Award-winning Australian photographer Ken Duncan shares some fundamental landscape shooting tips, giving some insight into his stunning panoramic images.

Stop Talking and Start Taking
One of the hardest parts of landscape photography is getting out of bed early. Yet those who do will be rewarded with some great shots. Be sure to get up for sunrises even if it’s an overcast day, because the sun will often break through and give amazing light. Patience will be rewarded, but we need to get out there, and put in the hard yards.


Dreams of Yesterday, Craig’s Hut, Victoria, Australia.


Break the Rules
Don’t miss fleeting moments worrying about technical matters ““ click the shutter and grab the shot. The bottom line is: there are no rules. If an image works, it works; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. At one of my exhibitions, a person with a doctorate in photography was looking at one of my shots and I could see she was puzzled. “I can’t believe this!” she said to me (not knowing I was the photographer). “This guy has the horizon in the middle. It should be one-third sky, two-thirds foreground. But this really works!” So I replied, “Isn’t it lucky he didn’t know the rules, or this shot may never have happened!” 

Create the Third Dimension
Photography is a two-dimensional medium, so we sometimes need to try and create a third dimension ““ especially in landscapes ““ to give depth to an image. Try using strong foreground interest, or utilise lines within a shot to draw the viewer in: a road, a fence or a curve of beach can work. Shooting from a higher vantage point is sometimes a good way to get better depth in a shot. I often take shots from the top of my car, or standing on my camera case.

Be Patient
Photography is about waiting for the right light, and waiting requires patience. Don’t be put off by looking outside and seeing overcast weather; just get out and see what happens! You will be rewarded by the glorious moods and dramas that frequently occur during the magic of dawn and dusk, especially in inclement weather! A good tripod is a must.


Divine Twilight, Queensland, Australia


If you’re planning on shooting a sunrise, make sure you prepare the night before. Check everything, from your batteries to your memory cards, your lenses are clean to your ISO setting. There’s nothing worse than getting home after a shoot and realizing all your shots were taken on 400 ISO instead of 100. For coastal visits, check the tides too. And most importantly arrive at your location, at least 40 minutes prior to sunrise or sunset.

Don’t shoot everything from eye level. Be adventurous ““ explore shooting positions to find striking perspectives and compositions.

Digital cameras offer the revolutionary feature of instant picture review with visual exposure warning, enabling easy adjustment for correct exposure. The histogram graph allows on-the-spot recognition of light levels, contract and exposure. Time invested in familiarising yourself with these tools will make exposures a thing of the past.

When you return from outing, clean your equipment promptly. Salt spray in particular can cause corrosion very rapidly. Use a lightly dampened cloth to wipe off the salt.

When shooting portraits and animals, always focus on the eyes.

Lens Perspective
Lenses make it possible to produce pictures that vary greatly from our familiar human perception. Learning to visualise how lenses can transform a scene before looking through the lens is one of the most useful and powerful skills a photographer can master. Wide-angle lenses exaggerate space. They make near objects look unusually large and far objects extra small, thereby emphasising perspective. Telescopic lenses make objects appear to be closer on the same plane, producing a flattened perspective.

To find out more about Ken Duncan’s Workshops, click here.