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how to capture breathtaking
landscape photos hand-held

The most common practice among landscape photographers is to use a tripod. It makes it possible to capture sharp images noise-free. Hand-held landscape photos are the most typical method to take pictures.
Even so, not every shot benefit from using a tripod, as it may abstract your movement, takes too long to set up, etc.
How to capture sharp images without a tripod? It is the most frequent question asked.
So Let's look at some of the idea's how you can capture great landscape images hand-held.

Don't get lost, but get lost in the moment.

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1. Lack Of Stability - Use Image Stabilization

You are possibly wondering why your photos are a little blurry?

The good news is that you might be able to reduce image blurring in post-processing. BUT why not do it right in camera?

Not everyone has steady hands; therefore, the image slightly blurry due to camera shake. Every time you press the shutter button, the camera will move no matter how careful you are. Shaky hands can get you into trouble and make your images blurry. Prop your camera against something stable surface.

Whenever you engage your shutter button, you might shake your camera a bit just enough to de-focus your image. My advice is to use a time delay of about 1-2 seconds. I do this if I shoot hand-held to capture sharp images. Even on a tripod could use that extra second.

Read More Tips below...

  1. 1
    Turn image stabilization on your lens if it's available. it will help to reduce the camera shake. (as for tripod use, make sure this option turned off as it will do more harm than help).
  2. 2
    Brace your camera against something solid, like a tree, or place it on a flat surface. Still, I suggest using a delayed shutter action to compensate for any movement when engaging the shutter button.
  3. 3
    Hold your arm tight to your body, take a deep breath and exhale. Hold your exhale and take a shot.

When I took this image below, it wasn't the most favorable weather; despite the low lighting conditions managed to take a reasonably sharp picture. How? I was lucky that my car was in the right position, so I propped my camera on top and started shooting.

There are more ways you can help to avoid blurry images when you take hand-held landscape photos.
Keep reading...

Black and white photography
B&W Open Sky LR Preset - Black and white photography

B&W Haze Lightroom Preset

2. Slow shutter speed - adjust to a faster speed

Generally speaking the biggest downfall of holding your camera hand-held is the camera shake. The shutter speed becomes one of the most critical factors to achieve a sharp image when photographing hand-held. A small adjustment can make a significant difference therefore to achieve the sharpest image, make sure your shutter speed matches the lens focal length. I usually prefer adding another step up to the shutter speed to capture the sharpest image possible.


- Your zoom lens is at 60mm > your shutter speed should be at least 1/60 second. (this is also called a minimum shutter-speed for hand-held).

- Your zoom lens is at 200mm > your shutter speed should be at least 1/200 second, better yet 1/250 second.

- Your zoom lens is at 400mm > your shutter speed should be at least 1/450 seconds

Of course, this doesn't mean if you have a wide-angle lens like 20mm you can safely hand-held at 1/20 seconds. I would recommend not to be lower than 1/60.

When the conditions are great, the shutter speed is your best friend. This shot was taken at 1/800 sec.

There are more ways you can help to avoid blurry images. 

Keep reading....

LR Preset - Bright Sky
Landscape-bright sky

Bright Sky Lightroom Preset

3. poor lighting - find the right ISO setting

The amount of light could be your biggest ally or your least favorite. I recently visited a local mountain for a hike with the hope of taking some pictures of the local scenery. Unfortunately, the weather turned gloomy, and the sky was overcast with no definition in the clouds. I was ready to take the first photo, but I realized I would have to set my shutter speed to a very low setting to capture enough light.

Under those circumstances this would be the best time to increase the ISO to a higher setting. Most camera models will tolerate higher ISO numbers, but should you sacrifice your image's quality, adding noise and grain effect?

Given these points it is the question that you can only answer. Decide based on what is the story of your image. Is it a foggy, misty day, or are you shooting indoors? You might be able to get away to increase your ISO; on the other hand, higher ISO will result in a brighter image; therefore, you can set your shutter speed at a faster rate.

The image below was taken in a darker overcast day, so the ISO image came in handy. 

It was set to 400 ISO.

Keep reading...

LR Preset - Rich and Warm
LR Preset - Rich and Warm

Rich and Warm Lightroom Preset

4. Horizon is not straight

A crooked horizon has ruined many a great landscape image. Fortunately, this is easily fixed in post-processing. I wouldn't worry much about it, but keep in mind that you may lose some of the scenes when cropping your image. So best to get it right in camera.
There are different tools you can use to make sure to get your horizon straight.

You can use a few various tools to make sure your horizon is straight. Some cameras have a built-in level. If not, turn on your grid option in your camera viewfinder.
If you use a tripod, some may have a built-in level finder.

In either case, I try to level the horizon in-camera to save time in post-processing after all, it would be your best solution.


Bright Lightroom Preset

5. Forgetting about aperture

Most landscape images benefit from setting the aperture (F/stop) or, in other words, depth of field at between f/8 and f/11. To put it differently, you want to take some practice shots of the same scene to find your camera's sweet spot. Open the images in Post-processing software and zoom in 100%, and check sharpness in the foreground, mid-ground, and background.

Perfect example below how the wrong aperture setting can ruin a photo. The depth of field was too wide (f 2.8), showing blurring on the frame's perimeter. This should have been greatly approved by setting the aperture to f/11.

Landscape Morning Glory LR Preset

Morning Glory Lightroom Preset

The image below in enlarged 100%, As you noticed the left side is very blurry compered to the middle section of the image.

Landscape Morning Glory LR Preset

6. Landscape vs. Portrait format

Some photographers believe you should only shoot landscape in landscape (horizontal) format. Most of the time, it is true, but the portrait format makes the image more compelling in some instances.
Check the examples below, and you decide which version you like most.

Landscape-colorless sun lr preset

Colorless Sun Lightroom Preset

Landscape-colorless sun lr preset

7. Lost in translation - no clear focal point

Why is my photo looks uninteresting?
Don't follow the crowd. Try another spot or adjust your eye-level, and you might be surprised.
Ask yourself, what is the critical focal point of your scene? Are you shooting the whole set or just a small part of it? It is crucial to figure this out before your first photo.
It could be the clouds or the person in the scene, focusing on a flying bird, a winding river, or a road disappearing in the distance. The choice is yours, but think about what your viewers might see with their eyes.

The image below shows no real focal point. But one might argue that the lush green underbrush with the with bark tree trunks standing straight up makes up for it. I'll let you decide.


B&W- Antique Lightroom Preset

I was flat on the ground to take this shot. A boring bench turned into a more exciting subject.

LR Preset - Orange City
LR Preset - Orange city - hand-held capture

Orange City Lightroom Preset

8. Burst mode - Multiple shots

You might be wondering what burst mode is?
It is a beautiful tool to have in your arsenal of shooting styles.
Burst mode, also called "continuous shooting mode," when you take multiple images in s short sequence without re-engaging the shutter button by holding it down for a few seconds. When you set your camera in the "Burst" mode, you have a better chance to capture a sharper image. It is excellent for moving subjects so you can time it perfectly without losing that special moment.

Since most of us using digital cameras and storage is less important, shooting multiple images in a sequence might take up some of the space on your memory card, so use it sparingly.
Many digital cameras have this option easily enabled in its menu; check your camera-specific setting option.

Check out more details here!

Although I was using slow shutter speed to capture some movement, I engaged the burst mode to catch the right moment.

LR Preset - Crisp
LR Preset - Crisp - hand-held capture

Crisp Lightroom Preset

9. How much gear should you take with you?

Depending on how long you plan to stay out, where you are going, like hiking, kayaking will determine your gear choice.
I usually carry very minimum gear to climb on trees, rocks, or roll on the ground to catch a more interesting image. I have a small backpack edition to a zoom lens and a wide-angle lens. Leave the filters and tripod behind for less weight. Besides that, make sure you tell your friends when and where to return if you take a more extended trip. Don't get lost, but get lost in a moment and enjoy it.

LR Presets - Re Calibrate
LR Presets - Re Calibrate - hand-held capture

Re-Calibrate Lightroom Preset

10. Lets not forget Composition

The worst thing you can do is keep shooting without thinking about composition. There are three essential rules you might want one to consider when taking landscape photos. Rule of thirds, leading lines, foreground > middle ground > background. There is much more, but for now, let's focus on these three.

The example shows the rule of third position placing the object one of the intersection points.  


 Desaturated Matte Lightroom Preset

In this example, the focus of the object was placed at the bottom horizontal line. With this in mind, placing the objects at one of the intersection points or on the horizontal position (bottom, center, top) or on the vertical position (left, center, right) is more pleasing to the eye.


Sunny Day Lightroom Preset

Leading lines are the key compositional element that leads your viewer's eye through a path.  
As a result, they can be utilized to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between two objects. Use them in mind with an artistic purpose to help you tell a story.


Primary Calibration Lightroom Preset

11. Adding Depth to your image

In landscape photography, connecting the foreground to the background is important to create depth by layering your image's interest. For the most part, show something interesting in the foreground, in the middle, and in the background of your scene.

Color Saturation Lightroom preset


Most photographer prefer to use tripod, but you like me and feels like too much trouble then handheld is your best option. But I have to say I keep my tripod close by on shorter trips or where easily accessed.

  • The number one is stabilize your camera 
  • Check your shutter speed to at least 1/60 second at 60mm for hand-held.
  • Adjust your ISO to change the sensitivity of the image sensor to capture more light.
  • Enable burst mode on your camera to take multiple shots in sequence.
  • Set time delay between 1-2 seconds after pressing the shutter button to avoid camera shake
  • Always think about composition

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.
We would appreciate if you leave comment and suggestions on feature tips issue you'd like us to post.

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  • Sounds great. I would say, when taking landscape photography we must prioritize composition too because if we’re not able to make a scene that looks better through the viewfinder, we’ll fail to achieve a good outcome. We have to depend on time-consuming post-production. So, practice seeing a scene that works for you. There are several techniques to follow for good composition like thirds of rules.

    • Good point. It is a work in progress for this page. I will definitely take your suggestion and update it.
      Keep looking and let me know if there are any more suggestions you have.

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