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6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography

In the following article, you will learn how to do creative landscape photography using a variety of different techniques.

The level of technical skill in photography these days is amazing. A quick Google search for any given location will show well-composed photos, taken during the correct lighting conditions, and edited to perfection. The number of people capable of taking these perfectly crafted photos is also increasing, and therein lies the problem. The number of people with similar photos diminishes all the others when placed together. What’s the solution to this? If you still want to take a photo of a particular landscape consider other creative approaches to photographing it.

So what’s the solution to this? If you still want to take a photo of a particular landscape consider using some other creative approaches to photographing it. Read on for six ideas to help you do better and more creative landscape photography.

6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - long exposure

This photo has used a long exposure to flatten the water. It’s also the same image used for the 360-degree panoramic image below.

#1 – Infrared Photography

Infrared photography is great fun to experiment with and has been around along time. This particular form of photography uses, as the name suggests, infrared light to capture images. Now you can’t see the infrared spectrum with your eyes, but your camera sensor or special infrared film can.

When using a digital camera you will either need to adjust the White Balance in camera or use post-processing to bring out the signature infrared look (note you can also get an old camera body converted especially for capturing infrared images). What is the infrared look? These photos have dark black skies, bright white foliage and often they have still water caused by a long exposure. In order to take this type of photo with a digital camera you will need a filter or a reconditioned camera.

6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - infrared

Infrared is a lot of fun if you’re prepared to put the time into learning this technique.

#2 – Aerial Photography

One of the best angles in photography is a high angle looking down, this can lead to some great creative landscapes. The advances in drone technology have seen many people take amazing photos from the sky, though the consumer-level drones still don’t produce the highest quality still images. There are a few options if you want to try out aerial photography yourself.

  • Airplanes – Yes get the window seat of your plane, and take photos from the sky. Ensure you have a high shutter speed, remember you’re plane is moving fast so you need a fast shutter speed to get a sharper image.
  • Drones The consumer drone will get you great angles, and images with good enough quality for online sharing, but not for printing. The professionals use larger drones that allow their dSLR to be attached to them.
  • Hot air balloons – It’s a great experience to take a hot air balloon ride, and the photos can be incredible. Even more extreme is attaching a camera to a weather balloon, and sending it up almost into space!
6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - aerial photo

A great angle if you can get it is overhead for a creative landscape. This photo was taken from a hot air balloon, but a drone would also get an angle like this.

#3 – Refraction

The concept of refraction to use light bent through a glass object is essentially how your lens puts an image onto your camera sensor. You can create this effect with spherical glass objects, or even ones filled with water. The image inside the refracting object will be upside down, and a vast amount of the scene behind the ball will be captured.

This is an interesting way to capture a creative landscape because the image inside the ball the image has the characteristics of a fisheye lens. Using a lens with a long focal length will compress the scene.

6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - refraction

This scene of St Paul’s Cathedral was captured inside a crystal ball, using the refraction technique.

#4 – Shoot a 360-Degree Panorama

This creative landscape idea utilizes post-processing to create a tiny planet effect. The effect is similar to the refraction idea, in that you are creating a globe, however, the look is very different.

To create this photo you will need a panoramic landscape image. If you’re a purest, then the panoramic landscape will be created by rotating the camera through 360 degrees. Once you have your panorama it needs to be reformatted into a square image, flipped upside down, and then the polar coordinates filter should be applied in Photoshop. To find this filter go to filter > distort > polar coordinates.

6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - 360-degree pano

This photo was turned into a tiny planet. It has the feel of a 360-degree panoramic photo.

#5 – Long Exposure

The different types of images that are possible with long exposures will lead to a burst of creative landscape photography. All you need is a tripod, and a camera capable of taking long exposure photos. The effect of long exposure is to make things move. The main subjects are car light trails, water, and cloud movement. Now, of course, astrophotography is also long exposure, but you’ll learn about that next.

  • Car light trails – These are produced by taking photos that are generally five seconds or longer. An overhead angle from a bridge or tall building is often best for shooting car trails, but photos from street level also look nice.
  • Water – Anywhere there is moving water, a long exposure can look nice. When photographing waterfalls the white water becomes like silk, with exposures over two seconds. The sea and its waves can be flattened by using long exposures over 10 seconds.
  • Cloud movement – Clouds moving across the sky make for a dreamy look in your photo, to achieve this you’ll need lots of clouds, with some clear sky. The faster the clouds move the easier it is to capture this movement. A sturdy tripod is important here, clouds move faster on windy days, so you need the camera to be still.
6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - long exposures

It’s a lot of fun to play creatively with traffic light trails in a photo. The photo of Big Ben in London is a popular one.

#6 – Astrophotography

One of the most popular forms of photography for those interested in landscapes is astrophotography. The latest cameras help you capture starry skies, with better noise performance at high ISO levels. Recent excursions to the deserts of Dubai and the coastline of southern England revealed a phalanx of photographers interested in this kind of photography. The most popular types of astrophotography are capturing the Milky Way, or showing the rotation of stars around the pole.

  • The Milky Way – Positioning the Milky Way in your frame can create a dramatic and creative landscape photo. This is the subject of a whole different article. The basics are to shoot at the constellation of Sagittarius between March and October in the northern hemisphere. Use the largest aperture you have, with exposures generally being 25 seconds long, and an ISO of 6400 or greater.
  • Star trails – The aim here is to point your camera at the north or south pole, and capture the earth’s rotation during a long exposure. The photo can be an ultra long 15-minute exposure or a series of shorter ones. The best method is to take multipl30-secondnd exposures, and then stack them together. StarStax is a good piece of software that will help you create this type of photo.
6 Ideas for More Creative Landscape Photography - Milky Way

Shooting the Milky Way is hard to photograph, so the chance of your photo being more unique is higher if you can do it.

Which creative landscape will you make?

There are many creative landscape photography ideas, which one will you choose to try out? There are other ideas we’d love to hear about as well, how did you make a creative scene your own?

In this article, I stuck strictly to still photos, but experiments with video allow for time-lapse or cinemagraphs as well. Please share your examples of the above styles that you’ve done, and tell us why and how you create your shot.

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Simon Bond
Simon Bond

is a specialist in creative photography techniques and is well known for his work with a crystal ball. His work has featured magazines including National Geographic Traveler. With over 8 years of experience in lensball photography, Simon is an expert in this field. Get some great tips by downloading his free e-book!
Do you want to learn about crystal ball photography? He has a course just for you! Get 20% off: DPS20.

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