Appreciating Nature’s Gold

By: Life is Good

Life is Good Vice President of Wholesale, and resident landscape photographer, Dave Schmidt captures the best of nature, and offers his tips for focusing on the good behind the lens. Dave shares four basic techniques for improving landscape photography, and shares some pro-tips for anyone looking to level-up their photography game. 


  • It’s all about the light. We all know sunsets are pretty, but, here’s a secret: Sunrises are often prettier than sunsets, which is why the best landscape photographers are up before dawn and ready for the early light of day. The first and last hour of sunlight are affectionally known as the golden hour.
  • Use the ‘rule of thirds’ to improve the composition. This is simple; just divide the view into a tic-tac-toe board with two equally spaced vertical and horizontal lines. Place the horizon line on either the top or bottom horizontal line and any key elements at intersections of the horizontal and vertical lines.
  • Change your perspective. To make an image more interesting, don’t take it eye-level. Go low or go high! An image naturally draws you in when it looks a little different from your normal point-of-view. This might be as simple as getting down on your knees or finding a high vantage point. Of course, using a drone for aerial photography takes it to (literally) another level.
  • Slow things down. It’s so easy to take a photo without giving it much thought. How many times do we end up with dozens of photos we wouldn’t even show our cat? Take your time, think about it, explore variations of angles and perspectives. The best way to do this is to use a tripod, which forces you to work slowly and carefully. You’ll end up with fewer pictures but ones you’ll be proud to share.


  • Really slow things down. The most interesting photos offer a view of the world that you can’t get with your eye. One way to do this is to use really slow shutter speeds. Those beautiful waterfall shots with elegant streaming water coming down are done with shutter speeds in seconds, not the usual fraction of a second. There are apps that allow you to do this on a camera phone or use the shutter priority or manual modes on a digital camera. A tripod is mandatory here to avoid the camera shaking. If using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, add a neutral density (ND) filter to the front of your lens, which will allow you to use slow shutter speeds even in the middle of the day. If want to try shooting waterfalls, go on a nice cloudy day to soften and even out the light.
  • The magic of post-processing. I never post a photo that I haven’t edited to really make the image pop. Most camera phones have editing capability built-in, and you can choose from a bunch of filters or presets. Develop your own style by using the various individual editing settings. I also convert a lot of images to black & white for a classic look, and almost every image will get a little vignette, which darkens the edges slightly to hold the viewer’s eye in the image. The iPhone’s editing capabilities keep getting better; however, I prefer to use the Snapseed app for most of my phone editing.

Follow Dave on Instagram at @daveschmidtphoto, and see more of his work at

Photos (from top, and left to right)

  1. Sunrise at the pier in Waves, NC DSLR, Tripod, 10 second exposure f22
  2. Vermont Stream, 6 seconds f13
  3. Vermont pond in the morning. iPhone image converted to B&W in Snapseed
  4. The Matterhorn in Switzerland, 6pm 1/500 f9
  5. Vermont Barn in the late afternoon winter light, 1/250 f8
  6. Vermont mountains, early morning, iPhone processed in Snapseed

This tutorial is part of our Life is Good@Home Series, featuring our talented Life is Good employees. If you liked this post, check out these other tutorials, led by Life is Good employees:

Dave Schmidt 
Vice President of Wholesale 

Dave heads up the Wholesale department at Life is Good where he works to bring optimism to all of our customers’ favorite retailers across the U.S. 

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