How to Shoot Landscapes on Film

Nothing compares to a dreamy landscape shot on film! That's why we're pumped to have two film photographers, Sol Rapson (@the_colorblind_cowboy) and Jake Williams (@jvkewillivms), share their top tips for capturing landscapes on film:

Sol Rapson

“Landscapes are so much fun to capture. I recommend a couple things:⁠

Keep It Straight

"Try and keep your horizons as straight as possible—a crooked horizon is the quickest way to take away from a beautiful scene!⁠"

Keep It Clean

"Leave space around the edges of your frame to keep the image clean.⁠"

Scout Your Location

"Find out where the sun is going to set and what your best time to capture will be. Scout your location beforehand, that way you know where you want to shoot when the light is right, and can avoid feeling rushed.⁠"

Chase the Light

"Get up and chase the sunrise!⁠"

Pace Yourself + Stay Present

"Space out your shots to allow for a change in light and give yourself time to breathe and appreciate where you're at! You also don't want to run out of film!"

Leading Lines are Your Friend

"I personally love when a landscape reads left to right—this can be achieved by creating some depth between a subject and the landscape or using leading lines.⁠"

Trust Your Instincts

"If something feels right, pull the shutter! More often than not this will lead to a great photo.⁠"

And Most of All . . .

"Have fun!⁠"

“All the images are made with the Mamiya7 on Portra400 and scanned on the Noritsu—a deadly combo!” — Sol Rapson (@the_colorblind_cowboy)

Jake Williams

“These photos were all taken on a weekend road trip down to Mammoth, California, and shot during sunset and sunrise.⁠" — Jake Williams (@jvkewillivms)

Be Aware of the Light

"This might seems obvious, but be aware of the light. Regardless of the time of day or weather, it is crucial to know where your light is coming from. For me, I like to shoot where the light is hitting and not into the light source. Shooting toward the light is going to be stretching the dynamic range of your film, so more than likely you will end up with blown-out highlights or muddy shadows. Point your camera to where the light is hitting—this will allow you to capture much more detail and color in the scene.⁠"⁠

⁠Meter Your Scene

"Metering your scene is one of the most important steps in making an image. Unlike digital, film is much more forgiving in the highlights. Generally, I like to expose for the mid-tones or shadows—this will give me the most dynamic range and detail. If you take a typical mountain scene and cut it into thirds, you would get the sky, the mountains and the foreground—I normally point my camera's internal meter toward the bottom line near the foreground and mountains, this will give you detail in the whole image.⁠"⁠

⁠Look for Layers and Leading Lines

"One of my favorite ways to make a photo more interesting is to add layers. It can be as simple as taking a few steps back and allowing a bush or tree to come into frame. Also, look for leading lines: give the viewer an easy way to be drawn into your image.⁠"⁠

⁠Keep Moving

"Nothing against tripods, but I never understood getting to a spot, setting up and then taking the same frame over and over again until the light is gone. Your legs are your friend. By moving around the scene, you are bound to find a new perspective and create a unique image.⁠"⁠ — Jake Williams (@jvkewillivms)

All of Jake's photos were shot on Portra400 and Portra800 with a Mamiya7 along Highway 395 in California. Rated at box speed and processed normal. Scanned on the Noritsu S-1800.⁠

Ready to give landscapes on film a try?

We’d love to work with you. Learn how to get started with us.⁠

Lead image by Sol Rapson (@the_colorblind_cowboy) on Portra400 with a Mamiya7 and scanned on the Noritsu S-1800.