Travel Photography : 6 Easy Steps to become a better Landscape Photographer

Taking great landscape photographs isn’t simply a matter of finding some nice scenery and pointing a camera at it. Effective landscape photography takes discipline and effort, as well as a good grasp of basic photography techniques. The following 6 step approach will lead you take pictures you will be proud to display on the wall.

rice terraces in ifugao
2000-year old Batad Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province – A UNESCO World Heritage Site

1)    Find a view and a Vantage Point. The first step in taking a great landscape photograph is of course to find a view worthy of a picture. After finding a great view, find a nice vantage point for you to capture a unique angle of the photograph. But to be honest this is just the start of the process. A common mistake is to point and shoot, expecting that a great picture will result. If you take that approach, you will simply end up with an unremarkable snap of a great view.

Spectacular rock formations in Biri Island by Lauren Gaile of Epic Potato

2)    Use some foreground interest. A great picture needs something to lock it together, and that comes in the form of foreground interest. Examples include rocks, flowers, puddles or other features with texture and detail. Including these in the picture may mean getting down low and changing your viewpoint. Having foreground interest in a shot gives a sense of scale which completely changes the end picture.

angkor wat
Shooting the sunrise shooters at Angkor Wat by Mark Ramone Go of

3)    Set the camera on a tripod. This is one of the things which separates the professionals from the amateurs. Even in good light, using tripod can still produce a sharper image than hand holding a camera. Use a cable release or remote device if you have one. Alternatively, use the camera’s self-timer to trigger the shutter.

Crater of Mt Pinatubo
Crater of Mt Pinatubo by Renz Bulseco of The Traveling Nomad

4)    Compose the shot. Once you have a great background and some foreground interest you need to balance these elements. The classic approach is to divide the frame into a three by three grid. Points of interest should positioned at the intersection points in the grid. The horizon should be either a third from the bottom or a third from the top of the picture. If the horizon cuts the picture in half it will usually look wrong.

paseo del mar
Paseo del Mar ovelooking the view of the pier in Zamboanga by Elal Lasoa of The Shades of Grey

Consider whether the sky or the land are more appealing when deciding where to position the horizon, Check the edges of the picture for distracting elements before deciding on the final composition. There’s nothing worse than noticing later that something’s crept into the picture and spoilt an otherwise perfect shot.

nagsasa beach
Large boulders on one side of the beach in Nagsasa by Ian dela Pena of

5)    Choose your point of focus. All landscape photographs need to be sharp somewhere in the frame, but at which point is the photographer’s choice. Focussing on foreground interest can be very effective. For example, you might have a flower in the foreground and choose to focus on this.

A peculiar landscape called Moonland in Lamayuru India by Bino Caiña
A peculiar landscape called Moonland in Lamayuru India by Bino Caiña of Frameless World

The lens you are using and the camera settings you choose will determine how much of the scene is in focus. A soft background can look very appealing in a landscape picture and give it scale, but if the foreground isn’t sharp it may look poor.

On the way to Baler
On the way to Baler – Photo was taken while on a bus going to Baler. Although the ride was bumpy, the morning dew drops, the fog and the reflection made a breathtaking background to the Sierra Mountain ranges. Photo by : Brena Bustamante of The Philippine Travelogue

6)    Choose your aperture setting. Once you’ve chosen your point of focus, the final step is to decide how much of the scene you want to appear in focus relative to this. The aperture setting is the key control to influence this. Cheaper lenses do not produce their best results with wide apertures, so work within their limitations. Zoom lenses can also suffer from loss of image quality at wider apertures.

Mount Batulao
Mount Batulao by Roman Leo Reyman of

Once you’ve followed these steps you should be ready to capture the image. It’s advisable to take some variations at different exposures to ensure the photograph is perfect according to your desired output. Although you can make adjustments later in image editing software, it’s good if you get it right in the camera at the point you take the shot.

I understand that not everyone are born to be a good photographer but taking these easy steps will somehow help you to be on the right track, who knows you are on your way of producing some stunning images on your next out of town trip.

  1. Adaphobic's Travelogue says

    Great tips and photos! It’s too late when I saw your posts looking for landscape photos 😀

    1. melo says

      @Ada – next time join ka na:) thanks

  2. Micamyx|Senyorita says

    Nice compilation! 😀

    1. melo says

      thanks @Mica

  3. Shalu Sharma says

    Stunning imagery. The photo of the rice terraces of Ifugao looks amazing.

    1. Melo Villareal says

      Thanks Shalu- you should visit Ifugao soon:)

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