Landscape Photography Techniques for Stunning Pictures

How to ensure great results from every shoot!

By David Fleet

Image copyright: David Fleet

Let's take a look at some landscape photography techniques that will give you some sure fire ways to do justice to beautiful scenery.

So many people have been bitten by the landscape photography bug! Me included. In fact, as a professional landscape photographer it's my full time occupation.

It's so great to be out in the natural world, and to be able to be creative by capturing the surroundings in great photographs that you can show your friends and family.

But, unfortunately, photography isn't as simple as it seems! When we snap away without applying much thought, our pictures never do justice to the beautiful scenery, and it can be really disappointing.

So, when I'm shooting, I always bear in mind some brilliant little methods to help me get great results. Employing a few landscape photography techniques will help you to banish flat, boring pictures and create ones that will wow everyone you show them to!


1. Seeing Your Subject

This is perhaps the most simple but also the most important of the landscape photography techniques in this article!

Pay attention to your subject. When you find yourself in a beautiful place, the temptation is always to start snapping away and assume that beauty will re-appear in your photos. Nope!

Have a really good look around and try to think what it is that makes this worth photographing. Is it the light, the lie of the land or some interesting prominent feature? This allows you have a clear focus for the picture, and to think about exactly how you want to shoot it.


2. Create Depth: Foreground/Middle/Background.

Now, here's a really simple tip that will help us to create depth in our images. Giving a photo 'depth' helps to draw in the viewer's eye and lead them through the various parts of the image.

So how's it done? Try to include an interesting foreground, middle and background in your shots. This is one of the most useful landscape photography techniques to stick to.

If you take the time to find something interesting for each of the 3 main parts of a photo, you're on to a winner! But don't be lazy about what's 'interesting'! Have a really good search for things that will work.

Foreground: There are lots of things that can work as foreground; interesting rocks, beautiful flowers etc. Compose your shot with these at the bottom of the frame.

Image copyright: David Fleet

A strong foreground really makes this image.

Middle: In all likelihood, your middle will be the main subject of your photo, and the reason why you are taking the picture. The middle is positioned centrally in the viewfinder, with the foreground flowing into it.

Background: The background should complement the rest of the picture. It's no less important than the other two sections. In fact, since the background in landscape photography is often the sky, which determines the quality of light and the mood of a shot, it's incredibly important!

If you follow the principle of having a good foreground, middle and background as a general rule, your landscape shots will immediately look and feel much more interesting. I use it a lot in my work, and it has helped me create some of my best selling images.


3. Create 'Balanced' Pictures

This is another one of the best landscape photography techniques to be aware of. It links in naturally the previous one. But what do I actually mean by balance?

Well, the human eye (or brain really) likes balance, and will work to create it wherever possible. We have an instinctive sense of balance. It's when things just seem to look right.

When a photograph (or a painting, sentence, room or building for that matter) lacks balance, it makes us feel uncomfortable, awkward. That's not what you want to make people feel when they look at your photos.

So to create balance we need place the parts of an image carefully within the frame. For instance, if your foreground dominates the lower left part of the frame, the background would need to occupy the upper right to prevent it from seeming empty and lopsided.

Creating balance is not an exact science. It just takes time and experimentation to get better at finding it. The more you practice, the more naturally you will be able to find it.


Image copyright: David Fleet

This image uses the foreground, middle and background rule, and has a feeling of 'balance'. It also uses another technique: 'S - curves', which I'll discuss in a separate article.

3. Positioning Your Main Subject

Now for one of the most well known landscape photography techniques. It's worth mentioning because I find it comes in handy all the time as a rough guide.

Position your main subject using the imaginary 'rule of thirds' grid. Basically, this means dividing your image into thirds, horizontally and vertically, leaving 9 equal sections. (More on the rule of thirds and the golden mean)

The four places where these lines intersect are all great spots for positioning your main subject.

Why? Because when we look at a picture we like to move through it, starting somewhere and then moving on to the surrounding areas. When the main focus of a picture is off-centre like this, it gives a great starting point to move on from. Positioning the main subject too centrally can make an image seem a bit lifeless and dull.



There is, of course, much more to creating great landscape photos than just these 3 tips! But if you give them a go next time you're out with your camera, you could well see an instant improvement in your shots. They provide a great framework for producing photos that you can be proud of, and will allow you to go on developing your own unique creative approach.

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