Learn as much about a location that you can before you leave for your landscape photo shoot…planning is priceless.
Occasionally you may find a really cool location to shoot without planning a trip but I wouldn’t pass a career on luck. Landscape photographers spend a good portion of time in the field, exploring and shooting but most if not all great photographers did their homework about the location first. It may seem like a mundane thing to do, when all you want to do is run out and see the location but that could cost you in more ways than one. Planning your trip and doing research of the location will keep you safer, give you a good idea of where to shoot, what the weather may be doing and when the best times are to shoot. Planning your trip to any location will optimize your time to the fullest.
The first thing I do when planning my landscape photography shoots is look for other photographs of the location to seek out some of the best subject matter available in the area. You can do this by googling the name of the area or the name of a subject in the area, then hit “images”. Do not copy another photographers work but take note of the subject in the photograph to see if there is another perspective that could enhance the subjects details. If you see one start planning around that perspective.
Mapping your route will save you time on two levels. First for getting to the location quickly and second for mapping out your subject matter efficiently. We try to keep the subjects down to three in any given area so that we can spend a fair amount of time in each location. Mapping out your route between them will cut down on the time and mileage. Google Maps works great for this. As a side note google maps also has photos and satellite; which can help when trying to locate other cool features about an area to explore as well as parking areas.
Next, check the weather. In landscape photography weather is one of the biggest challenges. It is one of the few thing that we will never be able to control. However, we can use the elements of the weather to create stunning landscape photos! An app we like to use is Dark Sky. It helps us find out the weather conditions of any location. This will also help you plan your gear such as rain gear.
Finally, check the lighting of the location. We as photographers all know that light is key to creating stunning photographs. Plan out what is the most optimal time for you to be there with The Photographers Ephemeris. This app helps you calculate the angle of the sun to your subject or landscape scene.