Mother Earth: How to Capture Images of Her Beauty

Woman taking a picture of a sea landscape with a professional camera

Key Points

  • Learn the foundational aspects of taking great landscape photos.

  • Know what to look for in a quality photography course, and consider enrolling in one.

  • Understand a camera's settings and how they affect your photography.

  • Recognize that taking great landscape photos is a form of art and a technical skill.

If you find yourself stunned by the beauty of planet earth, you're not alone. Previous generations experienced the same feeling of awe while gazing at the various landscapes of earth. Unlike them, you're able to capture these moments with photos. Photography is a skill, and taking great landscape photos is a specialized niche in the photography world.

Like any skill, it takes practice to get good at it – especially if your end goal is to truly take great landscape photos to mount on your wall or give as gifts. This article contains everything needed to turn you from an amateur to a professional landscape photographer – from beginner tips to a rundown on camera settings. 

The Basic Ingredients of a Great Landscape Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture of a gorgeous landscape? That's worth a whole novel. The cotton-candy sky of dusk, snow-capped mountains, a waterfall roaring with power—Mother Earth offers all these landscapes for you to witness, appreciate, and photograph.

At its core, landscape photography requires four essential ingredients: composition, lighting, exposure, and location or subject. That may not sound like a lot, but four ingredients combined in different ways create many recipes. Whether you're a tourist with a disposable camera or a pro photographer with a several thousand dollar setup, these four aspects of landscape photography are necessary for your next project.

A nature photographer takes a landscape photo


Composition refers to arranging elements in the frame to create a visually appealing image. A well-composed photo has a clear focal point, a balance between positive and negative space, and the use of leading lines or symmetry to guide the eye through the image.


Lighting plays a crucial role in shaping the mood and atmosphere of a landscape photo. Good lighting makes an average scene look stunning, while poor lighting detracts from an otherwise great picture. Understanding how to work with natural light and using artificial light sources helps you create better landscape photos.


Exposure refers to the amount of light a camera captures. Proper exposure ensures the scene is well-lit and details don't get lost in shadows or blown-out highlights. You adjust exposure through the camera settings such as ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.


Choosing a visually interesting and appealing location or subject is crucial for creating a great landscape photo. Consider the time of day, weather conditions, and seasons when planning your photo shoot. Unique subjects add depth and meaning to a photo, while a location filled with eye candy is the perfect backdrop for your image.

The Bonus Ingredient: YOU

Every artist leaves a unique footprint. When reading Jane Austen or looking at a painting by Salvador Dali, you instantly know it's a work by them. Art does not have a rigid set of rules every artist must follow. What separates an artist from the rest is their ability to work within the given constraints of their profession while also testing the limits and leaving their own mark.

Part of photography is finding the unique perspective you bring. Use a low angle or bird's eye view to capture a landscape differently. Include people or objects in the scene to add another layer. Always remember, don't do what you think others want to see. Do what captures your imagination! Add your flare. Every artist before you has done the same. 

With an understanding of the foundations of good landscape photography, you are well on your way to composing a great shot. There are a few more tips for you to consider before beginning, so keep reading. 

Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners

It's easy to take a picture: Just whip out your phone and snap a shot. A great photo – especially one featuring landscapes – requires more effort. The following tips ensure your photography is top-tier:

Invest in a Tripod

Tripods are essential for landscape photography as they stabilize and prevent camera shake, particularly in low-light conditions. Look for a sturdy tripod that supports the weight of your camera and lens. 

If you’re shooting in windy conditions, consider using a tripod with a center column hook to add weight and prevent movement.

Include Foreground Elements in Your Composition

Adding foreground elements to your compositions creates a sense of depth and leads the viewer's eye into the scene. Look for patterns, textures, and shapes in the foreground that complement the background elements. For example, rocks, trees, flowers, or water reflections create a foreground that enriches the photo.

Experiment With Light

The quality of light is crucial for landscape photography, and the best times to shoot are early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the light is soft and warm. During these times, the light is low on the horizon and creates long shadows, which adds depth and texture to your images.

A traveler photographs a nature landscape from rock formation

Read the Weather Report

Different weather conditions significantly impact the mood and atmosphere of your landscape photos. Overcast days provide even, soft light, while rain or snow creates dramatic and moody scenes. On bright, sunny days, look for shaded areas to shoot in to avoid harsh shadows and overexposure.

Use Leading Lines

Leading lines in the scene draw the viewer's eye into the image. These are natural lines such as rivers and mountain peaks or manufactured elements such as fences or pathways. Use leading lines to create a sense of depth and movement in your compositions.

Try Out Different Compositions

Landscape photography is about capturing the beauty of the natural world. Finding new ways to shoot a scene is crucial in creating engaging images. Try different perspectives and viewpoints, such as shooting from a low or high angle or zooming in or out to change the scale of the scene. Experiment to see what works and what doesn't.

Edit Your Photos

Post-processing is an integral part of the landscape photography process and brings out the best in your shots. Use software such as Lightroom or Photoshop to adjust the exposure, color balance, and saturation, remove distractions or enhance details. Remember that post-processing should enhance the scene's natural beauty – not detract from it.

The camera is the apex piece of equipment when taking landscape photographs. Every photographer agrees on that. The area of debate lies in the realm of settings. Part of photography's fun is experimenting with camera settings.

Sometimes your settings work and create a beautiful photo. Other times, they produce a picture destined for deletion. Either way, test different camera settings and see what happens. Don't be afraid of producing subpar work! It's part of the artistic process and crucial in improving your photography. 

Camera settings play an important role; it's good to consider all the settings you use in photography. 

General Guidelines for Camera Settings

Each scene requires different settings, but these general guidelines ensure you’re always poised to capture the sheer beauty of landscapes in a photograph. 


The aperture controls the amount of light that enters the camera and affects the depth of field. For landscape photography, use a small aperture (high f-number) such as f/11 or f/16 to maximize the depth of field and keep the foreground and background in focus.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed controls the light exposure time on the camera's sensor. For landscape photography, you typically want to use a slow shutter speed to capture motion and create a sense of flow in water or clouds. A shutter speed of 1/15th to one second is standard in low light conditions, while a faster shutter speed of 1/100th to 1/250th is used in bright daylight to freeze motion.


ISO controls the camera's sensitivity to light. Adjusting it prevents overexposure or underexposure in different lighting conditions. For landscape photography, start with the lowest ISO possible to minimize noise and retain image quality. Landscape photography in good light usually needs an ISO of 100 to 400. Low-light conditions require an ISO of 800 to 1600.

A photographer photographs the sunrise


Autofocus is the most common focus mode for landscape photography, but you may need to switch to manual focus if the autofocus system has trouble locking onto the subject. Instead, focus on the foreground element or an object in the distance to maximize the depth of field and keep both the foreground and background in focus.

Exposure Compensation

Exposure compensation allows you to adjust the camera's exposure settings to make the image brighter or darker. It's helpful in challenging lighting conditions where the camera's meter may not accurately measure the light. For landscape photography, a slight positive exposure compensation brightens the image and highlights details in the shadows.

Taking Good Landscape Photos With a Phone

The principles of good photography still apply when you use a phone camera. Likewise, the quality of the camera on your phone impacts the quality of your pictures. To level up your phone's camera, use some accessories. Buy lenses, use filters, and get tripod adapters to expand the capabilities of your smartphone camera. Whether you're rocking an Android, or part of the iPhone clan, these accessories make your landscape photos even better. 

Fortunately, you don't have to go alone. There are many available courses to help you along your photography journey. How do you pick? Find out below. 

The Four Fundamentals of a Quality Landscape Photography Course

A good landscape photography course must meet specific requirements. If it doesn't, take your money elsewhere. This course is an investment, so don't invest in something with little to no return. 

Skill Level

Find a course that matches your skill level. For example, if you've got a few years of photography under your belt, don't join a course that teaches you what ISO means. Conversely, if you're beginning, purchase a course that teaches you the fundamentals of landscape and general photography.

Type of Instruction

When it comes to landscape photography courses, there are two main approaches to instruction.

The first approach is lecture-based, where the teacher talks about landscape photography, showing you examples. This approach works if you prefer learning through theory.

The second approach is more hands-on, taking you out into the field to watch the teacher snap landscape photos in real time. This approach is more effective for most because it's more interactive.

Many courses blend both methods to provide a balanced education in landscape photography. It's up to your learning style to determine what works best for you.


Always opt for the course with a money-back guarantee. This may not matter to you if the class costs 15 bucks, but if you're purchasing a several thousand dollars, hands-on class, then make sure it's possible to get your money back if you're not satisfied with the course. 

Course Content

When it comes to landscape photography, there's a wide range of subgenres and techniques to explore. The course you're interested in needs to cover topics that align with your photographic interests. 

Before making a purchase, carefully review the course's table of contents. If the course focuses on HDR landscapes, but you're interested in learning how to create impressionistic landscapes, look for a different course. Similarly, if the course focuses on post-processing but you want to learn how to choose camera settings in the field, find a class that fits those needs. 

Choose a course that fits your passions, and only settle for one that meets your requirements.

Now you know what to look for, here are some actual courses to check out.

Group of landscape photographers take pictures in mountains

Landscape Photography Courses

Based on your personal photograph needs, which course is best for you? Check out the four courses below to find out.


LOCATIONZ is a photography course on Udemy. This course, taught by Ray Salisbury, focuses on intermediate-level landscape photography and provides valuable tips for students.

Salisbury covers basic photography concepts such as aperture, shutter speed, and exposure compensation but also goes into advanced techniques like scouting, the rule of odds, and color theory. The course is hands-on and teaches through practical shooting exercises. 

In addition to the five hours of instruction, students receive behind-the-scenes videos and RAW files to practice post-processing. The course covers editing techniques from RAW processing to adjustment layers. 

It's a budget-friendly option and is often on sale. Udemy offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, making it a safe purchase option.

Photographing the World

Photographing the World is an online course produced by Fstoppers and taught by Elia Locardi: a renowned landscape photographer.

Locari's course covers basic and advanced landscape photography techniques and is suitable for beginner and intermediate photographers. Topics include aperture, shutter speed, gear selection, focus stacking, long exposure photography, and neutral density filters.

The course also includes lessons on post-processing techniques, from basic RAW processing to advanced time blending and multiple exposure blending. The instruction is a mix of in-studio and in-the-field classes, with Locardi demonstrating his approach to landscape photography.

The course includes over 12 hours of instruction, RAW files used in the class, eight behind-the-scenes episodes, and access to a private Facebook group where students ask Locardi and other course members for help. 

The only downside is the cost of the course. Photographing the World is priced at $299 for a digital download, which may seem expensive. However, it provides comprehensive instruction and resources for students.

Landscape photography gear rests on a log in nature

Landscape Photography

Landscape Photography is a course taught by renowned landscape photographer Marc Muench, published in numerous magazines, including National Geographic

This course is for beginner and intermediate photographers. It covers topics ranging from basic settings and gear concepts to more advanced techniques such as tilt-shift lenses and long-exposure photography. The course features 27 comprehensive lessons, a mix of theoretical instruction and in-the-field tutorials, and a third of the course time dedicated to post-processing techniques. 

Muench covers light, focus, and composition in detail and provides tips on achieving beautiful landscape photos. It’s a mix of theoretical instruction and in-the-field tutorials, making it useful for beginners who need to see the concepts applied in real-life situations. Muench is knowledgeable and helpful, but he spends a lot of time telling stories, which may not be for everyone.

The course costs $49 for online access.

Insider's Look to Capturing Timeless Landscapes

Insiders Look to Capturing Timeless Landscapes is an excellent option for intermediate to advanced landscape photographers.

Led by award-winning photographer Ramtin Kazemi, the course offers a unique behind-the-scenes look at how he shoots stunning landscapes in the Canadian Rockies. Kazemi shares his tips and techniques but also takes you along for the journey – even when things don't go as planned.

Although the course is short at just over an hour, it's full of valuable insights and lessons. As a bonus, purchasing the course grants gives you access to the KelbyOne library, which includes over 700 video courses. Keep in mind that the course assumes a strong understanding of manual camera settings and post-processing skills.

In the world of landscape photography, the technique takes you far—something a quality course teaches you, but it takes a few magical components to turn your photos into a work of art.

The Artistic Components of a Great Landscape Photo

Photography is all about imagery and what you do with it, so when developing a composition, interject some creativity. 

Take the famous Ansel Adams. He took all his photos in black and white, which made his work instantly recognizable. He also shot from unique perspectives, such as underneath a waterfall, giving power to the image other angles can't deliver. 

Adams’s photos also tell stories – not just of the landscape, but of the people who lived there. The ruins of an old church in the foreground, with mighty mountains in the background, make for a stunning visual story.

Find ways to fit a tale within your photos, something that sparks your curiosity. What matters most is that you find your own work compelling.

Getting started is always challenging. Fortunately, there are some good ideas to get you out the door and into the great outdoors.

Hands hold up digital camera photographing nature landscape

Landscape Photography Ideas

Landscape photography allows you to capture the beauty of the world around you. Try experimenting with different times of day to capture various lighting and moods to get started. 

Shooting from a low or high perspective gives you a unique point of view. Look for leading lines. Patterns in the landscape help you create a strong composition.

Reflections in water or other reflective surfaces add unique elements to your shots. Capturing the essence of a place through its people and culture tells a more complete story. 

Consider trying black and white photography for a different take on the landscape, or create intentional camera movement to create abstract landscapes. Long exposures capture the movement of water or clouds, and weather conditions add drama to your shots. Finally, find a unique subject within a larger landscape and make it the focus of your shot to create a more impactful image.

Animals always add an element of wild wonder to landscape photography, though it sometimes takes sheer luck to be in the right place at the right time to capture a wild animal in their natural habitat.

Part of photographing landscapes is living out there as well. Don't be uninformed; learn the basics of camping.

Do As the Greats Did: Put In the Work

Whether you're Michael Kenna, Sebastião Salgado, Takeshi Mizukoshi, or Carr Clifton, the same rule applies: put in the work. Learn the basics of landscape photography, but more importantly, get out there and start taking pictures of this amazing planet.

As Ansel Adams said, "The whole world is, to me, very much 'alive' — all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can't look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life happening within them. The same goes for a mountain, a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood."

His words ring true but don't try to be Adams. Be yourself, learn the craft, and put in a whole lot of love. The last bit is significant; if you never make a penny off your landscape photography, it doesn't matter. If you do it for the joy it brings you, then that's worth more than any paycheck. 

Go on — the world is waiting!

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