10 landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

10 landscape photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

Landscape Photography Mistake No. 9: Poor composition

Landscape Photography Tips: perfect your composition

When faced with a stunning vista it’s easy to get carried away and start firing off shots, but landscape images require careful consideration.

It’s important to look around the scene and find the ideal shooting angle that makes the best of the subjects available and include some foreground interest.

Although there are times when a centralised subject and symmetry win the day, many landscape images benefit from a composition that observes the rule of thirds.

This simple rule splits the scene into three equally sized columns and three equally sized rows, creating a grid of nine rectangles.

Locating key elements within the scene along these lines, or at their intersections can really improve composition.

Many cameras have a rule of thirds grid view option available on the LCD screen, and in some cases in the viewfinder, which can be a useful guide to composition.

It’s particularly important to decide where to position the horizon within the scene.

Locating it along the upper horizontal line of the rule of thirds grid instantly gives the land greater emphasis because it occupies two thirds of the image.

Alternatively, positioning it along the bottom line in the grid gives the sky greater emphasis, which may work well when photographing a sunset with a silhouetted foreground, for example.


10 Rules of Photo Composition (and why they work)
Water Photography: take stunning pictures of water in any environment
Leading Lines: photography’s most underrated composition device
Composing pictures with foreground interest: simple ways to draw in the eye


Landscape Photography Mistake No. 10: Soft details

How to take sharp landscape photos: a simple tutorial for getting your scene in focus every time you shoot

Although using a small aperture increases depth of field, the zone of acceptable sharpness within an image, it also increases the impact of diffraction, the bending of light as it passes over the aperture blades.

Bending the light means that it isn’t focused on the sensor and consequently the image is softened.

The smaller the aperture, the greater the proportion of bent light rays and the softer the image, so that even the point of focus is softer than it is at a larger aperture.

The worst effects of diffraction can be avoided by using an aperture setting that’s a stop or two larger than the minimum value available.

However, it’s worth experimenting with your lens to find out what its optimum aperture is.

This can be done by shooting a series of images of the same subject taking shots at every aperture setting.

Then, check the sharpness of the focus point in each image to can find the sharpest one which was taken at your lens’s optimum aperture.

Focus stacking allows you to use your lenses optimum aperture and still create an image that is sharp from front to back.

All you need to do this shoot a sequence of images at the optimum aperture, but with the focus set to a different distance in each.

Start with the focus on the near foreground and gradually adjust the focus for each shot until you take one with the focus on the horizon.

It’s essential that the camera doesn’t move while the sequence is shot, so use a solid tripod.

The last stage is to merge the images, fortunately this can then be done automatically using Photoshop’s Photo Merge tools or specialist software such as Combine ZP, which is available for free download.


Master your camera’s autofocus: which AF points to use (and when to use them)
See the light like a pro: everything you were afraid to ask about using natural light
10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to fix them)
First camera crash course: simple solutions for mastering your new DSLR

  • KG

    Sometimes I do wonder about this site/mag. The layout for the tips is awful, and then you hit us with an advert after 2 pages [well, I was] Just put these simple tips on ONE page, why on earth do you spread them across pages as if that meant there was more content!? I appreciate that the tips are for beginners, but I’m willing to bet most of them give up after 2 pages because of all the needless scrolling

  • ArieLex

    Hmm, I’m pretty sure the horizon in the 2nd image in No. 4 is not level. It does slope down a bit towards the land.

  • To address your points… we need ads to be able to give away free content. We could put it behind a paywall, but no one likes that.

    As for the multiple pages, wouldn’t you be scrolling more if it was all on one page? Anyway, in the past we’ve put everything on one page, and people complain about having to scroll endlessly down. Spread it out, and likewise people get upset. So our general rule is about 600-700 words per page. Most of our content on the site is 1-2 pages. This post, however, is 3000 words long!

  • tom rose

    “We need ads to be able to give away free content. We could put it behind a paywall, but no one likes that.”

    Untrue! I would happily pay a subscription for ad-free content, so long as it is high-quality content. I would even more happily pay a fee for use of a search engine to get away from the once excellent, now mostly annoying, Google search.

  • Robert Walsh

    I go to a page that you can see for free with ads. You also can pay to have ad free viewing. Those pages load so much faster without all the ads trying to load. I will start to read an article and then the page shifts away from what I was reading because another ad just loaded, very fustrating.