The Process and the fundamentals of Landscape Photography

Photography has been going through a rapid transformation. With the internet, it’s no longer resigned to the skilled professional. Democracy rules this craft more than ever.

This statement has been bounced around for years. While true in some respects, in regards to post processing in Lightroom and Photoshop, it leaves unfilled potholes for many. These potholes are most apparent in the field for landscape photographers. This is where 1 on 1 interaction with an instructor in the field is so important, privately, or in a small group environment.

Sweet sunset light in Yosemite Valley, by Mark Jansen

First off, the landscape photography process is a physical activity, paired with the awareness of environmental changes. Mental acuity is required along with a solid understanding of the physics of light. This is sculpted by a device with a lens, as it transfers light to film or electronic sensor to affect depth of field and exposure. The camera is nothing but a tool. Understanding its full form and function is paramount.

Landscape photography, like no other activity I can think of, balances the physical, creative and mechanical world. The process can produce amazing beauty when combined effectively.

It all starts with simple pre-visualising, an idea or concept, followed by the application of compositional rules and hopefully, that magic moment. Then, it is important to move into the technical skills and optics required to configure a camera to capture that particular version before you.

I seldom approach a landscape location without having some idea of what I want from it, whether it is lens selection, aperture choice, or the best tripod height. About tripods, I seldom position my tripod when I first arrive at a landscape location. I move my camera around, looking through the viewfinder, exploring different compositions and positions. I explore the horizontal and then vertical. Then, and only then do I position my tripod. Tripods are important for landscape photographs. They force you to carefully compose, and when small apertures are used, they are essential.

When the opportunity arises, I like to explore a location beforehand. I seek where the light will potentially fall on a landscape. Knowing so many locations so well, this comes with ease after so many years in this business. After scouting a new location, I will then return only during the magic hours of light. That would be Dawn or dusk. I will explore foreground elements, mid-ground, and background features, with an eye on the sky, hoping for weather events.

If you’re new to the photographic arts take the time to learn the basics. Enroll in a private basic landscape photography class or workshop like the ones we offer at Jansen Photo Expeditions. This will save you from stepping into too many potholes from bits and pieces of information gathered off of the internet. Learning photography is an ongoing education. Once you’ve mastered the basics, it will provide you with years of creative joy.

All the best,

Mark Jansen

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Mark’s interest in photography and love for landscape photography draws him into some amazing places and he freely shares this knowledge on his photography workshops. He researches his subjects extensively, making many trips to selected areas waiting for the perfect light, an interesting approach to the subject, and just the right moment. His goal of "freezing time for others to enjoy" is what drives him to create his visions and teach workshops.

Mark offers photographic workshops in numerous U.S. and International locations with his business, Jansen Photo Expeditions. He is an expert and personable instructor, expedition leader and award winning, visionary photographer. 

Mark has over 25 years of professional fine art and photographic experience. He has a passion for landscape and classic aviation photography and provides large scale commercial installations of his fine art photographic murals and print works throughout California. He works with both small and large corporate businesses in helping them project a powerful impact through his images.


About Mark and Holly
Mark and Holly Jansen
Jansen Photo Expeditions
(805) 701-8807 or


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