The great thing about landscape photography is that there are so many possibilities for creating an awesome photo.
Whether you prefer mountains or beaches, forests or rivers or something in between, there’s a landscape for every photographer.
The question is, how do you take better landscape photos?
Here’s 11 can’t-miss landscape photography tips that will help you improve the results you get.
Use Negative Space
Sometimes landscape photos can look and feel a bit overwhelming. That’s why simplifying things and utilizing negative space can be so effective.
Rather than trying to cram everything about a landscape into a single frame, try framing your photos in a way that surrounds the subject with negative space, as shown above.
Not only does this help viewers zero in on the subject more effectively (like the person in the photos above), but it also creates a more unique and interesting view of the scenery.
Use a Long Lens
Another way to help your subject stand out in a landscape photo is to use a long lens.
By shooting telephoto instead of wide-angle, your camera has much more reach so you can feature details that might otherwise get lost in the scene.
Like using negative space, this helps minimize the clutter in the photo.
But shooting with a long lens also helps compress the perceived distance from foreground to background, so background elements appear much closer and larger, as seen above.
Add a Person
The problem with shooting landscapes is that it can be difficult sometimes for viewers to get a good sense of the scale of the scene.
One way to help them out with that is to place a familiar-sized object in the shot, like people.
In the image above, for example, the man standing on the overhanging rock gives us a much better understanding of just how big the mountains (and the vertical drop) are in this shot.
Often, using people as “props” for your landscape photos will help you increase the wow factor to create a much more dramatic photo.
Find a Strong Subject
All photos need a strong subject, and landscapes are no exception.
The problem is that when you’re faced with a big, sweeping view of a gorgeous landscape, it might be hard to decide what feature to highlight as the subject of your photo.
Strong subjects don’t have to be big, like a mountain peak. Instead, they just need to be interesting and have a feature that grabs people’s attention.
That feature might be its shape, color, texture or pattern. In the case of the image above, the tree’s shape is eye-catching as is the pattern that its branches create.
Quick Tip: Don’t be afraid to utilize the negative space or the telephoto lens techniques mentioned earlier in order to make your subject stronger in the frame.
Use Filters to Manage Tough Lighting
When it comes to landscape photography gear, a good set of filters is a must-have.
That’s because armed with the right filters, you can control challenging lighting that often gives your camera fits.
That is, you’ll typically find that a landscape is dark relative to the sky. That creates challenges for many cameras that can’t handle the range of values from light to dark. That’s where a graduated neutral density filter comes in handy.
I had a chance to test out an H&Y soft-edge 0.9 graduated neutral density filter the other day, and I have to say that I’m really impressed.
At first I was skeptical because it has a magnetic frame. I was concerned that this system wouldn’t work well and that light leaks would be a problem. That was definitely not the case! In fact, I found this filter to be incredibly easy to use and highly effective, too. The soft-edge transition between the dense and clear areas of the filter is perfect for landscapes that don’t have a definite horizon.
Combine the H&Y Magnetic K-series Holder with the H&Y Magnetic Filter Frame, and you can stack mount multiple filters and slide your filter to the preferred position without concern of them detaching. Gapless edges prevent extraneous light from entering between filters and causing flare or light leak as well.
Square and rectangular filters can be very fragile and easily scratched, smeared by fingerprints or dropped and broken, so the innovative patented H&Y Magnetic Filter Frame designed for 100×150mm and 100×100mm filters brings additional security to handling of filters and reduce fingerprints around the border of the filters.
I appreciate the Gorilla glass construction of this filter as well. The tougher and more durable a filter is, and the more scratch resistance it has, the better!
The coolest part of the filter, though, is the magnetic mounting feature.
It made attaching and unattaching the filter from the H&Y filter holder a total breeze, which is handy when I need to quickly change filters to adjust to changing light.
Even better, you can stack multiple filters that have this same magnetic feature.
In other words, though I had my doubts about these filters and filter holder, once I got them and used them, I quickly realized that they are made to last, work great, and helped me get better results. They can do the same for you, too!
Change Your Perspective
The vast majority of landscape photos are taken from the photographer’s eye level. The problem with that is that it can make your photo look a little boring because it’s the same perspective from which everyone sees that landscape.
Instead, find a higher vantage point to shoot down towards the landscape (or use a drone, as shown above), or, conversely, kneel down or lay down on the ground and shoot up towards the landscape. Utilizing these bird’s eye and worm’s eye points of view are among the easiest tips for how to improve landscape photos.
Incorporate More Foreground
A benefit of dropping down for a low-angle shot as recommended in the previous point is that you can incorporate more foreground.
By doing so, you can give your landscape photos more depth and make them feel more like three-dimensional representations of the landscape.
Foreground elements can be anything from rocks and boulders to flowers or other plants. You can even use the textures created by wind in the sand or patterns created by the arrangement of rocks in a stream.
The point is that having interesting objects in the foreground will help draw viewers into the shot and drive their eyes deeper toward the background.
Use Leading Lines
Speaking of creating depth, using leading lines is an excellent way to give your landscape photos a feeling of being three-dimensional.
That’s because our eyes naturally like lines, so when you incorporate them into your landscape photos, people will immediately follow them with their eyes.
Leading lines connect the foreground to the background and take viewers on a journey through the landscape.
Quick Tip: Leading lines don’t have to be overt like a road or a fence. Instead, even faint lines created by an old hiking trail or something of the sort will serve well as a leading line.
Try Blue Hour
Golden hour gets all the glory in landscape photography tips and tutorials, but blue hour isn’t too shabby.
The cool tones associated with blue hour are far more calm and gentle than those you find earlier in the day. That can help you create gorgeously serene shots like the one shown above.
Blue hour occurs before sunrise and after sunset, and really only lasts about 20-30 minutes depending on the time of year and your location.
But even though it’s fleeting, shooting at blue hour can help you capture some impressive scenes!
Use a Frame
Earlier, I mentioned that adding foreground interest is a great way to create a photo with more depth.
Another tip for landscape photography is to use a frame within a frame.
By incorporating something in the foreground like the tree in the image above, you help drive the viewer’s eyes deeper into the shot.
What’s more, if used correctly, a frame can help make the primary subject stronger, too, much like the rock formation in the image above does for the people posed behind it.
Use a Tripod
Perhaps one of the simplest tips for how to improve landscape photos is to use a tripod. Not only does a tripod give your camera a more stable base for getting sharper photos, but it also helps you slow things down and concentrate more on things like composition, framing, and the perspective from which you shoot.
Some tripods even have inverted center columns that allow you to frame up shots close to the ground, which helps you incorporate foreground interest. And today’s tripods are so lightweight that you can easily take one with you on virtually any outing. Use this and the other landscape photography tips outlined above, and you’ll be on your way to taking much better landscape photos.