother.

To my editor Kim Doty: I feel incredibly fortunate to have you as my editor on these books. In fact, I can’t imagine doing them without you. You truly are a joy to work with.

To my book designer Jessica Maldonado: I love the way you design, and all the clever little things you add to everything you do. Our book team struck gold when we found you!

To my dear friend and business partner Jean A. Kendra: Thanks for putting up with me all these years, and for your support for all my crazy ideas. It really means a lot.

To Erik Kuna: Thanks for traveling all over with me to help get the extra shots I needed for this book. Your friendship, ideas, and counsel have made this book much better than it would have been.

To Jeanne Jilleba: Thank you for constantly putting my wheels back on the track. I’m very grateful to have your help, your talent, and your immeasurable patience every day.

To Cindy Snyder: Thank you so much for working on my books and catching tons of little things others would have missed.

To Ted Waitt, my fantastic Editor for life at Rocky Nook: Where you go, I will follow, plus I can’t part with you until I at least get dinner at Tony’s again. #whodat!

To my publisher Scott Cowlin: I’m so delighted I still get to work with you, and for your open mind and vision. Here’s to doing new things with old friends.

To my mentors John Graden, Jack Lee, Dave Gales, Judy Farmer, and Douglas Poole: Thank you for your wisdom and whip-cracking—they have helped me immeasurably.

Most importantly, I want to thank God, and His Son Jesus Christ, for leading me to the woman of my dreams, for blessing us with such amazing children, for allowing me to make a living doing something I truly love, for always being there when I need Him, for blessing me with a wonderful, fulfilling, and happy life, and such a warm, loving family to share it with.

About the Author

Scott Kelby

Scott is President and CEO of KelbyOne, an online educational community for learning Lightroom, Photoshop, and photography. He is Editor, Publisher, and co-founder of Photoshop User magazine; Editor of Lightroom Magazine; host of The Grid, the influential, live, weekly talk show for photographers; and is founder of the annual Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo Walk.®

Scott is a photographer, designer, and award-winning author of more than 90 books, including Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It; The Adobe Photoshop Book for Digital Photographers; Photoshop for Lightroom Users; How Do I Do That In Lightroom?; The Flash Book; and his landmark, The Digital Photography Book series. The first book in this series, The Digital Photography Book, part 1, has become the #1 top-selling book ever on digital photography.

His books have been translated into dozens of different languages, including Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Korean, Polish, Taiwanese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, and Portuguese, among many others. He is a recipient of the prestigious ASP International Award, presented annually by the American Society of Photographers for . . . contributions in a special or significant way to the ideals of Professional Photography as an art and a science, and the HIPA award, presented for his contributions to photography education worldwide.

Scott is Conference Technical Chair for the annual Photoshop World Conference and a frequent speaker at conferences and trade shows around the world. He is featured in a series of online learning courses at and has been training Photoshop users and photographers since 1993.

For more information on Scott, visit him at:

His daily Lightroom blog:

His personal blog:

Twitter: @scottkelby


Instagram: @scottkelby


Chapter 01


There Is Some Stuff Ya Kinda Have to Have

You’re Going to Need a Sturdy Tripod

Avoid Using the Center Column

Extending Your Tripod’s Legs

Hanging Weight for Sturdiness

How to Splay the Legs

Get Really Low Using a Platypod

You’ll Want a Ballhead

You’ll Need a Cable Release

Get Your Horizon Line Straight, Method 1

Get Your Horizon Line Straight, Method 2

The Awesomeness of a Quick Release Plate and an L-Bracket

In Every Landscape Photographer’s Bag: A Circular Polarizer

You’ll Need a Graduated ND Filter

And, You’ll Probably Want an ND Filter

Seeing Your LCD in Bright Daylight

You’ll Need a Small, Powerful Flashlight

The Greatest Stuff on Earth: Gaffer’s Tape

A Good, Cheap Lens Cloth

Which Type of Memory Card to Use

A Drive for Backing Up in the Field

Extra Batteries (Especially in Cold Weather)

A Good Backpack (but Not a Big One)

Chapter 02


How to Get the Right Settings for the Job

Set Your Camera at Its Lowest Native ISO

Shoot in Aperture Priority Mode

Which Aperture (F-Stop) to Use

What Shutter Speed to Use

Shoot in RAW (Wider Dynamic Range)

Right Now, Go Turn On Your Highlight Warning

Is the Highlight Warning You’re Seeing Really Accurate? Well . . . No

How to Deal with Clipped Highlights

Which Metering Mode to Use

When to Switch to Spot Metering

Set Your White Balance to Cloudy

You Have to Check Sharpness During the Shoot

Live View Super-Sharp Focus Trick

Which Focus Mode to Use

Mirror Lockup

Your Cable Release Alternative

Wide-Angle Lens (Why and Which One)

When to Use Ultra-Wide Lenses

Chapter 03


The Art of Prepping for Success

Do Your Research

Start with Pinterest

Then, Check

Google Images Search & Google Maps

Location Scouting

Great Landscapes Make Great Landscape Shots

When to Shoot: Dawn

When to Shoot: Dusk

What to Shoot Other Times

Shooting at Blue Hour

What Time to Get There for Sunrise Shoots

What to Do the Night Before Your Dawn Shoot

Chapter 04


Framing Is Everything!

Choosing Your Shooting Position

Should You Shoot Tall or Wide?

Where to Focus

Or Use Infinite Focus, So Everything’s in Focus

Where to Put the Horizon Line

How to Lead the Viewer’s Eye

Drawing the Viewer’s Eye Using Negative Space

Drawing Their Eye with Light

Why You Need a Foreground Object

You Need a Clear Subject

Simplify the Scene

Avoiding the Border Junk That Ruins Images

Why We Need Clouds in Our Shots

Getting Still Water Reflections

Taking Great Shots of Mountains

Mountains as Backgrounds

Photographing Mountains from Down Low

Shooting with the Sun in the Frame

Shoot Right Before or Right After Bad Weather

Study Other Landscape Photographers’ Work

Chapter 05


Ummm, It’s How to Make HDRs and Panos

The Advantage of Panos Versus Wide-Angle

Camera Settings for Shooting Panos

Picking a Lens for Panos That Limits Edge Distortion

Make Certain Your Camera Is Level

Keeping Your Camera Centered

Three Advantages to Shooting Them Tall

Put Your Ballhead’s Notch on the Left for Tall Panos

The Key to Panoramas That Stitch Together Perfectly

The Two-Finger Trick Pano Helper

Pano Trick for Keeping More with Less Cropping

Be Quick About It

Shooting Vertical Panos

Shooting Multi-Row Panos

How to Stitch Your Shots Into a Pano

Which Is Best: Auto Crop or Boundary Warp?

Stacking Your Panos to Keep Things Tidy

Printing Panoramas

How to Shoot HDR Images

How to Merge Those Into a Single HDR Image

Creating HDR Panos

Chapter 06


The Art of Showing Movement

It Starts with a Tripod and Cable Release

Start with Auto Focus, Then Switch to Manual

Turn Off IS/VR

Where to Set Your ISO

How Long to Keep Your Shutter Open

How to Shoot Longer Than 30 Seconds

Cover Your Viewfinder to Avoid Light Leak

Why You’d Want to Lock Your Shutter Release

You’ll Need an ND (Neutral Density) Filter

Stack ND Filters for Even Longer Exposures

Try Using Live View to Focus

Take a Second Shot in Aperture Priority Mode for Sharp Detail

Long Exposure Noise Reduction

Making Waterfalls and Streams Look Silky

You Want the Clouds Moving

How to Do Light Painting

Chapter 07


Shooting the Heavens

Your Goal: a Landscape Shot with a Starry Sky

Avoid Light Pollution

Check the Weather, ‘Cause You’re Gonna Need a Cloudless, Clear Sky, Too!

The Moon Is Your Enemy

The Milky Way Is Only Visible for a Few Months Each Year

Where Exactly Will the Milky Way Be? There’s an App for That

Red Light Headlamp for Night Shooting

Hold Your Camera Steady

You’ll Need to Shoot in Manual Mode

Here’s the F-Stop to Use

Here’s How Long to Set Your Shutter Speed

When to Bump Up Your ISO

You Need to Shoot in RAW

Use a Very-Wide-Angle Lens

Turn Off IS/VR

How to Set Your Focus on Stars, Method 1

How to Set Your Focus on Stars, Method 2

Use Live View to Focus

Use Focus Peaking for Super-Sharp Stars

Lighting Your Foreground Landscape, Method 1

Lighting Your Foreground Landscape, Method 2

Post-Processing Milky Way Shots

Chapter 08


Take Your Images from Flat to Fantastic!

Opening JPEG or TIFFs in Camera Raw

Choosing a Better Starting Place

Set Your White Balance First

Choosing a More Creative White Balance

Now Set Your White and Black Points

Setting the Exposure Slider

Fixing Damaged Highlights (Clipping)

Opening Up Dark Shadow Areas

Enhancing Detail and Texture

Making Your Colors Look More Vibrant

Adding a Graduated ND Filter in Post

Cropping and Straightening

Converting to Black and White

Two Methods for Adding Contrast

Removing Haze from Your Scenes

Correcting Lens Problems

Dealing with Purple or Green Color Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)

Sharpening Your Landscape Images

Creating Reflections

Dealing with Glows

Post-Processing Focus-Stacked Images

Blue Sky Trick

Using the Auto Button as a Starting Place

Adding That Dreamy Look

Cloud Replacement, Technique #1

Cloud Replacement, Technique #2

Removing Distracting Stuff

Noise Reduction Just Where You Need It

Combining Long Exposure Images

Get Detail in the Moon by Combining Images

Chapter 09


Really, There’s More? Yes, More!

Rain Gear (and Why You Need It)

How to Dry Your Wet Gear

Small Ponds or Puddles for Reflections

Cloudy Days—Enjoying Nature’s Softbox

Don’t Shoot Black & White In-Camera

Putting People in Your Landscape

Creating Mystery with Fog and Atmospheric Effects

De-fogging Your Lens

The Secret to Getting an Amazing Sky

How to Get Detail in the Moon

Longer-Lasting Batteries in Cold Weather

Creating Beams of Light in Forests

Creating Sun Starbursts

Increasing Your Depth of Field Through Focus-Stacking

Avoiding Sensor Dust

Changing Lenses On Location

Your Landscape Assistant Phone App

Shooting Time-Lapse Photography

Chapter 10


How to Cook Up Some Tasty Looks

You’ll Need These Two for Most of These Recipes

Leading Lines Composition

Mirror-Like Reflections

Strong Foreground Elements

Dramatic Skies



Creeks with Silky Water

Oceanside Sunrise

Daytime Landscape

Long Exposure Water

HDR Landscape

Mountainscape with Layers


Panoramic Images

Low-Angle Wide

Atmospheric Effects

Canyon Slots

If You Skip These Two Pages, . . .

(1) Okay, that headline is a total scam, but it’s so important that you read these five things before you read this book that I had to make certain you did, in fact, read them. That’s why I wrote a headline that I knew would get your attention, and since you’re reading this, it must have worked, so we’re off to a great start. Now, what kind of stuff would be so important that if you missed it, it would be bad? Well, if you skipped this, you wouldn’t know that there’s a special webpage with some videos I created for you that will help you big time. Here’s the link to that webpage: Here are the four other riveting things (stop snickering):

(2) How this book works: Basically, it’s you and me together on a shoot, and I’m giving you the same tips, the same advice, and sharing the same techniques I’ve learned over the years from some of the top working pros. When I’m with a friend, I skip all the technical stuff. For example, if you turned to me and said, Hey Scott, where am I supposed to focus in this scene? I wouldn’t give you a lecture about hyperfocal distance or depth-of-field zones for acceptable sharpness. I’d say, "Aim your focus point about 1/3 of the way into

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