Suzanne Becker Bronk’s commercial photographs grace the websites and publications of some of the Napa Valley’s most prestigious wineries. She’s the resident photographer at Caldwell Vineyard, where a permanent collection of her work is on exhibit. Her fine art photography also lines the walls of BWise Vineyards, Chase Cellars, Napa Vineyard Inn, and others.

Who better to ask for tips on taking the most dramatic, Instagrammable scenery shots – no filters necessary? Suzanne uses a Canon 5Ds single lens reflex camera with an array of zoom and prime lenses, but these suggestions will improve even the photos taken on your phone.

1.  Rise early – or wait. “The most compelling landscape photos are taken when the sun is low in the sky, at the moments just before and after sunrise and sunset. Early morning will give you muted blues, grays and pinks, and will often cast a golden glow. Sunset brings strong yellows, oranges, pinks, and blues. Be sure to expose for the sky to capture all those hues. The color of the sky at the moment before dawn can take your breath away.”

Photo 1 - Suzanne Bronk Photography

2.  Don’t be a fair-weather photographer. “Fog and mist are gorgeous, especially in the early mornings. These conditions are flattering to the landscape, humans, and even animals. Embrace a moody, foggy morning!”

Photo 2 - Suzanne Bronk Photography

3.  Walk around to find the best angle of view and composition. “Get in the habit of assessing the scene, deciding the elements you want to include, and where you want to place them in your composition. Experiment with your horizon line by asking yourself  which is more interesting, the foreground or the sky? Rather than taking photos at eye level, consider changing your angle of view by crouching down low or finding a high vantage point.”

Photo 3 - Suzanne Bronk Photography

4.  Include iconic elements. “Man-made objects can give a sense of place, like wind machines or bird houses in the vineyards. But do avoid telephone poles and wires, houses (except for interesting barns or farm structures), cars, and other vehicles. Also try to avoid most paved roads – though dirt roads can lead the viewer into the scene in a way that enhances the image.”

Photo 4 - Suzanne Bronk Photography

5.  Maintain a steady hand. “Find a way to keep your camera steady – it’s best to use a tripod or other stable device. And keep your horizon line level. Consider including an important element in the foreground to give the landscape a sense of scale.”

Photo 5 - Suzanne Bronk Photography

You can check out some of Suzanne’s own gorgeous work on her website.

All photos copyright Suzanne Becker Bronk 2017.