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The 5 tips on taking great pictures of landscape photography - The Photography Express

The 5 tips on taking great pictures of landscape photography

The 5 tips on taking great pictures of landscape photographyThere are many resources out there that talk about how to take great pictures of landscape photography. You may have read some or even many of those before and you may find those resources very helpful for your photography needs. Nevertheless, I want this opportunity to further build up your experience by providing you my top 5 tips on how to take great pictures of landscape photography.

In fact, to practice my skills on landscape photography I’ve recently taken the “Atlanta Night Photography” classed offered by “The Showcase School”. (It is the same photography school where I went for the “Night Portrait” class that you can read the post HERE). The instructor for this class was Judith Pishnery and she is a wonderful photography instructor. In that class Judith gave us handout and went over a very detail class of how to take great pictures of landscape photography. She went over the recommended camera gears and showed us examples of what camera settings to use when we go out for our photo walk that night. If you live near the Atlanta metro area, I highly recommend you to take Judith Pishnery’s class. I am certain that you will learn a lot from her.

With that said, below are my top 5 tips on taking great pictures of landscape photography from my experience:

1) Foreground, middle ground, background

foreground_middleground_backgroundI am sure if you flip through pages of any photography books, one of the very first techniques that they teach on landscape photography is the element of foreground, middle ground and background. You must arrange these three elements to work in harmony so that no missing areas or gaps in the composition to distract the viewer. It is a very simple yet important technique to layout your photo so that it is interesting enough to keep your viewers’ attention.

In the picture on the left, I set up the picture so that the foreground includes the trees and part of the highway, the middle ground to be the bridge and lastly downtown as the background. The camera settings are: ISO 100, F16, 30S at 96mm.

2) Rule of thirds

If you remember this post, I talked about how you should not over think while taking your shots that includes the rule of thirds. However, with landscape photography this is the time that you should think about the rule of thirds. The basic principle of this rule is to break your image down into thirds (horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts in total. Place 4 important parts of your image into the 4 intersection points to frame your image and that’s it! You can set your camera’s viewfinder into grids so that it is easier for you to plan the shot.

3) White balance

One of the main things that I learn from Judith during class was the white balance (WB) setting of camera when taking pictures of landscape photography. I found out that I have been using the wrong settings all the time because even auto WB can do most of the job well for photographers, we should always manually switch to a particular WB setting in night photography. This sounds pretty obvious to me until she mentioned to the class to use daylight WB settings for a night shot. I hesitated at the beginning but after trying out this technique my own, I found out that the color is actually closer to how they appear to the eyes with this setting. Here is what I learn in summary:

Daylight mode – Use at night for a more accurate light reading.

Tungsten mode – Use after sunset to increase blue in the sky.

4) F stops and other camera settings

The f stop that I usually use for landscape is between f11-16. Sometimes I use f8 for faster shutter speed in certain situation but I tried to keep at least f11 to have better depth of field. When focusing on your picture, set your focus point to about 1/3 of the way down so the overall picture will be focus. To give you an example, if we look at the picture at tip # 1 again, I set the focus point to where the bridge is right before all the downtown buildings locate.

For ISO, it is essential to use around 100-400 to reduce noise in your photo. In order to achieve this, a long exposure around 20-30 seconds is needed and tripod is absolutely essential.

5) Tape your lens

gaffer_vinyl_tapeIf you are using a zoom lens, do not think all camera shakes and movements are eliminated during long exposure on a tripod. You must also tape your lens on the zoom ring and focus ring to eliminate them being moved in or out during the shot. You can do this by first setting up the shot with the zoom and focus that you want, and then use a gaffer tape (like the picture on the left) to carefully tape the lens. Remember to also turn off any imagine stabilizer for better result in your photos at night.


There are certainly a lot more tips on taking great pictures of landscape photography. I only want to give you the best of what I’ve experienced so far so you don’t have to spend the time I did to get to this stage. I hope you get a lot out of it and as always feel free to email me at gary@thephotographyexpress.com or comment below if you have any questions or feedback. If you have not done so already, please visit my facebook page HERE and follow me at Twitter HERE. Have a great week and keep taking pictures photographers!

About Gary

A passionate photographer with goals to fulfill your photography passion and motivate you to take pictures even when life is busy!


  1. wow. great list here. I love the rule of thirds. I have never thought of it that way before. I think that principle can also be used for video shoots as well. Thanks!

    • Thanks Jonathan! And yes you are right this principle can be used for video shoot as well. If you want to take a step further you can try combining this principle with the foreground/middle ground/background technique to create an image that’s even more appealing to the eyes.

  2. Very helpful tips. Would never have thought of taping the lens to limit the camera shakes! I love reading your posts Gary. I’m hoping to invest in an SLR early next year so I may need your expertise to help me in my decision making.

    • Thanks Heather. And yes forgetting to tape the lens is probably the easiest mistake to occur in landscape photography. As a photographer we always thought we are invincible with our camera on a tripod but that is not always the case. The zoom lens can slide up and down that could ruin your shots. Btw, thanks for loving to read my posts so much!

  3. Hi Gary,
    Thanks for the nice review, so great to have you in the class. J