Landscape photography ideas.
As a practicing or aspiring landscape photographer, you’re probably inspired by the urban landscape or natural world, but maybe looking for new and creative ways to capture them. Look no further. We’ve compiled a list of ideas to try out when shooting your landscape photography. Be sure to read through the whole article too, these ideas can apply to various types of landscape photography.
Unique landscape photography ideas by location.
We’ve researched five ideas to try out in various locations, from the mountains to your backyard, the natural to the urban environments (landscape photography can go far beyond the natural world!), and even looked at styles of photography such as shooting panoramic or creating constructed landscapes.
1. Urban landscape photography ideas.
- Take your photos at different times of day: Light and street activity will vary throughout the day, so for our first urban landscape photography idea, we suggest going back to your shooting location multiple times throughout the day. Not only will the light be different (maybe blue hour will complement your shot better than golden hour), the street life may shift through different times of day.
- Research your location: Unless you know your urban landscape like the back of your hand, it might serve to research your location first to form some shots in your head. Fan of a good shortcut? Search the internet for your location, preferably an image-friendly place. Try recreating shots done by others or think about how you’d take them differently.
- Consider adding foreground: Your shot might benefit by adding visual interest with foreground subject matter. Consider foreground elements that could add to your photo, maybe taking your urban landscape photograph through a car window or chain link fence. You’ll come up with more and more foreground elements once this idea is planted.
- Simplify your photo: Arguably, composing an urban landscape photograph can be more challenging than a scene in nature. Be extra conscious of framing your urban landscape, taking into consideration what elements can be removed to simplify your photo, ensuring your composition and key elements aren’t compromised by an overly busy photo. A good tip for any landscape photographer.
- Capture movement: An urban environment can be pretty lively, and capturing movement can be a great strategy for bringing the viewer into the energy of a scene. You could get a long exposure, capture car lights on a busy road at night, a flock of birds moving through an urban jungle, or children frolicking in a lively fountain in a town square.
2. Mountain landscape photography ideas.
- Take your photos at different times of year: Sun in the summer appears higher in the sky. In the winter, the sun moves lower. This can create different lighting opportunities for photographers, especially landscape ones, who often rely on light from the sun. Try taking your mountain landscape photography photos in the summer and fall and see what happens to the mood, you may notice it softens in the fall.
- Lean into the weather: As a landscape photographer, you know how different a photo can look with different weather. With how majestic mountains can feel already, weather can have a dramatic effect on your mountain landscape photography. Don’t turn the car around on a snowy, rainy, or foggy day (unless things are getting dangerous!). These photos could be your best ones.
- Change up your perspective: You don’t necessarily need to do a bunch of climbing, sometimes the best mountain landscape photography is taken from the base. Maybe with wildflowers or a creek in the foreground, or hikers in the background, so the mountains are shown more to scale.
- Use a filter: A neutral density filter neutralizes the light entering your camera, which can allow you to shoot great photos even in harshly lit conditions. Depending on the filter, this can also result in effects such as a shallower depth of field or blurred moving elements, which can have interesting effects on your mountain landscape photography.
- Change up lenses: If you’re taking mountain landscape photography, you might want to experiment with lenses. Rather than packing your go-to lens, switch things up. A wide-angle lens does dominate in landscape photography, and it will give you a wide expanse, but a long lens will allow you to capture special details you wouldn’t be able to with other lenses.
3. Landscape photography ideas that you can take at home.
- Don’t forget about the local wildlife: Sometimes we forget how much goes on in our own backyard. Whether there’s activity in your immediate surroundings, or you journey to a local park, natural area, even college campus or industrial park, you may catch a glimpse of creatures that make interesting subjects for your landscape photography. Don’t discount them!
- Capture local flora: Think about the predominant or unique plant life that characterizes your local area. Find equally unique ways to capture this plant life. For instance, it may have distinctive colors and shapes that you want to convey, or there are interesting ways your urban environment converges around them.
- Observe seasonal change: When thinking of home-based landscape photography, try to pay closer attention to the seasonal change that happens around you, such as foliage changes, ice forming and melting, and light changes as the sun moves position across the sky. This kind of observation may open your eyes to things you haven’t seen before, which means great photo opportunities.
- Find awe in the sky: Night, day, sunrise, and sunset, you likely have access to the sky, whether right at home or finding a vantage point somewhere close to you. The sky can make for a beautiful subject in landscape photography, whether capturing the horizon, a silhouette against the sky at dusk, or unique, dramatic clouds.
- Feature the everyday: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder right? If you find it intriguing, chances are someone else will too. Think outside the box, some of the most interesting landscape photography is a-typical. Consider capturing a decrepit building, sprawling (or even small and meandering) roadways, and people or urban environments interacting with natural ones.
4. Beach landscape photography ideas.
- Capture the grainy detail: Your beach is likely less visually busy than other landscapes, so focus on the finer things, consider incorporating the texture of sand and rocks into your foreground, or the imprints in the sand left by people, sea, and wildlife.
- Take advantage of being by water: Your beach’s water can be your best friend if you’d like it to be. Play with the reflections you can see from the water, how the light glistens on it, capture movement from the tide, how beachgoers interact with the water, or characteristics from the shoreline.
- Mix up your gear: Consider bringing gear you might not normally, for instance, a filter, new lens, tripod, or different camera. ND filters might help you capture the sky and body of water at your beach in a different way. A film camera might help you portray a mood you wouldn’t be able to replicate with a digital camera.
- Make the sun your best friend: Sunset and sunrise will of course make your beach landscape photography breathtaking, but so will harsh, bright sun. Experiment with different kinds of light at the beach, and what type of mood each one brings.
- Feature the human footprint: People and their things can make an image more dynamic and interesting, even a landscape photograph. Think of ways to incorporate this, such as a picnic lunch or group of friends sunning themselves, or show the human impacts at a beach, such as trash, or fish netting.
5. Constructed landscape photography ideas.
- Pay attention to color: The world is your oyster when it comes to constructed landscape photography. The practice to expand or narrow your final product based on color is one worth considering. Maybe your piece will be more monochromatic, maybe your B&W scene incorporates some element of color, maybe you’re going monochromatic, or you’re working with complementary colors.
- Narrow your subject: Do more by saying less, and narrow in on a singular subject or idea for your constructed landscape photography. For example, the desert, crashing waves, a dense forest, and an industrial park. There are tons of options, despite a seemingly narrowed scope!
- Remove an element: When making your constructed landscape photograph, think of removing an element from your work. This might add to the strength of the composition and story, so zoom in and out, play around with different angles and perspectives that help you make a decision to remove inconsequential or complicating elements.
- Mix your media: You as the photographer make your own rules about your photography, so think about what other artful media to add to your constructed landscape photography–have an old paint set you could break open? Consider both digital and analog manipulation, both in terms of what you manipulate in your scene before taking the photograph or after during your post-processing.
- Say something: Constructed landscape photography adds another element of your own creativity and ideas. So in addition to the aesthetic considerations, add your point of view, philosophical or political, to your artwork. Consider how to express what you want to say with your constructed landscape. What made you take the picture in the first place, and what is compelling you to add a layer of construction?
6. Panoramic landscape photography.
- Think outside the box: Panoramic landscape photography can be more than (or sometimes majestically just!) a mountain range. Think beyond the traditional. Try capturing a panoramic urban landscape, a vertical shot, or try stitching together before and afters of the same scene, such as day to night, dramatic weather changes, or winter to summer.
- Go 360: Transform your panoramic landscape photo into a 360-degree one. This topsy-turvy way of looking at your panorama turns your image spherical, resembling a “tiny planet.” This view in some cases replicates the feeling of being in the scene, and can really show off things such as tall structures.
- Include a moving object: Incorporating a moving object into your panoramic landscape photography is not for the faint of heart, nor an entry-level skill, but it’s a great one to develop and leads to an interesting photo being produced. Try your hand at capturing an animal running, a car driving, any sort of interesting movement that could occur in your scene.
- Frame the night sky: A panoramic landscape photo is a great way to demonstrate the vastness of the night sky. Consider finding and enhancing natural leading lines, such as a cluster of stars, the northern lights, or even an urban horizon lit up at night.
- Experiment with aerial: If you feel like you’ve tried everything when it comes to panoramic landscape photography, maybe it’s time to add a drone to the mix. Imagine how different your panorama could be from several stories above ground level. Think of spaces you can’t get up to high enough yourself and see what it could look like with a drone.
Experiment with light, equipment, and style.
Now that you have some ideas for landscape photography by location, you might want some more to try out on your lighting, equipment and techniques, and style. Composition, subject matter, design, and elements of other artistic practices can always advance your own photos, so read along.
1. Drone landscape photography.
- Bring the human element into the frame: Sometimes it’s hard to capture the human impact on the environment. With drone landscape photography, you may have a different ability to show the scale of impact, however, thus compelling your point of view. Consider the impact of seeing an entire oil spill take up vast stretches of ocean, for instance.
- Be extra conscious of composition: Shooting from a bird’s eye perspective can give an almost 2D appearance to your landscape photography, distilling elements almost into abstraction, so be extra mindful of your composition. Consider how certain composition rules might play out differently from an aerial perspective and experiment.
- Think of your photos like graphic design: Think of what you see when taking off in an airplane. Roads and homes become lines and blocks. Similarly, drone photography can make a scene look quite graphical in nature. Keep your eyes peeled for graphic elements, such as flowing interesting lines, repeating patterns, and shapes. They’ll make for compelling drone landscape photography.
2. Black and white landscape photography.
- Practice seeing in black and white: Good black and white photos result in the photographer looking at a scene differently. To level up your B&W landscape photography game, try to see the world in black and white. Your digital camera may have a monochrome mode, where you can preview your photo and see your world in black and white, helping you gauge good scenes for B&W landscape photos in the future.
- Go abstract: B&W removes an element of information for your viewer–color. Why not double down and further simplify your image by finding abstraction in your landscape? Follow a natural line, repeating pattern, texture, or interesting shape and see how much more dramatic it can appear in black and white.
- Chase the light: It should go without saying that light makes for an interesting subject, but especially in black and white landscape photography. Soft to hard light, direct or indirect, play around with how dramatically it can change the shot, and how it can add to your B&W landscape composition and tonal contrast.
3. Infrared landscape photography.
- Go for black and white: Double down on the hauntingly beautiful effects of infrared landscape photography by going black and white. You may notice effects that surprise you, lean into it and gather further ideas and inspiration, for instance, light significantly amplifies in infrared.
- Experiment with tone and contrast: Get a handle on the change in tones that occur with infrared landscape photography by having fun with the lush color. Your style and way of seeing may need to change to take into account all the changes in tone and contrast, so consider adding an IR filter to your gear.
- Try both natural and urban: Infrared can make a photo look uneasy, so lean into this when shooting your infrared landscape photography. Explore the effects infrared can have in a natural environment. You’ll notice blue water, the sky, and greenery changes significantly. What do you notice happens in your urban environment?
4. Landscape night photography.
- Master the complexity of astrophotography: You’ll need patience, time, and at least a tripod, good camera, and lenses to start producing astrophotography, but the end result is simply stunning. It’s a bit of a learning curve, especially if you aren’t versed in long exposure, but the night sky is a compelling subject worth your consideration.
- Outline a silhouette: Right before or after your sky goes pitch black, there’s a beautiful time for landscape night photography. Think about incorporating a form into your frame, such as a building, person, or natural form such as a tree. Because of how dark it is, the form will be silhouetted against the sky.
- Befriend the urban environment: Once you’ve maxed your ideas in a more natural environment, explore the sky and the light it produces, and consider finding the unnatural stuff. From eerie street signs and bokeh style traffic lights to the light from buildings and suburban homes, the urban environment can be really fun to explore and capture in landscape night photography.
5. Long exposure landscape photography.
- Make stillness your focus: Rather than creating a long exposure of a singular subject matter within your frame, consider a long exposure on the entire scene with the exception of a focused singular subject at a stand-still. Try this with a person, or even wildlife (if they don’t move! For your long exposure landscape photography.
- Harness the light: Light can really come alive through long exposure landscape photography, more specifically, the movement of it. From traffic and car lights, to light from the night sky. Consider even attaching a light to a moving object yourself, such as giving a sparkler to a friend on a bike. But more on that later.
- Go where there’s movement: It might seem obvious, but sometimes we can find more long exposure landscape photography ideas within confines. Move from finding movement in nature, such as a rushing river, or cascading waterfall, to right in your urban environment, such as a ride at an amusement park ride, or runners at a marathon.
6. Foggy landscape photography.
- Find the light: Light is intrinsic to photography, but being able to harness it for a foggy landscape photo makes it really special. Seeing these pockets or subtle rays of light through the fog can feel magical, so be sure if there is sun out during the fog to hunt for it. Hint: make sure the light comes from behind the fog.
- Go high: Fog can create natural screens and hide elements of our environment, which is maybe why it’s so mysterious. An interesting shot to get could be demonstrating how objects can unveil themselves from the fog, such as the tops of buildings or mountain peaks.
- Incorporate bright colors: Contrasting a gray foggy landscape with a pop of color will add visual interest and dynamism to your shot, and may completely change the mood. Find bright colors for your foggy landscape photograph through inanimate objects, like traffic lights, or find or place a person wearing a vividly colored outfit.
7. Golden hour landscape photography.
- Find beauty in the mundane: It seems like anything can feel magical when it’s golden hour. See how far you can extend this thinking. Is there a landscape you might consider photographing during golden hour you wouldn’t normally? An open field, even industrial complex, or deserted street? Try broadening your scope when you’re taking golden hour landscape photography.
- Find the shadows: For the majority of our 24 hour day, we’re usually bathed in direct or harsh sun or shrouded under the cover of darkness. Golden hour landscape photography helps convey a different mood and emotional intent with the sun’s low angle, so find those long shadows that can add a different compositional element, even texture.
- Take golden hour photos all year: Golden hour looks different and occurs at different points in time all year long. This also means the environment you’re shooting is also changing, so experiment with taking golden hour landscape photography all year long. Capture early morning rush hour in the spring and compare this light to the late summer sun setting on a field.
8. Light painting landscape photography.
- Add variety with your light source: Once you’ve assembled your gear and got a handle on light painting landscape photography, it’s time to have fun! Experiment with your light source, go analog with candles or sparklers (just be extremely careful, especially in a natural environment), or choose from a plethora of LED lights.
- Experiment with different shapes: Like choosing a light source, experimenting with different shapes your light will take can be equally thrilling. Explore how your shapes might mimic or interact with the landscape or maybe you’d like to spell out a word or short phrase to convey your message.
- Use color: Choosing a color or colors for your light painting is yet another creative consideration to play with when creating light painting landscape photography. Consider your color choice based on your environment, and the mood you’re trying to strike. Read up on color theory for even more ideas on color combinations.
9. High key landscape photography.
- Hone your post-processing skills: Post-processing is essential in high key landscape photography. Your editing can further convey the mood you’re going for. It’s where you can hone in on the tonal values in your photo, and adjust your photo’s brightness and exposure. Make sure to carve yourself out a nice amount of time for this step to really push your work.
- Pump up those winter whites: High key landscape photography allows you to break with some of the traditional landscape photography conventions to take photos you might not normally. This might open up shots you wouldn’t have considered before, like the near-white out you can sometimes get in the wintertime.
- Focus on the texture: Similar to black and white photography, high key landscape photography allows us to drown out some of the visual noise to focus in on other things. Take texture for instance. When scouting, look for subject matter that is textured or patterned.
10. Low key landscape photography.
- Try black and white: Likely the mood you’re going for in your low key landscape photography is on the brooding, even ominous side. Why not double down and take it black and white too to really hone in on your moody vibe? Keep in mind you’re still looking for some contrast and composition.
- Become a night owl: Similar to black and white, nighttime may help convey the mood you’re trying to go for with low key landscape photography. Minimizing the amount of light you’re contending with by shooting at night may help you spot shots better too, as nighttime is naturally low key.
- Lean into the stormy weather: A clouded-over sky is a great way to capture your low key landscape photography, even during the day time. Turbulent weather can add to the mood of your shot, and create unique, dynamic lighting. Brewing clouds over a lonely industrial environment or an incoming storm on the horizon sound sinister and captivating to us!