Is landscape photography an art? Yes, it is. The camera is your paintbrush. It is your voice, your pen. Use it to express yourself and your work will become unlike any other.
Are you feeling too comfortable with your craft? You might be wondering ‘how do I take unique landscape photos?’. Keep reading to figure out how to shake things up for creative landscape photography.
This will keep your artistic processes fresh and exciting.
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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”, these dark filters are screwed 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.
Let’s say the proper exposure gave you 1/125, f22, ISO 100. With this, the water’s motion would largely be frozen. By adding a nine stop ND filter, you can keep 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 previously limited to low light situations.
9. Set the Shutter to Bulb Mode
You’re likely to have scrolled right past the BULB mode before. It’s tempting to just avoid it altogether. But the question still lingers: what does it do?
This amazing feature makes it possible to use shutter speeds of several minutes in duration. With it, you can achieve otherworldly results, including capturing light trails. Simply use a cable release and a tripod. This will help you avoid jostling the camera.
Make sure you have a fully charged battery.
8. Work with Color Wisely
Color can drastically change the way we interpret a scene.
Most people don’t notice as the light temperature gradually 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 necessary to fill the entire frame with color to use it effectively. Sometimes, all it takes is a tiny dab. This is a powerful technique for bringing attention to one part of the frame.
7. Shoot Through a Flower Petal
Go beyond the routine snapshot. Add a layer of visual interest to your landscape shots by using the tools already at your disposal.
For this particular method, you may prefer to shoot without a tripod. By working handheld, it’s easier to position the camera directly into the flowers.
6. Eliminate Clutter with a Telephoto Lens
It’s rare to come across a landscape that doesn’t require decluttering. Common contestants include power wires, fences, signs, and unsightly 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?
This is one of the most essential creative landscape photography tips.
5. Don’t Fear High ISOs
As surprising as it may be, a high ISO can be helpful for creative landscape photography. This is particularly true when shooting without a tripod. Or when you want to include 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 sharp, your desired aperture would be f11 or f16.
Sometimes 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.
4. Enable Highlight Alert
By default, many camera models have highlight alert turned off. You’ll need to enable it in the menu.
It’s commonly referred to as “the blinkies”. This feature 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 eliminate the unwanted area.
By following this advice, you’ll end up with more consistent exposures. Washed-out areas will also be a thing of the past. And you’ll be rewarded with less time in the digital darkroom. You will be able to avoid fixing problems that could have been prevented in the field.
3. Try the Two-Second Timer
This rarely used setting can open up a whole new world of creative possibilities for you. It’s typically found in the ‘drive’ menu – along with single shot, multi-shot, etc.
You may find yourself somewhere that doesn’t allow tripods. Don’t worry, it’s still possible to 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.
When you press the shutter, the camera will move a little. 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.
2. Go Easy on the Polarizer
Perhaps the most important tool for afternoon photography is the circular polarizer.
With this, you can take a pale blue sky and make it pop. It is especially true when the sky is dappled with clouds. However, the technique is so powerful, that it’s easy to go overboard.
As a tip, I’d recommend finding the maximum strength of the filter. Then cut the intensity slightly. This will provide you with more natural results.
1. Composition Is a Process of Subtraction
Painters work by continually applying brush strokes until their piece is complete. This process is quite different from how photographers compose images.
Through the lens, we have to remove any unnecessary elements in order to best express our vision. Therefore, photographers operate with a method of subtraction. At first, this may seem a bit counterintuitive. But learning how to be selective of your composition is an important part of improving your skills.
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.”
If you are bored with your pictures, try these tips to add some character to your landscape photography. Experimenting with different settings, camera accessories, and composition techniques is the best way to get out of a photography rut.
If you want to get even better at creative landscape photography, find inspiration from others. But which landscape photographers are worth learning from? Here is a list of creative landscape photographers you should take inspiration from in 2020.
For more inspiration, check out or our tips on fine art landscape photography next!