Study the Work of Your Photographer Peers
You can get inspiration and ideas by studying the photography of your peers, in addition to studying the masters. There are lots of great websites that have photographs from photographers of varying skill levels, such as Photo.net, which has photographs from many different genres.
When you look at photos from such sites, you’ll see the settings and equipment the photographer used to capture the image. You can find lots of stunning work in online photo galleries. You also find some pretty lame excuses for photographs on these sites. You can learn from both.
When you see a bad photograph on a photography website, you won’t want to look very long. However, figure out what it is you don’t like about the photograph. Perhaps it was taken at the wrong time of day, or perhaps the wrong focal length or the wrong settings were used. Be a detective and scope out the metadata (if listed) to see what lens and settings the photographer used.
Then be a critic and dissect the image to figure out what rule of composition wasn’t used or could have been used. Perhaps the photographer could have chosen a better vantage point or been more careful when placing the horizon. After dissecting a couple of bad images, you know what not to do.
When you immerse yourself in photography created by established or aspiring professionals, you can gauge your own progress as a photographer and see how your work measures up.
You can also find great examples of nature photography in magazines like National Geographic and Outdoor Photographer. The latter also features how-to articles about nature and landscape photographers as well as columns from noted photographers.