Simple Rules for Composing Perfect Landscapes

When you get ready to start taking scenic pictures of landscapes, it is easy to get distracted or overwhelmed. It could lead you to over thinking your digital photography to the point of not getting the right shot. However, if you follow a few basic rules, you will find that you get the right breathtaking image each time you go out on a landscapes trek. Here are some helpful and simple rules to follow when you want to take the right landscape photography.

The first thing that you need to remember is that it is all about patience. Keep in mind that it may take a while to find the perfect angle and framing for your next image. Do not get impatient if you don’t find the right angle from the get go. Keep in mind that the nature you are photographing is not going anywhere and it will not get antsy like people subjects may. You have all the time that you need in order to get the shot. If you feel yourself getting impatient, just take a deep breath and try another angle.

Landscape Photography Rules to Follow

To begin your journey, you need to know some basic rules of landscape and digital photography. Keeping these rules in mind will give you a much better opportunity at getting the perfect image each time. There are nine rules to remember and they will truly help you.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Morning Haze at Oconaluftee
Morning Haze at Oconaluftee Dave Allen

1. The first rule would be that you cannot get the perfect shot with just one snap of the shutter release. You need to be prepared to take numerous images and do not be surprised if it takes several shots to get the one that you truly want. Because nature is constantly changing, you may need to try various exposure adjustments, various angles, and various options of framing.

2. The second rule would be to keep it simple. There is so much going on in nature that it can be quite easy to get a busy or crowded image. You need to, instead, learn how to frame out all of the unneeded elements. Focus only on the elements most important to the picture and keep it simple. This is actually a good rule for all of digital photography and not just landscapes.

3. Know how to look for lines. There are lines all over the place in scenery and landscapes, like on the horizon or the lines of mountains and hills or even a fence line. Keep in mind that the lines you choose to follow should all lead the eye to the focal point of the image.

4. You need one central object. It can be easy to have too many points in an image and that can be confusing. Instead, you need to choose one natural subject and focus on it. This will draw the viewer’s eye for a better image.

5. It is important to understand the rule of thirds for any landscape picture. The rule of thirds is a simple way to break up an image into three areas, either vertical or horizontal. To create a more attractive image, you will want to use that rule of thirds to place the focal object. Put the object on one of those imaginary lines that breaks the image up so that the object will be slightly off center. This will create a more dramatic and pleasing image.

Tuscany Landscape
Tuscany Landscape Jens Fersterra

6. It is always a good idea to frame up the image well when choosing landscape photography. This simply means using natural elements to actually create a frame of sorts in the image.

7. On a similar note as framing, you will need to consider balance. In other words, an unbalanced image can look off or odd. If you have a large tree on the right side of the image and nothing on the left, this will create an unbalanced image. Try to find natural elements that will both frame the image and balance it well.

8. Be careful of colors. You will find that many objects in nature will actually be similar shades and colors. They may blend in together and this will create a flat or confusing image. Make sure that the elements in your picture are distinct and easy to separate for the viewer.

9. Look for interesting textures. The great thing about nature is that there are so many different textures out there. You can easily create visually striking images by making use of various textures to separate elements of the image that you are framing.

By following these rules, you will find it much easier to simplify the image that you want to take and create the perfect composition. Now, you must be thinking “where do I go to take this type of digital photography?” It is true that there are so many choices. What makes the best landscape photography? You may find that over time, you will start looking for your own opportunities, but here are some basic ideas to get you started.

Choosing the Right Location for Landscape Photography

As mentioned above, there are plenty of different great places to take digital photography of landscapes. In fact, there are so many choices that you could get overwhelmed. As a beginner, you may want to start with some obvious choices and then you can always look for your own ideas later. Here are some very good places to start for your landscape digital photography.

– Mountains and Foothills
– Oceans, Beaches, Waterways
– The Right Time of Day: Sunsets, Dusk, Sunrises and Dawn
– The Right Time of the Year: the Changing of the Seasons

misty layers in a sea of gold
Misty layers in a sea of gold Rohit Chawla

Landscapes make the type of images that have been well beloved for many years. You can create amazing landscape digital photography as well. All you need to know is how to create a beautifully framed image with some simple rules of landscape photography. Then, all you need to do is consider the right place to take the images. With this information, you can get out in the world and start your digital photography journey.

Top feature image by Jens Fersterra

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What Our Readers have to say

  1. Danie du Plessis says:

    Thanks its good to know.

  2. Dave Allen says:

    Nice, thanks for posting one of my images y’all!

  3. Rorie says:

    Interesting how all three example images break your rules. Secondly your rules shall make little sense to most beginners due to the wordy nature and poor explanations within the rules themselves. You have managed to mix basic rules of composition with the elements of design.

  4. AnnyLaurie says:

    I am a a real newbie – I found these simple rules quite helpful. I believe that photography is an amazing art form and is very subjective just like any other media. The rules are just there for guidance and in the right hands can be broken quite effectively. As a beginner a little structure is very helpful until you can find your own style. Thank you for sharing all the info.

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