The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

The 10 Commandments of Landscape Photography (and how to break them)

Commandment 2: Use a wideangle lens

Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

Image copyright Shaun Egan

A lot of landscape photography is about capturing sweeping views. Wide-angle lenses are the logical choice because they allow you to get more into the frame. Anything with an effective focal length shorter than 50mm (or 35mm if you’re using an APS-C format camera) is considered a wide-angle lens, but 21mm and 24mm lenses are popular choices. To get an equivalent view on an APS-C camera you need to use a lens with a focal length of around 14mm-16mm.

You can use the 18-55mm lens that’s usually supplied with an SLR, but the best results are produced by fixed focal-length lenses, which are generally sharper across the frame.

Chromatic aberration, which reveals itself as coloured haloes along high-contrast edges such as the horizon or along branches, is also usually better controlled by lenses with a fixed focal length (Learn more about chromatic aberration with our free photography cheat sheet).

These mono-focal length lenses also tend to suffer less from distortion, but then a little bowing isn’t usually noticeable in the average landscape.

The native aspect ratio of a camera is dictated by the shape of its sensor, which means that with the exception of Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds cameras, most images tend to be captured in 3:2 format.

However, there’s no reason you should stick to this. Landscapes can look great in portrait or landscape format, and in 16:9, 5:4, 4:3, square or any other format you care to use – panoramics, for example, can work particularly well.

Some digital cameras have an aspect-ratio setting that crops the JPEG files automatically to help you judge the format. And if you change your mind about the crop later on, you can simply use the uncropped raw file.

Alternatively, a couple of small pieces of card cut into two L-shapes can help you visualise the cropped image on the back of the camera.

Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

Image copyright Frank Krahmer

Break The Rules: Zoom in
It may not be the automatic choice for landscape photography, but a telephoto lens is useful for capturing distant details or isolating parts of a scene.

Landscape Photography Tips (and how to break them)

Using a longer lens reduces depth of field and appears to compress perspective so that interlocking hills look closer together, and repeating patterns in the landscape are emphasised.

Commandment 1: Shoot during the golden hour
Commandment 2: Use a wideangle lens
Commandment 3: Use the Rule of Thirds
Commandment 4: Find foreground interest
Commandment 5: Use a steady tripod
Commandment 6: Focus one third in
Commandment 7: Balance the exposure
Commandment 8: Boost greens and blues
Commandment 9: Use a narrow aperture
Commandment 10: Use a low ISO setting


Clever ways to shoot flat, lowland terrain
How to shoot dramatic pictures of the sea
Landscape photography ideas for rivers, waterfalls and lakes
Landscape photo ideas for creative pictures of mountains and hills

  • jmeyer

    Thanks for the kind words, durand! Glad to have you here!