Want tips for stunning landscape photography? You’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I’m going to share 11 easy landscape photography tips – which are guaranteed to get you taking beautiful images, no matter your experience level. I’ve also included plenty of example photos, so you can see the tips in action (and know that they really do work!).
Let’s get started.
1. Maximize your depth of field
In landscape photography, a deep depth of field is almost always the way to go.
In other words:
You want as much of your scene in focus as possible. The simplest way to do this is to choose a small aperture setting (i.e., a large f-number, such as f/11 or f/16). Because the smaller your aperture, the greater the depth of field in your shots.
Do keep in mind that smaller apertures mean less light is hitting your image sensor. So you’ll need to compensate for the narrow aperture either by increasing your ISO or lengthening your shutter speed (or both).
PS: Of course, there are times when you can get some great results with a very shallow depth of field in a landscape setting. It’s just a tricky technique that requires a lot of finesse.
2. Use a tripod
To maximize your depth of field, you’ll be using a small aperture – and you’ll also likely shoot with a long shutter speed.
But unless you’re careful, you’ll end up with an unusably blurry image.
That’s where a tripod comes in handy. You can use it to stabilize your camera and keep your photos tack sharp for 1-second, 5-second, and even 30-second long exposures.
In fact, even if you can shoot at a fast shutter speed, a tripod can still be beneficial. It’ll force you to slow down and consider your composition more carefully.
Also, to prevent camera shake from pressing the shutter button, consider a remote shutter release.
3. Look for a focal point
Pretty much every shot needs some sort of focal point, and landscape photography is no different.
In fact, a landscape photograph without a focal point ends up looking rather empty. And it’ll leave your viewer’s eye wandering through the image with nowhere to rest.
Focal points can take many forms in landscape photos. They can range from a building or a structure (such as in the photo above) to an eye-catching tree, a boulder or rock formation, a silhouette, or something else entirely.
Also, think not only about what the focal point is, but where you should position it within the frame. The rule of thirds can be useful here.
4. Think foregrounds
Here’s one key tip that can make your landscape shots stand out:
Think carefully about the foreground of your composition…
…and include clear points of interest.
When you do this, you give those viewing the shot a path into the image. And you create a sense of depth, which is always a nice bonus.
5. Consider the sky
In landscape photography, you should always think about the sky.
Most landscapes will either have a dominant foreground or a dominant sky. And unless you include one or the other, your shot will end up looking boring.
Start by observing the sky. If it’s bland and lifeless, don’t let it dominate your shot; place the horizon in the upper third of the image (though you’ll want to make sure your foreground is interesting).
But if the sky is filled with drama, interesting cloud formations, or colors, then let it shine! Place the horizon in the bottom third of the frame to emphasize the heavens.
(Also, consider enhancing skies, either in post-production or with filters. For example, you can use a polarizing filter to add color and contrast.)
6. Use lines to lead the eye
One of the questions you should always ask yourself as you do landscape photography is:
“How am I leading the eye of those viewing this composition?”
There are a number of ways to lead the eye (and including a clear foreground subject works well). But one of my favorite ways is to provide viewers with lines that lead them into the image (such as the road in the photo above).
Lines give an image depth and scale. Plus, they can offer a point of interest by creating patterns in your shot.
7. Capture movement
When most people think about landscapes, they think of calm, serene, and passive environments. However, landscapes are rarely completely still – and if you can convey this movement, you’ll add drama and mood to your image. You’ll also create a point of interest.
But how can you convey movement in a landscape?
You can focus on wind in the trees, waves on a beach, water flowing over a waterfall, birds flying overhead, moving clouds, etc. Capturing this movement generally requires a longer shutter speed (sometimes a shutter speed of many seconds!).
Of course, a slow shutter speed means more light hitting your sensor, so you’ll either need a narrow aperture or an ND filter. You might also choose to shoot at the start or the end of the day when there is less light.
8. Work with the weather
A scene can change dramatically depending upon the weather, so choosing the right time to shoot is of major importance.
Many beginner photographers see a sunny day and think that it’s the best time to go out with their camera. However, an overcast day that is threatening rain might present you with a much better opportunity – you can create an image with real mood and ominous undertones.
Look for storms, wind, mist, dramatic clouds, sun shining through dark skies, rainbows, sunsets and sunrises, etc. And work with these variations in the weather rather than just waiting for the next sunny, blue sky.
9. Photograph during the golden hours
I chatted with a landscape photographer recently who told me that he never shoots during the day. His only shooting times are around dawn and dusk because that’s when the light is best, and that’s when the landscape comes alive.
These golden hours, as they’re often called, offer great landscape photography for a number of reasons.
For one, you get gorgeous golden light. I also love the angle of the low sun; it creates interesting patterns, dimensions, and textures, all of which can enhance a landscape photo.
10. Think about horizons
This is an old tip but a good one. Before you take a landscape shot, always consider the horizon on two fronts:
- Is it straight? While you can always straighten images later in post-production, it’s easier if you get it right in-camera.
- Where is the horizon positioned in the frame? A natural spot for the horizon is along one of the rule of thirds gridlines rather than in the middle of the frame. Of course, rules are meant to be broken – but I find that, unless you’re photographing a very striking scene, the rule of thirds usually works here.
11. Change your point of view
You drive up to the scenic lookout, get out of the car, grab your camera, turn it on, walk up to the barrier, raise the camera to your eye, rotate left and right a little, zoom a little, then take your shot – before getting back in the car and driving to the next scenic lookout.
We’ve all done it. However, this process doesn’t generally lead to the “wow” shot that many of us are looking for.
Instead, take a little more time with your landscape photos. Find a more interesting point of view.
You might start by finding a different spot to shoot from than the scenic lookout.
You can also look for new angles; this could mean getting down onto the ground to shoot from below, or heading up high to gain a nice vantage point.
Explore the environment and experiment with different viewpoints. You might find something truly unique!
Landscape photography tips: conclusion
Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re ready to capture some stunning landscape photography!
So grab your camera, head out, and find a subject to shoot.
It’ll be a lot of fun!
Now over to you:
Which of these landscape photography tips are you going to try first? And do you have any landscape photo tips of your own? Share your thoughts (and images!) in the comments below.