Tips for Better Landscape Photographs

A vineyard near Montalcino, Italy.
Julian Elliott Photography/Getty Images

Photographing a landscape is not as easy as it seems and the professionals do make it look easy!

Finding a great landscape then seeing a picture that is less than spectacular can be very disappointing. By following and practicing these landscape photography tips, you can start to produce stunning professional-looking shots.

Follow "The Rule of Thirds"

The Rule of Thirds states that an ideal landscape photograph should be divided into thirds, meaning you should aim to have a third of sky, a third of horizon, and a third of foreground. An image like this will be pleasing to the human eye, which automatically looks for lines within structures.

Draw an imaginary grid over the scene with two vertical lines and two horizontal lines. Where these lines intersect is the perfect location for a point of interest like a tree, flower, or mountaintop.

Don't place the horizon line in the exact middle of the image. This is the first sign of an amateur photographer and you want to look like a pro!

Learn when to break "The Rule of Thirds!"

Once you have mastered that rule, you can think about breaking it.

For instance, while shooting a sunrise or sunset, it would make sense to include more of the sky. You may want to reduce the amount of horizon and foreground in the photo, so as to focus on the colors of the sky.

Don't Forget About Perspective

Remember to include details of interest in the foreground of an image. This could be a flower, fence post, rock, or anything that is closer to you.

Details in the scenery in the distance may look beautiful to the eye, but they likely will look flat and uninteresting on a photo. Focus on the details in the foreground to add perspective and scale to the scenery that surrounds it.

Change the Angle of View

Don't just shoot standing straight to your scene. Everyone knows what a human sees because we are all about the same height. Give the viewer a more interesting perspective by using an angle they are not used to.

Try kneeling down or standing on something. This will immediately give your photographs a different perspective and more interesting look.

Watch the Depth of Field

A good landscape shot has a large depth of field (such as f/22 aperture) so that everything, even in the distance, is sharp. This again helps to draw the viewer into an image and helps to give a sense of scale and depth to the image.

This larger depth of field is going to slow down your shutter speed so always have a tripod with you. A great landscape photographer will always lug around their trusted tripod!

Get Up Early or Go Out Late

The light at sunrise and sunset is warm and dramatic, and the color temperature is lower in this type of sunlight. This yields beautifully lit images with lovely soft tones. Photographers call the hour before sunrise and sunset "The Golden Hour."

The worst time to photograph a landscape is in the middle of the day. The light is flat and often too glaring, there are no deep shadows and the colors are blown out. If you come across a scene at the wrong time of day, go back when the light is right. You will never regret this detour.

Use Filters

Carrying a variety of filters can help you achieve a variety of looks in your landscape photos.

Try using a circular polarizer to enhance blue skies or remove reflections from water. Or, use a graduated neutral density filter to balance the difference in exposures between the land and sky.

Use a Low ISO

Landscapes look best if there is no noise in the image. Always use an ISO of 100 or 200 if you can get away with it.

If the lower ISO requires a longer exposure, use a tripod rather than increasing the ISO.