Light: the real moving target.
The thing that does move when you’re taking landscape pictures is light. Between the weather and the changing angle of the sun, you’ll want to think carefully about the time of day you’re working in and what you’re prepared to capture. There are all sorts of useful apps that can help you with the planning, but once you’re out, you’ll need to be able to work with whatever the atmosphere is handing you.
Carlson says, “The biggest, best advice — which is sometimes the hardest to do — is if you want to do landscape photography, you have to be there when the light is good. It sounds totally obvious, but that might mean you’re getting up at four o’clock in the morning, driving to your destination, setting up in the dark, and waiting for sunrise to happen, because sunrise and sunset are when you typically get the most dramatic, most interesting light.”
“When you’re shooting landscapes,” Carlson suggests, “you’re looking for more than just ‘here are some mountains.’ To get a great shot, you’re looking for what the weather is going to do, what the sunlight is going to do. They call those early hours and those dusk hours the golden hour, because all the light is coming at an angle rather than coming straight down. If you have high clouds, those are illuminated from below, and you get a lot of those great colors like purples and oranges and red streaks. That makes a landscape photo really pop. You can absolutely get a perfectly nice shot in the middle of the day, but when you’re shooting a great landscape, you’re really going for that more epic look.”