How to Shoot Landscape Photos- The Complete Guide

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Landscape photography is one of the interesting and rewarding genres of photography, so it’s no surprise that it’s hugely popular. It is a subset of photography that focuses on capturing the beauty of the natural landscapes found outdoors.

Landscape photography aims to take the viewer into the world being photographed and retrieve the feeling of beauty that they might feel if they were standing in the same place as the photographer.

In this article we will discuss many aspects and types of landscape photography, In addition, we will provide a complete guide to help you enhance your skills, and hopefully be able to shoot unforgettable photos.

What is landscape photography?

Landscape photography shows the spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographs typically capture the presence of nature but can also focus on man-made features or disturbances of landscapes. Landscape photography is done for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most common is to recall a personal observation or experience while outdoors, especially when travelling. Others pursue it particularly as an outdoor lifestyle, to be involved with nature and the elements, some as an escape from the artificial world.” via  Wikipedia

Types of landscape photography

  1. Natural photography

Nature photography covers shooting plants, flowers, deserts, mountain ranges, or even volcanos photographed in their immediate environments. The subgroup of nature photography includes:

  • Seascape Photography.
  • Mountain Photography.
  • Forest Photography.
  • Cloudscape Photography.
  • Flower photography
  • Waterfalls photography

photo of mountains at sunrise

Photo by Depositphotos

  1. Urban Photography

Urban Photography documents human-made interventions, structures, and environments, such as towns and other ecological spaces. Urban landscape photography can roughly be divided into three sub-categories.

  • Cityscape: This type of photo aims to show a large part of the city. It needs to give a sense of scale to the place.
  • Architecture: Stunning architecture is a staple of urban photography. Look for new buildings, statues or bridges for this.
  • Urbex: This entails photographing abandoned buildings, or accessing underground tunnel systems. Urbex stands for urban exploration.


Photo by Depositphotos

  1. Astrophotography

Astrophotography, also known as astronomical imaging, is the photography or imaging of astronomical objects, celestial events, or areas of the night sky. The following are some typical subjects you can photograph in the night sky.

  • Star trails
  • The Milky Way
  • The Moon

Mikyland and mountains in the forground

Photo by Depositphotos

Styles of landscape photography

There are three major styles of landscape photography

  • Representational

This style is the most natural and realistic out of all the styles of landscape photography. The approach is capturing the scene as it is, with your choices of framing, and composing the photo.

Acouple of buildings at the coast of a sea

Photo by Depositphotos

  • Impressionistic:

The goal is not capturing the landscape as is, you’re trying to transform a feeling, an impression of the scene into a photograph. Intentionally out of focus, almost painting-like look. The viewer is given the impression of a landscape rather than the true representation of one.

Branches of plants against a blurred sky

Photo by Depositphotos

  • Abstract:

Abstract landscape photographs use components of the scenery as a main subject. The photographer may place emphasis and focus in an area within the landscape itself, and on something which seems counterintuitive.

Abstract photo of trees

Photo by Depositphotos

Landscape Photography Techniques

There are many photography techniques you can use in landscape photography. Using any one of them will lead to a different style. The following are some of the most popular landscape photography techniques:

  • Long Exposure

Using the Long exposure technique can make the look of falling water appears silky, and can flatten the sea. You can also make light trails of moving lights like stars trails or moving car light trails.

Light trails of cars at night

Photo by Depositphotos

  • Panorama

One of the most popular landscape compositions is the panoramic shot. It is used to capture images with horizontally elongated fields of view. It is sometimes known as wide-format photography.

panorama photo of buildings

Photo by Depositphotos

  • Crystal Ball Photography

A popular form of photography in recent years involves the use of a Crystal Ball. This is a glass ball that works as an external lens optic, this can be handheld or put on the ground. The shots taken using a crystal ball look very similar to those taken by the fisheye lens

Crystal ball photo showing landscape background

Photo by Depositphotos

  • Double Exposure

Double Exposure photography is a technique that involves combining two exposures to create a single image. The goal of this technique is to produce art, creative, and astonishing photos in a unique way that can’t be achieved with a single shot.

A composite photo of a woman and tree branches

Photo by Depositphotos

  • Silhouettes

Silhouettes can form interesting landscape photos. A great landscape composition is layering silhouetted mountains against one another. Another great option is to silhouette a person or object in a sunset sky.

layered mountains

Photo by Depositphotos

How to Shoot Landscape Photos

  1. Use a Good Camera

A DSLR or mirrorless camera is the ideal camera type you can use for shooting landscapes.

While today’s most advanced smartphone cameras are able to produce pretty nice landscape shots, they do not catch up with the quality of professional cameras. A DSLR or mirrorless camera has a larger and more improved sensor size that produces higher-quality images. In addition, they have more settings that allow you to fully customize the exposure of your photos. Finally, to catch the widest possible views with your lenses, go for a full-frame camera with a 35mm sensor.

  1. Select your lens

In order to take amazing landscape photos, you need to use the right equipment. The most important pieces of equipment that you should look at are the lenses to help you realise your creative vision. There are four main types of lenses that are used commonly in landscape photography, obviously, the choice depends on the type of landscape you are going to shoot.

A lens is characterized by two main factors, its focal length and aperture.

With respect to the focal length the following lens type can be used in landscape photography:

  • Wide-angle lenses

     Wide-angle lenses are the most popular lenses for landscape photography. Their focal lengths usually is less than 38mm. they allow you to capture a large range of views and a long depth of field, which is basically what most photographers want when they set out to photograph landscapes.

  • Standard zoom lenses

    Standard zoom lenses usually range from 24-70mm. it provides a similar field of view to the human eye (around the 35-50mm range). So, you can create images that are more realistic and catches the eyes of your viewer.

  • Telephoto lenses

    Telephoto lenses usually fall within the 70-200mm range. They’re great for situations when you want to demonstrate a sense of scale, as they allow you to compress the scene. They are also useful when you are unable to get closer to your subject.

  • Prime lenses

    Prime lenses are those with a fixed focal length – that is, they don’t have any ability to zoom. They are most often used for certain applications, such as photographing landscapes at night or when shooting stars.

With respect to the lens aperture, you need to look for a lens with a fixed aperture. Although fixed aperture zoom lenses may be expensive, they are more versatile in terms of applications.

While there is no best aperture for landscape photography, the aperture of your lens should be f/4 or greater. A lens with a fast aperture is particularly useful in low light conditions, such as when shooting sunrise and sunset. You’ll also need a lens with a fast aperture to capture the stars, moon, and Milky Way at night.

  1. Plan for the proper shooting time

Photography is all about the quality of available natural light. A good photo needs soft and diffused natural light. Your captured photos will be dramatically different when they are taken at different times of the day. There are two known times in the day that offer the most amazing light quality: Golden Hour and Blue hour.

The golden hour is also known as the magical hour, when the Sun is close to the horizon on a sunny day, its light appears warmer and softer which is very suitable for amazing landscape shots.

On the other hand, the blue hour refers to the darker stages of morning and evening twilight, when the Sun is quite far below the horizon, colouring the sky deep blue, it is also a favourite time among landscape photographers.

  1. Set your camera properly

The following are the main camera settings in landscape photography:

  • Manual camera mode:

    You may use the manual camera mode to get full control and to allow you to set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

  • Aperture around f/8 or greater:

    The high aperture keeps the entire landscape in focus without blurring details, while the white balance lets the camera capture the entire colour spectrum. Remember, a balanced setting is important when shooting colourful landscapes like sunrises and sunsets.

  • Shutter speed:

    It is equally important when you’re shooting moving landscapes like running water or if you’re shooting without using a tripod use a high shutter speed (for example 1/100 or more) to avoid camera shake and hence blurred photos.

When using a tripod, for a truly unique shot, use a long shutter speed to capture movement in waterfalls, waves, or even star trails.

  • Low ISO:

    It is recommended to use a low ISO level to avoid noise in your photos, however, if you need more light to balance your exposure increase ISO carefully

  • White balance:

    Use whatever gives you a good preview (often just Auto), or set it to “daylight,” “shade,” or “cloudy”

  • Autofocus:

    Using the autofocus option could be acceptable in good conditions, however, if autofocus is not giving you a sharp result, set your camera lens to manual focus. And focus manually at 100% magnification in live view, with a tripod. For further reading, you may check my article “Where To Focus In Landscape Photography

  • Make Histogram Visible:

    Once you’ve set the aperture and ISO values, you may use the histogram to check whether your image is properly exposed or not. If the histogram is displaced to the extreme left, it means the image will be too dark (underexposed). Conversely, an overexposed image will have the histogram shifted way to the right. Try to keep the histogram centred.

  1. Use a tripod & remote shutter release

To avoid the camera shake you need to use a tripod and remote shutter release, especially when you are shooting long shutter speed photography, and astrophotography.

Using a tripod will stabilise your camera, and using a remote allows you to maximize image sharpness by making sure no camera shake is introduced by physically touching the shutter button.

  1. Use polarizing and neutral density filters

Using filters can improve the quality of your photos to a higher level. The following two filters are used in landscape photography:

The polarized filter blocks random light waves from passing through your lens, creating a clearer image. It is typically used in front of a camera lens in order to reduce reflections, reduce atmospheric haze and increase colour saturation in images.

The ND filter allows you to use a longer shutter speed than otherwise possible to soften the appearance of turbulent water and blur the moving water in a waterfall. It is essential in long shutter speed photography.

  1. Consider the composition

One of the most important tip you can get is to pay attention to your image composition. The same basic image can change drastically when photographed from slightly different vantage points.

There are a few compositional rules that you can follow to ensure that you get an image that will catch the interest of your viewers. Some of the most common rules include the Rule of Thirds, the use of leading lines, and incorporating balance in your images.

You can be more creative in composing your landscape photos by using the negative space technique in some situations.

  1. Shoot in RAW format to allow for efficient editing

Shoot in RAW image format, rather than JPEG format, to preserve all image information and help you capture higher-quality images. Otherwise, shooting in JPEG image format will compress the files, resulting in fewer image data.

By selecting RAW as one of your go-to camera settings, you’ll be able to edit your photos using post-processing software to apply some colour enhancements, correct white balance, and other necessary digital adjustments until you get your desired results.


Related posts

Different Types Of Landscape Photography

Where To Focus In Landscape Photography

The Landscape Photography Art

Best Time To Take Landscape Photos- Golden And Blue Hour


Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article, in case you have any questions just drop them below & I will be happy to answer you.

The featured Photo by Depositphotos

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