Learn to Uniquely Photograph National Landmarks

Figure Out the Best Equipment to Use for Natural Formation Photography

Danita Delimont / Getty Images

If you are someone who enjoys shooting landscape and nature photos, a trip to a national park should be on your "to do" list. Shooting natural formations and famous national landmarks can be a very enjoyable experience, and it can create some lasting memories.

Use these tips to ensure a successful photography session when shooting photos of natural formations and national landmarks.

  • Expect a long day. Always be prepared for a full day of photography. When shooting nature photos, you probably won't be near anyplace where you can charge batteries or download memory cards, so it's important to make sure you have spare equipment available.
  • Consider panoramic images. Panoramic photos are a perfect option for natural formations and landmarks. To capture the full majesty of a large lake or a mountain range, having the ability to "stitch" together several photos is handy. Some point and shoot cameras will guide you when shooting a panoramic photo, so look through the menus for this setting. Otherwise, you can stitch together photos later using an image-editing program. Just be sure to lock the exposure (AE-lock button) to ensure consistent exposure settings within each photo.
  • Have a focal point. For a more successful photo of a national landmark, always try to include some sort of object where the viewer's eye can focus. If you're shooting a mountain valley, for example, a lone tree or a lake in the distance can provide a focal point. You also can shoot a photo of the landmark in the distance, with a flower in the foreground.
  • Rule of Thirds. Follow the Rule of Thirds when shooting these types of photos, and keep the primary subject out of the exact center of the frame. Place the subject just slightly off center to the right or left, or just a little above or below center, as this will give the photo a more interesting look.
  • Use telephoto for animals. If you want to shoot photos of animals in the national park, be sure to bring a camera with a large zoom lens. Without a large zoom, you might have to move too close to the animal, spooking it.
  • Poor weather can be a unique opportunity. Don't leave your camera at home just because the weather is poor. Because most people try to shoot photos of important landmarks in perfect weather, those photos you shoot in poor weather will give the landmark a unique look. Just make sure your camera is protected as well as possible from the elements.
  • Include people… Take a few photos of the landmark alone, just to capture the beauty or majesty of it, but you also will want to include some people in some of the photos, too, which will make those photos unique to your trip. For example, place your family members in some of the photos, or even ask a nearby person to shoot some photos, so your entire traveling party can be in the picture. Consider using the camera's self-timer feature, too.
  • …and gain perspective. As an added advantage to placing some people in the photo, you can gain a feel for the scale of the landmark. For example, when shooting a large rock formation, having people in the frame can help you later remember how large the formation was.
  • Be safe. Don't become so focused on the subject matter and looking through your camera's viewfinder or at the LCD screen that you aren't paying attention to your surroundings. You don't want to trip and hurt yourself, so stay safe with your camera.
  • Don’t forget the classics. Even though it might seem "too easy," don't forget to shoot at least a few photos of the signature landmark in an area. But try to give the photo a slightly different look, perhaps by shooting at a unique angle. For example, as shown in the photo here, incorporate an interesting background, such as a fiery orange sunset behind the Space Needle. Just try to be creative!