Facebook Pixel Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Most folks don’t realize it, but capturing a beautiful image of a sprawling vista or a mountain range is no small feat. Landscape photography isn’t just about aiming your camera at something pretty and pressing the shutter. It’s about technique, lighting, composition, gear, knowing how to make the most of your settings, and more.

Fortunately, with the right tips, tricks, and techniques, even a beginner can create stunning landscape shots. And that’s what I share in this article: everything you ever wanted to know about landscape photography, including the techniques that are practically guaranteed to net you great shots, no matter your level of experience.

Read on to discover:

I’ve also included plenty of example photos; that way, you can see the tips in action (and you can be confident they really do work!).

Let’s get started.

The best landscape photography gear

You might be thinking you can just use your smartphone to snap some photos, and you’re not entirely wrong. Smartphones have come a long way, and their cameras can produce some great shots. But, let’s say you want more: more control, more detail, and the ability to create large prints that do justice to the scenes you’re capturing. That’s where specialized landscape photography equipment comes into play. Investing in the right gear can make a big difference.

An interchangeable-lens camera

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

If you’re serious about tackling the landscape genre, you’ll want to pick a good landscape photography camera, such as a full-frame DSLR or mirrorless model. A Canon EOS R5 or a Sony a7R IV, for instance, will offer plenty of megapixels (for making large prints) as well as solid low-light capabilities (for doing astrophotography). If your budget is tight, consider an older full-frame DSLR (such as a Canon 6D or a Nikon D800). Remember that larger sensors are generally better – but a smaller-sensor APS-C or Micro Four Thirds camera can certainly get the job done.

A wide-angle lens

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Once you’ve acquired a good camera, you’ll want to get your hands on some quality landscape photo lenses. A wide-angle lens is a good place to start. The beauty of a wide-angle lens is that it captures much more of the scene in front of you. If you can afford only one lens initially, I usually suggest a wide-to-standard zoom lens. Something like a 24-70mm f/4 lens is a solid choice for those just beginning their photography journey.

Over time, you’ll likely want to diversify. A 70-200mm f/4 lens, for example, allows you to capture more intimate landscape scenes without sacrificing quality. And if you’re looking for something to capture sprawling vistas, an ultra-wide 12-24mm f/4 lens is perfect, though it can be a bit pricey.

A tripod

clouds below the mountains

While I discuss camera settings in detail later on, it’s important to recognize that most landscape photography takes place at narrow apertures and when the light is low. It’s certainly possible to achieve well-exposed shots, but often only if you lengthen your shutter speed to 1/30s and beyond.

If you’ve ever tried to handhold your camera at 1/30s, you’ll know that it’s really hard; unless your hands are incredibly steady and your technique is outstanding, you’ll end up with unusably blurry images. (Also, even the steadiest photographers regularly fail to handhold images at one-second shutter speeds and beyond!)

That’s where a good landscape tripod comes in handy. You can use it to stabilize your camera and keep your photos sharp for 1-second, 5-second, and even 30-second long exposures. Yes, tripods can be expensive, but the best ones work great for years. Think of it as an investment in the sharpness of your photos!

By the way: Even if the light is strong enough to give you a fast shutter speed, a tripod can still be beneficial. It’ll force you to slow down and consider your composition more carefully.

A few filters

Beginners often overlook the importance of filters. In the excitement of capturing that perfect shot, it’s easy to forget that sometimes you need a bit of help from additional gear. A circular polarizer is one such filter that can be a game-changer. It reduces unwanted reflections when you’re photographing water bodies and makes the colors pop in those autumnal forest shots. So it’s a must-have in your kit.

Neutral density (ND) filters are another set of tools you’ll find invaluable. These filters cut down the amount of light entering your lens, allowing you to play with longer shutter speeds. The result? Breathtaking long-exposure shots, whether it’s silky-smooth water or wispy clouds.

Then there are graduated neutral density filters to consider. They can be useful but are not essential; you can achieve similar effects using high dynamic range (HDR) techniques.

Key accessories

Gear doesn’t stop at just the camera and lenses. If you’re trekking through nature to find that one-of-a-kind shot, you’ll need a few extras to make your life easier. A comfortable, roomy backpack is your first essential item. Trust me, it makes all the difference when you’re hiking for hours to find that perfect spot.

Don’t forget extra batteries. Imagine the sky transforming into those magical twilight colors and your camera dying on you—heartbreaking. Always pack more batteries than you think you’ll need. The same goes for memory cards; you don’t want to run out of storage space just when the lighting gets perfect.

And while we’re talking about storage, an external hard drive can give you peace of mind. You’ve worked hard to capture those beautiful landscapes; backing them up ensures they’re safe, come what may.

The best camera settings for landscape photography

When you’re out in the field, camera settings can make or break your landscape photos. Achieving that breathtaking shot isn’t just about being in the right place at the right time; it’s also important that you carefully adjust your settings to get the result that you’ve envisioned. Here’s what I recommend:

Shoot in Manual mode

landscape photography tips sand dunes

If you want to create landscape photos that are both artistic and full of detail, then I highly recommend you learn to use your camera’s Manual mode setting.

You see, Manual mode lets you work independently with the three exposure variables, each of which affects your images differently:

  • The aperture lets you brighten or darken the image, and it also lets you increase or decrease the depth of field (i.e., the amount of the image that’s in focus).
  • The shutter speed lets you brighten or darken the image, and it also lets you increase or decrease the amount of motion blur present in the image
  • The ISO lets you brighten or darken the image, but the higher the ISO, the more noise (detail-destroying specks of light and color) that’ll appear in your file

While I discuss my landscape photography settings recommendations in more detail below, it’s important to realize that, by taking complete control of your camera, you can adjust the image exposure, boost the depth of field, prevent noise, and include artistic motion blur effects at will.

And while you can always use semi-automatic modes like Aperture Priority to shoot landscapes, in my experience, it’s best just to take charge and handle your settings directly!

Use a narrow aperture for maximum depth of field

In landscape photography, a deep depth of field is almost always the way to go. In other words, you should try to keep as much of your scene in focus as possible.

Why? A landscape that’s sharp from front to back offers all sorts of beautiful details for the eye to explore – and it also feels more real, like the viewer could step forward and fall right into the scene.

Now, the simplest way to maximize depth of field is to choose a small aperture setting (i.e., a large f-number, such as f/11 or f/16). The smaller your aperture, the greater the depth of field, and the more the landscape will be in focus.

An image like this, which features tack-sharp detail from foreground to background, requires an aperture of at least f/11:

landscape photography tips winding mountain road

Choose a slow shutter speed and a low ISO

If you’ve ever been frustrated by underexposed landscapes, you’re not alone. A narrow aperture will get you the depth of field you’re after, but it’ll also reduce the light that reaches your camera sensor and prevent your shots from featuring the clear details that you’re after.

Therefore, make sure you pair a narrow aperture with a slow shutter speed. Slow shutter speeds, particularly around 1/60s or slower, allow more light to hit the sensor. This compensates for the limited light that passes through a narrow aperture.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Do keep in mind, however, that a slow shutter speed demands a stable tripod. Unless you want your landscape to resemble an abstract painting, keeping your camera stationary is non-negotiable!

Now let’s talk ISO. Raising the ISO brightens the image, but it’s a double-edged sword. High ISOs introduce noise, that grainy texture that’s a mortal enemy to image quality. Noise not only ruins details but also messes with the dynamic range. So the takeaway? Keep your ISO low, and if you need to boost the exposure, adjust the shutter speed instead.

Landscape photography tips

Ready to learn how you can take your landscape shots from zero to hero? In this section, I offer my best tips to work with the light, create breathtaking compositions, and so much more.

1. Scout potential locations in advance

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Think of landscape photography as a well-prepared meal. Scouting is the prep work you do before the actual cooking begins. Trust me, the key to capturing that once-in-a-lifetime shot often involves a lot of prep work, just like in the kitchen. The importance of scouting can’t be overstated. Sometimes, you get that lucky shot just by showing up, but most times, the magic happens because you knew where to be and when.

Start by researching potential locations online or even through old-fashioned topographical maps. Whenever possible, visit your selected spots beforehand. This might be days, weeks, or even just hours before the actual shoot. Look at the landscape’s geometry, and visualize how different elements will fit into the frame. Lighting is another crucial aspect to consider. Apps that show the sun’s trajectory can be invaluable tools for this. Knowing where the light will fall helps you predict how your subject will look under different lighting conditions. So whether it’s a well-known tourist spot or an unexplored corner of a national park, give yourself plenty of time to scout. Your portfolio will thank you for it.

2. Look for a focal point

Once you’ve mastered your settings, it’s time to start thinking about your landscape photography composition (i.e., the arrangement of elements in the scene).

And while composition can be a complex topic, I can offer a few basic guidelines that’ll make a huge difference to your photos.

First, pretty much every great landscape shot needs some sort of focal point – a main subject that draws the eye and captures the viewer’s attention.

house by the ocean

In my experience, a landscape photograph without a focal point ends up looking rather bland and empty. Plus, it leaves the viewer’s eye wandering through the image with nowhere to rest.

Note that focal points can take many forms, including:

  • Buildings and structures (like in the photo above)
  • Eye-catching trees
  • Boulders or rock formations
  • Silhouetted wildlife
  • A person

Then, once you’ve determined your landscape photo’s focal point, think carefully about where to position it within the frame. Try to go beyond a conventional “centered” composition (with the main subject sitting statically in the middle of the shot). Instead, try using the rule of thirds, or go for a minimalist composition by placing the focal point off to the side.

3. Include a stunning foreground

Beginner landscape photographers tend to find a beautiful scene, point their camera, and then hit the shutter button.

And while the resulting shots look nice, they’re often missing something powerful:

An eye-catching foreground, one that immediately captures the viewer’s attention and helps lead them into the scene. (A good foreground can also make the scene appear more three-dimensional, which is almost always a good thing!)

Good foregrounds tend to feature beautiful details, such as flowers, patches of foliage, water moving through a stream, glistening rocks, or waves lapping up on the sand. This next image, for example, uses a field full of flowers to add foreground interest:

landscape photography tips beach

Note that you’ll generally need a wide-angle lens to pull this off. The wider the field of view, the easier it’ll be to include both a beautiful foreground and a stunning background. Make sense?

4. Don’t forget about the sky

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

In landscape photography, you should always, always, always think about the sky.

Clear skies, for instance, tend to look bland and lifeless, while a mix of clouds and sun offers all sorts of interest (and explosive colors at sunrise and sunset!).

I like to check the weather forecast before planning my landscape photography outings; that way, I can head out on partly cloudy days and maximize my time spent with beautiful skies.

Now, I’m not saying that you’ll never capture great landscape photos on clear days. But if you’re faced with a clear sky, consider waiting to see if you get a couple of clouds – or, if you don’t have the time, try to subordinate the sky to the rest of the scene by placing it in the upper third of the image and contrasting it with a stunning foreground.

On the other hand, 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, like this:

sunset colorful sky

Pro tip: If your skies aren’t looking quite as intense as you’d like, consider enhancing them with filters. Neutral density filters will let you use long shutter speeds that stretch the clouds like cotton candy, while graduated neutral density filters will help you balance the sky and foreground exposure so you can capture plenty of detail.

5. Simplify your compositions

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Have you ever looked at a landscape photo and felt overwhelmed? Maybe it’s bursting with elements—trees, rocks, animals, and so on. But sometimes, less really is more. Focusing on minimal elements can amplify the visual impact of your shots.

Start by scanning your scene. What can you take away? Keep asking this question until you’re left with just the core elements that make the scene special.

Now, consider framing your shot with an emphasis on shapes and lines rather than the actual subject. A tree becomes a vertical line, a lake turns into a flat plane. This abstraction helps you see the scene in terms of geometry, making it easier to frame a compelling shot.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

What you’re left with are landscape photos that almost feel like modern art pieces. The simplicity draws the viewer in, guiding their eyes effortlessly through the image. Trust me, this technique will lead to some of your most memorable captures.

6. Use leading lines to add dynamism

Leading lines are lines that encourage the eye through the image (generally toward the main subject; see above!).

And in landscape photography, a good leading line or two can be the difference between a mediocre snapshot and a great image.

(Why? Leading lines draw the viewer into the photo, plus they add lots of depth!)

Now, leading lines might seem hard to find, but they’re actually pretty common. You just have to know where to look! For instance, you can create leading lines using:

  • Roads
  • Sand patterns
  • Receding waves
  • Rivers
  • Cracks in ice
  • Leaves
  • Fallen logs

Really, anything line-like can work. The trick is to position the lines in the foreground. Then use a wide-angle lens and get down low, so that the leading lines appear huge in the frame and immediately captivate the viewer:

road in the desert

7. Include human elements to add scale

Capturing the vastness of a landscape often poses a real challenge. Many times, a picture fails to convey the grandeur of a scene because there’s nothing for scale. Here’s a way around that: include something human for perspective.

Think about it. A road winding into the horizon under towering mountains suddenly brings those peaks into dramatic focus. You see that road, and you instantly know those mountains are gigantic.

Now, imagine photographing a solitary figure next to an awe-inspiring redwood. Instantly, you’re not just looking at a tree; you’re looking at a monument of nature. That person becomes a measuring stick for the tree’s grandiosity.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Of course, whether you want to include human elements is entirely up to you! Some photographers might view this approach as muddying the purity of a natural scene, and if you feel the same, that’s completely okay.

Additionally, keep in mind that balance is key. Human elements should complement, not distract. Don’t include too much human content. Instead, integrate the artificial elements within the composition. When done right, the effect can be nothing short of spectacular.

8. Use color to your advantage

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Thinking about colors in landscape photography isn’t just about capturing a pretty sunset. Color management can make or break a photo, influencing the viewer’s emotions and directing their eyes through the composition.

So, how can you leverage color to elevate your landscape shots? One effective approach is to use complementary colors. These are colors that sit opposite each other on the color wheel. Think of the classic duo of blue and orange. When you frame a sunlit canyon against a clear blue sky, these complementary colors can create a striking contrast that adds depth and excitement to your shot.

Another approach involves analogous colors, those that are adjacent on the color wheel. These can imbue your photos with a sense of harmony. Consider a woodland scene dappled with the golden light of the setting sun. The warm hues of yellow, orange, and red can create an inviting, peaceful atmosphere that draws viewers in.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

And don’t overlook the power of color to convey mood. Colors are more than just eye candy; they can serve as an emotional language. Imagine capturing a misty morning in the mountains. The cooler shades of blue and gray might evoke feelings of solitude or introspection.

You also have the option of limiting color to make a specific element stand out. For example, a field of green grass against a blue sky is visually appealing. But include a single, bright-red tulip, and suddenly you have a focal point that commands attention.

The most experienced landscape photographers are selective about the colors they include or exclude from a shot. A splash of unexpected color can captivate viewers, but remember that poorly managed colors can also distract. So, next time you’re framing a shot, take a moment to think about the color composition. You might be surprised at how much of an impact it can make.

9. Capture movement with long-exposure techniques

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 extra drama and moodiness to your images.

(Plus, you can use movement to create leading lines or to produce an eye-catching focal point.)

Here’s what you do:

First, look for motion, even if it’s subtle. Search for wind in the trees, waves on the beach, water flowing through a stream or over a waterfall, birds flying, or clouds moving overhead. Mount your camera on a tripod and compose your shot.

Second, lengthen your shutter speed to 1/30s and beyond, then set your exposure. Note that different shutter speeds will give you dramatically different results, so it’s a good idea to take several shots while making adjustments. If you’re working in bright conditions, consider using an ND filter or a polarizer to reduce the light hitting the sensor; that way, you can drop your shutter speed further without worrying about overexposure.

Note that landscape photographers achieve all kinds of different effects simply by experimenting with various shutter speeds. A 1/15s shot, for instance, will blur moving water but retain plenty of detail in the sky, like this:

water rushing in on beach

Whereas a 30s shot will heavily blur the water and start to stretch the clouds.

At the end of the day, working with movement is a lot of fun. Just embrace the effect and see what you can create!

10. Photograph during the golden hour and blue hour

The golden hour is the time just before sunset and just after sunrise, when the sun is low in the sky and produces a beautiful, warm light.

And the golden hour is amazing for landscape photography. For one, the sun softly illuminates the scene, emphasizing all the little details. Look at how the golden light falls perfectly on these snow-covered trees:

landscape photography tips snow at golden hour

The golden hour also offers lots of cotton-candy-colored skies, and the angle of the low sun creates interesting shadows while enhancing textures.

But the golden hour isn’t the only time of day that’s great for landscape photography. Light during the blue hour – that is, the time just before sunrise and just after sunset – can look amazing, too: soft, ethereal, cool, and magical. (Plus, due to the limited light, the blue hour is a great time to do long-exposure landscape shots!)

Now, you might be wondering:

Should I only photograph landscapes during the golden hour and the blue hour? Or is it okay to head out at other times, too?

That’s a good question. In my experience, it’s possible to get beautiful landscape photos on heavily overcast days, but you’ll want to find the right subjects – such as foliage, forests, and waterfalls – and I’d recommend including very little of the sky in your composition.

As for midday landscape photography in bright sun: Avoid it whenever possible. Midday sun will cast unflattering shadows, wash out colors, and produce lots of unpleasant contrast.

11. Capture intimate landscape shots

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Most landscape photos you see employ a wide-angle lens. And there’s a good reason for it: wide-angle lenses capture sweeping vistas effectively. But sometimes, the real beauty lies in the details. Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your landscape. This doesn’t mean you should only use macro lenses to highlight the intricacies of leaves on a forest floor, though that’s a valid approach.

Telephoto lenses can also be your best friends. These lenses let you zero in on specific elements, like interesting rock formations or a cluster of vibrant autumn trees. The result can be an image that feels more intimate, offering the viewer a unique point of view. The landscape is filled with overlooked treasures, from patterns in the mountains to the way light hits a bunch of leaves. By breaking away from the convention of wide-angle shooting, you can find beauty in unexpected places.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

12. Test out creative landscape photo ideas

Landscape photography is immensely popular, and because of this, it can sometimes feel like every shot has been taken, every angle explored. But the creative possibilities are endless if you’re willing to step out of the traditional box. Intentional camera movement, for instance, can produce a pleasing blur effect that’s both dreamy and artistic. It’s not the crystal-clear, hyper-detailed shot that’s often prized in landscape photography, but the abstract results can be stunning in their own right.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Want more? Consider freelensing. This technique involves detaching the lens and holding it in front of the camera body, tilting it slightly to create a unique focus plane. This can add unexpected blurs and light leaks, offering a fresh take on a familiar landscape.

Don’t let yourself be confined to conventional lenses, either. Specialty lenses like a fisheye can bring a whole new perspective to your shots, distorting reality in a visually interesting way. The key is to let go of preconceptions. Let your creativity lead the way.

13. Don’t be afraid of bad weather

mountain rainbow

A landscape scene can change dramatically depending on the weather – so it’s essential that you plan ahead and carefully pick your time and location.

As I emphasized above, partial cloud cover at sunrise and sunset makes for a stunning sky (and partial cloud cover looks great during the blue hour, too!). But other types of weather are great for landscape photography, including:

  • Fog
  • Rain
  • Dark, heavy clouds
  • Snow
  • Rainbows

Unfortunately, many of these weather events don’t last very long, so it’s important that you always keep one eye on the forecast. And if you do expect fog, snow, or storms, choose your location in advance. Fog and snow look great in forest scenes, while rain and stormy clouds can dramatically enhance beach and ocean shots.

Pro tip: Bad weather, while highly photogenic, can be dangerous! Always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go, always wear proper protective gear, and bring proper protective gear for your equipment, too. I recommend a waterproof camera cover, though you can always get away with a modified trash bag plus some rubber bands (to secure it around the lens).

14. Photograph the landscape at night

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Night photography is like stepping into a whole new realm, and while I can’t cover it entirely here, I can give you enough to get started.

You see, night scenes offer a celestial spectacle, but they require some special skills and gear. First and foremost, know your location. Scouting becomes even more vital when you can only use a flashlight to illuminate potential compositions.

A sturdy tripod is your best friend for night photography. Long exposures are essential to capture the low light, and any camera shake will ruin the shot. You’re likely to use shutter speeds of 20 seconds or more, so make sure your tripod can handle the job.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Interested in astrophotography? A wide-angle lens with a fast aperture, like f/2.8, can be a valuable addition to your kit. This setup allows you to capture the night sky while keeping star movement to a minimum. To achieve this, you might need to ramp up your ISO settings to around 1600 or higher. But don’t worry, the night sky is forgiving when it comes to noise.

15. Shoot after (or during) a snowfall

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Few scenes are as enchanting as a snow-covered landscape. The world seems to pause, wrapped in a soft white blanket. However, capturing these winter wonderlands comes with its own set of challenges. For starters, your camera will need some extra care. If the snow is still falling while you’re shooting, consider using a rain cover for your gear. Keeping a cloth handy to wipe any snow off your lens can also be a lifesaver.

Once you’ve safeguarded your equipment, it’s time to get creative. A snow-covered backdrop can bring out dramatic contrasts. Picture the dark outline of a barren tree against a white sky. The key here is embracing simplicity. A snow-covered scene already feels minimalistic. Don’t clutter it; let the snow speak for itself.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Note: Rapid temperature changes can lead to condensation forming on your lens. To avoid this problem when heading back indoors at the end of a shoot, seal your camera in a bag or some airtight compartment before entering the warmth. Once you bring your gear inside, wait for a few hours before opening up your bag; that way, your camera has time to adjust to the indoor temperature.

16. Don’t neglect shallow depth of field techniques

Deep depth of field is almost synonymous with landscape photography. You’d generally want everything from the foreground to the horizon in sharp focus. But here’s a twist: using a shallow depth of field can give your images an entirely different, magical quality. Opening up your aperture to f/2.8 or f/4 lets in a lot of light and significantly blurs out the background.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

The key is to focus attentively on your subject. Let’s say you’ve got a rock or a field of grasses that you want to highlight. Adjust your focus right on it. Then, when you take the shot, the background transforms into a creamy, dreamy blur.

It’s not your typical landscape photo, and that’s the point. You can create a more intimate, fine-art look that highlights smaller details in a grand landscape.

17. Do black-and-white landscape photography

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Color certainly has its charm. The pop of orange in a sunset or the vibrancy of a field of wildflowers can be stunning. Yet, there’s something captivating about black-and-white landscape photography. With a focus on contrast, texture, and form, black-and-white photos strip away distractions. They direct your attention to the core of the scene.

In the old days, photographers started with black-and-white because that’s all they had. So when you’re shooting in monochrome, you’re kind of paying homage to the roots of landscape photography. Plus, you don’t have to decide right away whether you’ll keep the photo in black-and-white. If you’re shooting in RAW, which I highly recommend, you can make that choice later during post-processing.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

That said, it’s useful to consider black-and-white conversion while shooting. Look for elements that will pop in grayscale, such as stark contrasts or intricate textures, and really commit to a monochrome approach!

18. Think about the horizon line

tree in a field landscape photography

This landscape photography tip is quick and easy:

Always pay attention to the horizon line, and do whatever you can to keep it straight.

A crooked horizon line looks incredibly amateurish, and while you can fix this in post-processing, you’ll lose pixels along the edge of the frame – which will reduce your ability to print large and (even worse!) can cut off key compositional elements.

So make sure you get it right in-camera! Here, viewfinder gridlines can be helpful. Most cameras have these activated by default, but if you don’t see them, head into the settings menu and switch them on.

And if you use the gridlines but you still struggle to keep things straight, you might consider purchasing a bubble level. You can attach one of these to your camera’s hot shoe, and you can use it as a reference when setting up new compositions.

19. Combine light and shadow

You might have heard the saying that photography is the art of painting with light. Well, it’s not just about the light; it’s also about the shadows. Combining light and shadow in your landscape shots can result in some truly stunning images. The contrast between illuminated areas and dark shadows adds depth, creates mood, and draws the eye to key parts of the frame.

Waiting for the perfect interplay of light and shadow often requires patience. One of the best times to capture this is when the sky is overcast, and the sun is peeking through the clouds. When that ray of sunshine breaks through and lights up a portion of the landscape while leaving the rest in shadow, you’ve got yourself a golden opportunity.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Another scenario is during sunrise or sunset. Low-angle light naturally creates long shadows and can illuminate just the tops of hills and trees while leaving other areas dark. The contrasting elements give your photo a dynamic, three-dimensional feel that flat lighting just can’t achieve.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

So, the next time you’re out with your camera and the lighting seems challenging, don’t pack up. Stick around. Watch the light and shadow dance across the landscape. You might just find that the most captivating shots come when you blend both elements harmoniously.

20. Try HDR techniques

HDR photography sometimes gets a bad rap, largely because of overdone, unrealistic results. But this doesn’t mean you should shy away from it. When you’re faced with a challenging scene, such as a sunset over the ocean, your camera might not capture the full range of light. That’s where HDR comes in handy. The idea is to take multiple shots at different exposure levels. One for the shadows, one for the midtones, and one for the highlights.

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Once you’ve got your series of photos, the next step is blending them together. Software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom can merge these images into one. The result? A photo with details in both the darkest and brightest areas, much like how our eyes perceive the world.

But remember, subtlety is your friend. It’s easy to go overboard with contrast and saturation sliders. Less is often more when it comes to HDR in landscape photography. Aim for a balanced, natural look to bring out the best in your photos.

21. Change your point of view

mountain astrophotography

Are you looking to capture strikingly unique landscape images?

Then you’ve got to move past those basic “lookout” shots, where you point your camera at a beautiful scene, then snap a photo.

Instead, take a little more time with each landscape scene. In particular, look for an interesting angle or point of view, where you approach the composition from an interesting direction. You should have fun with this; try getting down low, finding a high vantage point, walking off to the left or the right, or even shooting from directly above (see the next tip!).

Often, these unconventional images are astonishingly powerful, in part because they show the landscape from a never-before-seen perspective.

It’s important to bear in mind, however, that you should still pay careful attention to your gear and lighting. A unique perspective can add a lot to an image, but the best landscape shots combine well-chosen gear, great lighting, and a great perspective for a beautiful result.

22. Capture aerial landscape images

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

Taking your photography to the sky opens up a new world of possibilities. Aerial landscape photography has grown in popularity, thanks largely to the accessibility of drones. These nifty flying cameras allow you to capture views that were once only possible from helicopters or planes.

But capturing great aerial shots isn’t as easy as simply sending a drone up and hitting the shutter button. It’s an art form that has its own rules and challenges. Your composition skills are more important than ever. After all, from up high, you can see patterns and shapes that are invisible from ground level. Rivers look like veins, roads like stitches, and forests like broccoli!

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

When you’re starting out with aerial photography, I recommend studying the work of other drone photographers. Look for elements that make their shots effective. Is it the angle? The lighting? The way they’ve framed a particular landscape feature? As you dissect these factors, you’ll find it easier to replicate them in your own work.

Of course, safety and legality are paramount. Always abide by the rules governing drone use in your area. Most countries have regulations about where you can and can’t fly, and some require a license. Make sure you’re informed before taking off.

Once you’re up there, the sky’s the limit—literally. Whether you’re capturing the intricate patterns of a cityscape or the sweeping vistas of a mountain range, aerial photography brings a fresh perspective to landscapes. With some practice and a good eye for composition, you’ll be creating jaw-dropping images in no time.

23. Don’t forget to edit your landscape photos

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

If you shoot digital—and most of us do these days—editing isn’t optional; it’s essential. Don’t think of editing as cheating or as something that sullies the “purity” of your photos. Trust me, even the best photos can benefit from a little post-processing.

Imagine editing as the final brushstroke in your creative process. Sure, you can get great shots straight out of the camera, but they’ll almost always look better with a bit of tweaking. Simple things like adjusting exposure, white balance, and contrast can make a world of difference. These basic tweaks aim to make the photo match what your eyes saw. That’s what we call “getting it right in camera.”

Landscape Photography: A Comprehensive Guide (+ 23 Expert Tips)

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Editing software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop offers tons of creative possibilities. Want to emphasize the golden hue of a sunset? You can do that. Fancy adding a vignette to make your subject pop? It’s all possible. And as you grow more confident, you can start playing with advanced techniques like dodging and burning. This helps to add a sense of depth and dimension to your landscapes.

In essence, editing allows you to achieve the photo you envisioned – or even to put your personal stamp on a photo. So don’t skip this step. Even a few small adjustments can transform a good photo into a masterpiece.

Landscape photography tips: conclusion

landscape photography tips waterfall in Iceland

Now that you’ve finished this article, you’re ready to capture some stunning landscape photography! From choosing the right lens and filters to experimenting with settings and creative methods, these guidelines are designed to arm you with the knowledge you need to create captivating images.

But remember: Landscape photography is a journey. It’s not just about capturing pretty scenes; it’s about conveying your own perspective of the world. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or someone looking to refine your skills, always remember that the best tool you have is your own vision.

So grab your camera, head out, and find a subject to shoot. See what you can create, and let your inner artist run wild!

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.

What is landscape photography?

Landscape photography is the photography of natural scenes, such as mountains, prairies, beaches, forests, and more.

What makes a good landscape photograph?

The best landscape photos are well exposed, feature beautiful light, and include a beautiful composition.

Is landscape photography easy?

With the right knowledge, capturing great landscape shots isn’t too difficult. It often does take perseverance, though!

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Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

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