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10 Exciting Creative Landscape Photography Tips

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Related course: Simply Stunning Landscapes

The camera is your paintbrush. It is your voice, your pen. Use it to express yourself and your work will become unlike any other.
If you are feeling too comfortable with your craft, it’s time to shake things up. Experiment with new methods for creative landscape photography!

This will keep your artistic processes fresh. You will be able to create your own reality with the camera.

A stunning landscape at sunset with mountains and a hill, taken from the ExpertPhotography landscape photography course

[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]

10 Tips for Creative Landscape Photography

10. Slow Down the Shutter with Black Glass

You can shoot very long exposure shots on a bright sunny day using one simple trick. Add a round, neutral density filter to your bag. Often dubbed “black glass”, you can screw these dark filters onto the front of your lens. They prevent a great deal of light from entering, with strengths from 3 to 10 stops. This opens up a whole new world of creative possibility.
For example, if the proper exposure gave you 1/125, f22, ISO 100, much of the water’s motion would be frozen. Adding a nine stop ND filter keeps the aperture and ISO the same. At the same time, you drop the shutter speed all the way down to four seconds. This will create that dreamy effect.
Long exposure photo of a waterfall with motion blur

9. Set the Shutter to Bulb Mode

You’re likely to have scrolled right past the BULB mode before. It’s tempting to avoid it, but the question still lingers: “what does it do?”
This amazing feature makes it possible to use shutter speeds of several minutes. With it, you can achieve magical results. Use a cable release and a tripod to avoid jostling the camera. Make sure you have a charged battery.
Long exposure aerial view of streaming light trails on a motorway

8. Work with Colour Wisely

Colour can drastically change the way we interpret a scene.
Most people don’t notice as the light temperature shifts throughout the day. Yet, the observant landscape photographer can manipulate these subtle differences. If you learn how to do this, you will be able to achieve interesting results.
It’s not always necessary to fill the entire frame with colour. Sometimes, all it takes is a tiny dab. This is a powerful technique for bringing attention to one part of the frame.

A serene landscape of green fields with mountains in the background

7. Shoot Through a Flower Petal

Go beyond the routine snapshot by adding a layer of visual interest to your landscape shots.

By shooting through a flower petal or leaf, you can create a soft wash of colour. And you can still keep the main subject in sharp focus. The technique is simple but yields a refined look.
For this particular method, you may prefer to shoot without a tripod. By working handheld, it’s easier to position the camera right into the flowers or branches.

Photo of a snowy mountain shot through the branches of a tree

6. Remove Clutter with a Telephoto Lens

It’s rare to come across a landscape that doesn’t need decluttering. Common contestants include power wires, fences, signs, and dirt patches. You can try to compose your photo by moving your feet at first. But what about those situations when you can’t move any further?
Where a wide-angle lens falls short, a telephoto lens in the 70-300mm range will be very useful. You can pick the area where the essential elements come together and remove any distractions.
This is one of the most essential creative landscape photography tips.

Photo of trees in a forest shot with wide angle lens

5. Don’t Fear High ISOs

It may surprise you to learn that a high ISO can be helpful for creative landscape photography. This is particularly true when shooting without a tripod or including a person in the frame. In these instances, the shutter speed can be no slower than about 1/125 to prevent camera shake.
To achieve great depth of field and keep everything in your photo sharp, the best aperture would be f11 or f16.
With these two decisions made, you may take your photo only to find that it’s too dark. This is where the ISO comes into play. Simply double the ISO number and watch as the photo becomes brighter.

Photo of a high mountain peak with clouds around it

4. Enable Highlight Alert

By default, many camera models have highlight alert turned off. You’ll need to enable it in the menu.
This feature is also referred to as “the blinkies”. It alerts you to the precise location of overexposure. With this knowledge, you can make a quick adjustment to the exposure. You can even alter your composition to remove the unwanted area.
By following this advice, you’ll end up with more consistent exposures and no washed out areas. You’ll also be rewarded with less time in the digital darkroom. You can avoid trying to fix problems that you could have prevented in the field.
A snow covered bridge over a river in the foreground of a cityscape

3. Try the Two-Second Timer

This rarely used setting can open up a whole new world of creative possibility for you. It’s typically found in the “drive” menu along with single shot, multi-shot, etc.
If you find yourself somewhere that doesn’t allow tripods, you can still take sharp photos. Even with long exposure times. Select the two-second timer and rest the camera on the ground. You can use the folded camera strap to angle the camera upwards if necessary.
When you press the shutter, the camera will move a bit. Don’t worry, you have two seconds for it to settle down before firing. This is also helpful for tripods that are not as stable as they should be. If you don’t have a cable release, the timer is a terrific wireless alternative.

Photo of a bright landscape with trees and a cliff

2. Go Easy on the Polarizer

One of the most important tools for afternoon photography is the circular polarizer.
Some may disagree here, but it does not need to be a super high-end filter. A basic model from Hoya or Tiffen will be as effective.
With this, you can take a pale blue sky and make it pop. It is especially true when there are clouds in the sky. Be warned that the technique is so powerful that it’s easy to go overboard.
As a tip, I’d recommend finding the greatest strength of the filter, then cut the intensity. This will provide you with more natural results.
Magnificent shot of a rainbow over a waterfall

1. Composition Is a Process of Subtraction

Painters work by applying brush strokes until their piece is complete. This additive process is actually quite different from how photographers compose images.
Through the lens, we need to remove any unnecessary elements to best express our vision. A method of subtraction that may seem counterintuitive at first.
As Paulo Coelho said: “Elegance is achieved when all that is superfluous has been discarded and the human being discovers simplicity and concentration. The simpler and more sober the posture, the more beautiful it will be.”

Mountainous landscape shot from a tunnel

For more inspiration, check out the work of some creative landscape photographers, or our tips on fine art landscape photography next!

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