Whether you’re a beginner or pro, landscape photography can be a rewarding and challenging pursuit.
There’s always something new to learn, and the possibilities are endless.
In this guide, we’ll share 25 tips to help you take your landscape photography skills to the next level.
From composition and camera settings, to post-processing and troubleshooting, we’ve got you covered.
So whether you’re just starting out or have been shooting landscapes for years, these tips will help take your photography to the next level.
Table of Contents
- What is Landscape Photography?
- Landscape Photography Tips
- 1. Plan The Scene and Location in Advance
- 2. Choosing the Right Camera
- Full Frame or Crop
- 3. Choosing the Right Lens
- 4. Bring a Tripod
- 5. Consider a Lens Filter
- 6. Overall Composition
- 7. Rule of Thirds
- 8. Leading Lines
- 9. Simplicity
- 10. Shoot in RAW
- 11. Understand Manual Exposure
- 12. Choose a Good Aperture
- 13. Understand Shutter Speed
- 14. Adjust Your ISO
- 15. Find and Use Good Lighting
- Time of Day
- Direction of Light
- 16. Nail Your Focus Down
- Manual Focus
- Back Button Focus
- Live View
- 17. Change Focus Between Images
- 18. Have a Straight Horizon
- Use Live View
- Rule of Thirds
- 19. Play With Depth of Field
- 20. Show Scale of Objects in Image
- 21. Use Contrast to Create Interest
- Adobe Lightroom
- Black and White
- 22. Experiment with Water Reflections
- 23. Use Long Exposures for Moving Water
- 24. Use a Remote Shutter Release or Self-Timer
- 25. Tell Someone You are Going to Take Landscape Photos
- What Makes a Good Landscape Photo?
- How do You Start Landscape Photography?
- What Skills Do You Need to be a Landscape Photographer?
- What is the Difference Between Nature and Landscape Photography?
- What Gear Do You Need for Landscape Photography?
- Additional Resources
What is Landscape Photography?
Landscape photography is a niche of photography that captures natural scenery, such as mountains, forests, rivers, and fields. It can also include cityscapes and man-made structures in the background.
Landscape photographers often try to capture the feeling of a place, rather than simply its physical appearance.
This means that they often wait for the perfect light or weather conditions before taking a picture. Landscape photography can be both challenging and rewarding.
It requires patience and an eye for detail, but the results can be truly stunning.
Whether you’re looking at a vast mountain range or a tiny flower in a field, landscape photography has the power to transport you to another place.
Landscape Photography Tips
Let’s dive into the 25 landscape photography tips you should know. Whether you’re a beginning landscape photographer or have been photographing landscapes for a while now, these tips should help you out.
1. Plan The Scene and Location in Advance
One of the most important aspects of landscape photography is planning.
This means both planning the scene itself and planning your location in advance.
When planning the scene, take into account the time of day, the weather, and the light. All of these factors can have a big impact on the final result.
For example, shooting during golden hour (the hour before sunset) will give you a much different result than shooting during midday.
Similarly, shooting in cloudy weather can give your photos a completely different feel than shooting on a clear day.
When planning your location, it’s important to consider the logistics. This includes things like how to get there, where to park, and what trails to take. It’s also a good idea to research the area in advance. This way, you’ll know what to expect and can plan accordingly.
All of this planning may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. By taking the time to plan ahead, you’ll be able to make the most of your time once you’re there.
2. Choosing the Right Camera
No matter what level you’re at, having the right camera gear is crucial for landscape photography.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your gear.
The megapixel count of your camera sensor is important, but don’t get too caught up in it. A higher megapixel count will give you more leeway when cropping and printing your photos, but it’s not necessary for every situation.
Full Frame or Crop
A full frame camera will give you the best image quality, but it’s not a necessity. A crop sensor camera can be just as good, and it’s usually cheaper and lighter.
3. Choosing the Right Lens
A wide angle lens is a must for landscape photography. Look for a lens with a focal length of 24mm or less (ideal).
Wide angle lenses work best for landscapes because they allow you to capture a large area in your frame.
This is especially important when shooting landscapes with a lot of detail, like forests or mountain ranges.
A telephoto lens can also be useful for landscape photography, but it’s not as essential as a wide angle lens. Telephoto lenses are good for isolating a specific area in your frame, such as a mountain peak or river. They can also be used for wildlife photography.
4. Bring a Tripod
A tripod is also a must. Landscape photography often requires long exposures, and a tripod will help keep your camera steady.
This means a using a tripod is feasible 99% of the time when photographing a landscape.
5. Consider a Lens Filter
Filters can be helpful in landscape photography, but they’re not required.
Polarizing filters can reduce glare and increase color saturation, while ND filters can allow for longer exposures.
6. Overall Composition
Although composition is important in any genre/niche of photography, it’s especially important in landscape photography because of the vastness of the scene.
Let’s dive into the few things to keep in mind when composing your landscape photos.
7. Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is a good starting point, but don’t be afraid to break it.
Rule of Thirds is a compositional guideline that states that an image should be divided into thirds, both horizontally and vertically.
The theory is that if you place your subject at the intersection of these lines, or along one of the lines, it will create a more pleasing and balanced composition.
While the Rule of Thirds is a good general guideline, don’t be afraid to break it. Sometimes, the best compositions don’t follow the rules.
8. Leading Lines
Leading lines are another important compositional element to keep in mind. Leading lines are lines that lead the eye into the frame, and they can be helpful in creating a sense of depth and dimension.
Common examples of leading lines include roads, rivers, and fences.
The key to using leading lines effectively is to make sure they lead the eye towards your subject. Otherwise, they’ll just be distracting.
When it comes to landscapes, simpler is often better.
A busy composition can be distracting and overwhelming, so try to keep the number of elements in your frame to a minimum.
One way to simplify your compositions is to focus on a single subject, such as a mountain or lake.
This will help you avoid cluttered compositions and keep the viewer’s attention on the main subject of your photo.
10. Shoot in RAW
RAW files are unprocessed image files that contain all of the data captured by your camera’s sensor.
This data can then be processed and edited in post-processing to create a finished image.
It also allows you to recover lost details in highlights and shadows that would otherwise be unrecoverable.
11. Understand Manual Exposure
In order to get the most out of your camera, it’s important to understand how to use manual exposure.
Manual exposure is when you set both the aperture and shutter speed yourself, rather than letting the camera choose for you.
There are a few things to keep in mind when setting your exposure:
Aperture: The aperture is the opening in the lens through which light passes. The size of the aperture affects the amount of light that reaches the sensor, as well as the depth of field (how much of the image is in focus).
Shutter Speed: The shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open, and it also affects the amount of light that reaches the sensor. A longer shutter speed will result in a brighter image, but it can also cause blur if the camera is not held perfectly still.
ISO: The ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor to light. A higher ISO results in a brighter image, but it can also cause more noise (grain) in the image.
Together, these three make up what’s known as the exposure triangle.
Let’s look at these individually.
12. Choose a Good Aperture
When shooting landscape photography, you’ll usually want to choose a small aperture (larger f-stop number) in order to get a large depth of field.
Depth of field is the portion of the image that is in sharp focus. A large depth of field means that more of the image will be in focus, from foreground to background.
A small aperture also has the benefit of reducing lens flare and light pollution.
So, when shooting landscape photography, it’s generally best to choose an aperture somewhere in the range of f/8 to f/16.
Of course, there will be times when you’ll want to break this rule. For example, if you’re shooting a close-up of a flower, you may want to choose a larger aperture (smaller f-number) in order to get a shallow depth of field.
This will cause the background to be blurry, which can help make your subject stand out.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the aperture you choose will affect your shutter speed. A larger aperture (smaller f-number) will require a faster shutter speed, as less light is reaching the sensor.
So, if you’re shooting in low light conditions, you may need to choose a smaller aperture (larger f-number) in order to get a longer shutter speed.
13. Understand Shutter Speed
In addition to the aperture, shutter speed is another important factor to consider when setting your exposure.
Shutter speed is the amount of time that the shutter is open, and it affects the amount of light that reaches the sensor.
A longer shutter speed will result in a brighter image, but it can also cause blur if the camera is not held perfectly still.
So, when shooting landscape photography, you’ll usually want to choose a shutter speed that is fast enough to avoid camera shake.
If you’re using a tripod, you may be able to get away with a slower shutter speed. But if you’re hand-holding your camera, it’s generally best to choose a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second or faster (using a tripod)
Of course, there will be times when you’ll want to use a slower shutter speed.
For example, if you’re shooting a waterfall, you may want to use a slow shutter speed in order to capture the movement of the water. In this case, you’ll need to use a tripod to avoid camera shake.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the shutter speed you choose will affect your aperture. A faster shutter speed will require a smaller aperture (larger f-number), as less light is reaching the sensor.
So, if you’re shooting in low light conditions, you may need to choose a slower shutter speed in order to get a larger aperture (smaller f-number).
14. Adjust Your ISO
In addition to aperture and shutter speed, ISO is another important factor to consider when setting your exposure.
ISO is the sensitivity of the sensor to light. A higher ISO results in a brighter image, but it can also cause more noise (grain) in the image.
So, when shooting landscape photography, you’ll usually want to choose a low ISO in order to avoid too much noise in your image.
An ISO of 100 or 200 is generally best for most situations. However, if you’re shooting in low light conditions, you may need to increase the ISO in order to get a proper exposure.
Just be sure to not increase the ISO too much, as this will cause too much noise in your image.
15. Find and Use Good Lighting
Lighting is one of the most important elements in photography, and that’s especially true in landscape photography.
The quality of light can make or break a photo, so it’s important to pay attention to it.
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to lighting:
Time of Day
The time of day: The time of day has a big impact on the quality of light.
The light is usually softer and more flattering in the early morning and late evening, while noon sun can be harsh and unflattering.
Direction of Light
The direction of light: The direction of light also affects the quality of light.
Backlighting (when the sun is behind your subject) can create a beautiful, soft light, while side lighting can create harsher shadows.
The weather: The weather can also affect the quality of light. cloudy days often result in softer, more flattering light, while sunny days can create harsh shadows.
16. Nail Your Focus Down
When shooting landscape photography, it’s important to make sure your focus is spot on.
There are a few different ways to do this:
Use manual focus: This is often the best option, as it allows you to fine-tune your focus and avoid autofocus issues.
Back Button Focus
Use back button focus: Back button focus is when you separate the focus and shutter release functions on your camera.
This allows you to lock in your focus without having to hold down the shutter button, making it easier to keep your focus locked on your subject.
Use a tripod: Using a tripod will help you keep your camera steady, making it easier to get a sharp image.
Use Live View: Many cameras have a live view mode that allows you to see a live preview of your image on the LCD screen. This can be helpful for getting your focus just right.
You’ll also want to set your focus point to a single point, rather than using the continuous autofocus mode. This will help you avoid accidentally focus on the wrong thing.
To further explore the subject of focusing in landscape photography, we also recommend this video by Mark Denney:
17. Change Focus Between Images
When shooting landscape photography, it’s important to focus on different parts of the scene to create depth and interest.
One way to do this is to use a technique called focus stacking. This is when you take multiple images at different focus points and then combine them into one image.
This allows you to have everything in the image be in focus, from the foreground to the background.
Another way to change focus between images is to simply focus on different parts of the scene when you take each photo. This is a good option if you’re not using a tripod and can’t do a focus stack.
Just be sure to overlap your images so that you have some overlapping areas in focus.
To further explore how to do focus stacking in landscape photography, we also recommend this video by Photo Tom:
18. Have a Straight Horizon
When shooting landscapes, it’s important to have a straight horizon. This can be tricky if you’re handholding the camera, but there are a few things you can do to help.
Use Live View
Use Live View: Many cameras have a live view mode that will allow you to see a live preview of your image on the LCD screen.
This can be helpful for getting the horizon straight.
Rule of Thirds
Use the rule of thirds: The rule of thirds is a compositional technique that helps you place your subject off center.
This can be helpful for getting the horizon line in the right place.
Use a level: Many cameras have a built-in electronic level that can help you keep the horizon straight.
Use a tripod: Using a tripod will help you keep your camera steady, making it easier to get a straight horizon.
19. Play With Depth of Field
Depth of field is the amount of the scene that is in sharp focus.
When shooting landscape photography, it’s often helpful to use a narrow aperture so that everything from the foreground to the background is in focus.
You can achieve this by using a narrow aperture (like f/11 or f/16). Refer to the aperture and f-stop chart again:
Remember, the smaller/narrower the aperture, the longer the shutter speed will need to be. So, you may need to use a tripod if you’re using a small aperture.
Experiment with different depths of field to see what looks best for your particular scene.
20. Show Scale of Objects in Image
When shooting landscape photography, it’s often helpful to show the scale of the objects in your scene.
One way to do this is to include something in the foreground that people can use as a reference point. This could be a person, a tree, or a rock.
Another way to show scale is to use leading lines. This is when you have lines in the scene that lead the eye into the distance.
21. Use Contrast to Create Interest
Contrast is the difference between light and dark tones.
High contrast images have a greater range of light and dark tones, while low contrast images have a smaller range.
Adding contrast to your images can help create interest and make your landscapes pop.
After all, Ansel Adams best photography traits was that he created exceptional contrast in his landscape photos.
There are a few ways to add contrast.
Use HDR: HDR (high dynamic range) photography is a technique that allows you to capture a greater range of light and dark tones. This can be helpful for adding contrast to your images.
Use lightroom: Lightroom is a photo editing software that allows you to adjust the contrast of your images.
Use curves: Curves is a photo editing tool that allows you to adjust the brightness of specific tones in your image. This can be helpful for adding contrast.
Black and White
Shoot in black and white: Shooting in black and white can also help add contrast to your images.
22. Experiment with Water Reflections
Reflections can add a lot of interest to your landscape photos.
If you’re shooting near water, experiment with different angles to get the best reflections.
You may also want to use a polarizing filter to reduce the glare on the water and make the reflections more visible.
23. Use Long Exposures for Moving Water
If you want to capture the movement of water in your landscape photos, you’ll need to use a long exposure.
A long exposure is when the shutter is open for a longer period of time, usually 1 second or more.
This allows the water to blur, giving it a smooth, silky look.
To shoot long exposures, you’ll need to use a tripod. This is because the shutter will be open for a long period of time, making it difficult to keep the camera steady.
You may also need to use a remote shutter release or self-timer to avoid shaking the camera when you press the shutter button.
If you’re shooting in bright daylight, you may also need to use a neutral density filter to reduce the amount of light entering the camera.
24. Use a Remote Shutter Release or Self-Timer
When shooting landscape photography, it’s often helpful to use a remote shutter release or self-timer.
This is because it allows you to avoid shaking the camera when you press the shutter button.
A remote shutter release is a cord that plugs into your camera and lets you trigger the shutter without touching the camera.
25. Tell Someone You are Going to Take Landscape Photos
This last tip has to do with safety. Oftentimes, on our hunt for landscape photos, it may take us to secluded areas and trails that could be hard to navigate.
In a worst case scenario, iff you were to get lost or hurt while on your photo expedition, it would be helpful if someone knew where you were going and when you planned on coming back.
So, before you head out, make sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
That way, if something happens, they’ll know where to look for you.
What Makes a Good Landscape Photo?
Now that we’ve gone over some tips for taking better landscape photos, let’s talk about what makes a good landscape photo.
Generally speaking, a good landscape photo is one that is visually pleasing and evokes an emotional response from the viewer.
It should also be well composed and have a strong focus.
Here are a few more specific things to look for when critiquing your landscape photos:
- Is the horizon level?
- Are there any distracting elements in the photo?
- Is the photo well exposed?
- Do the colors complement each other?
- Is the photo interesting?
- Does it tell a story?
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when taking landscape photos. But don’t let that discourage you!
How do You Start Landscape Photography?
You may be wondering how you can get started in this genre of photography.
If you’re new to photography, the best way to start is by using your smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera.
This will allow you to get a feel for composition and exposure without having to worry about all the technical stuff.
Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can start experimenting with more advanced techniques, like long exposures and HDR photography.
What Skills Do You Need to be a Landscape Photographer?
In addition to composition and exposure, there are a few other skills that will help you take better landscape photos.
Outside of the technical skills and tips such as those we’ve gone over in this article, here are a few more things you’ll need to be a successful landscape photographer:
Patience: Landscape photography often requires waiting for the perfect light or conditions. So, it’s important to be patient and be prepared to wait for the right moment.
Stamina: Hiking to reach the best vantage points can be tiring. So, it’s important to have the stamina to hike long distances and carry all your gear.
Adventure: Be prepared to go on adventures and explore new places. You never know when you’ll stumble upon the perfect landscape photo opportunity.
Creativity: Finally, creativity is key
What is the Difference Between Nature and Landscape Photography?
Nature photography refers to the genre of photography that focuses on capturing images of nature and wildlife.
On the other hand, landscape photography is a genre of photography that captures images of landscapes.
This can include everything from mountains and forests to cityscapes and seascapes.
So, while nature photography and landscape photography overlap, they are two distinct genres.
What Gear Do You Need for Landscape Photography?
Now that we’ve gone over some tips and tricks for taking better landscape photos, let’s talk about the gear you’ll need to get started in this genre of photography.
Generally speaking, you’ll need a camera, a tripod, and a few other accessories.
Here’s a more detailed list of the gear you’ll need for landscape photography:
- A camera: This can be anything from a smartphone to a DSLR.
- A tripod: A tripod is essential for taking sharp, well-exposed landscape photos.
- A remote shutter release: A remote shutter release allows you to take photos without touching your camera, which is important for preventing camera shake.
- A wide-angle lens: A wide-angle lens is important for capturing the full breadth of a landscape.
- A polarizing filter: A polarizing filter helps reduce glare and increase color saturation.
- A ND filter: A ND filter is important for taking long exposure photographs.
- A camera bag: A camera bag is important for protecting your gear while you’re out and about.
With this gear, you’ll be well on your way to taking amazing landscape photos.
Landscape photography is a beautiful genre of photography that captures the natural world.
In this article, we’ve gone over 25 landscape photography tips to help you take better photos.
We’ve also talked about the gear you’ll need to get started in this genre of photography.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start taking some amazing landscape photos!
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also an author on Photofocus.com.