Photography tips

Think about horizons

This is an old tip but a good one. Before you take a landscape shot, always consider the horizon on two fronts:

  • Is it straight? While you can always straighten images later in post-production, it’s easier if you get it right in-camera.
  • Where is the horizon positioned in the frame? A natural spot for the horizon is along one of the rule of thirds gridlines rather than in the middle of the frame. Of course, rules are meant to be broken – but I find that, unless you’re photographing a very striking scene, the rule of thirds usually works here.

Select Focus Points

Imagine a wide-angle beach shot where the sand, sea and sky stretch out forever. While there’s a lot of beauty and value in a photo like this, it’s still missing something. A focus point is an element or subject within your composition that draws the viewer into the image. The right focus points can completely change the effect of your beach photography. Imagine that same vast beach scene with the addition of a single figure walking along with a long scarf blowing in the wind. You now have a composition that draws in your viewer and creates a context to your story.

Avoid The Masses

When capturing beach photographs that highlight the natural beauty of the environment, the last thing you need is a bunch of people in the way. To avoid the crowds, arrive when there aren’t other people at the beach. Early morning is usually the best as people love to visit the beach after work and watch the sunset. But even some beaches are popular in the morning with dog-walkers and swimmers – especially in the heat of summer. If you want to focus your beach photography on the tranquillity of nature, do some research and spend a couple of early mornings and evenings driving around to check out the activity. Look for quieter beaches that are considered hidden gems. See also: how to photograph a desert?

Include People In Your Shots

Ok, we just talked about avoiding crowds in beach photography. But while it’s annoying to have people show up to your hidden gem of a beach during your shoot, you can work them into your composition. A lone walker with their dog racing ahead of them makes for a perfect photo. Alternatively, a group of fashion-conscious teens hanging out, or even a couple arm in arm add a lot of narrative to your landscape images. Be mindful of who you’re photographing and be sure to avoid revealing someone’s identity.


A polarizing filter is a must-have item for outdoor photographers. Polarizers work by only letting light in from certain angles. You can rotate the filter to improve color saturation or remove unwanted surface glare. These filters can also help to cut through atmospheric haze, making distant mountains appear more clear and in-focus. They also help to separate the clouds from the sky, darkening them and making them stand out more.


In most cases, you’ll want to include foreground in your landscape images. Foreground can help to set the stage for your composition, and add context to your image. A particularly interesting foreground can even serve as the main point of interest in your photo.


When composing your images, keep your eye on the horizon. You’ll want to ensure it’s perfectly level and not dipping off to the side. You’ll also want to pay attention to the position of the horizon. You can move it lower to include more of an interesting sky, or raise it to capture more of the foreground in your image. In most cases, you’ll want to avoid having it dead center in your image since this will cause the photo to look like it’s cut in half.


Look for opportunities to use a slow shutter speed to create long exposures. You can gently blur movement –such as rushing waterfalls, drifting clouds, or rippling fields to add a soft, artistic effect to your images. If you’re using slow shutter speeds during the day, you’ll most likely need an ND filter to help filter out some of the light when capturing long-exposures.


In some cases, though, you’ll want to use a telephoto for your images. Wildlife photography, for example, usually requires the use of a telephoto. Additionally, you can use a telephoto to help far-away elements such as mountains or the moon appear closer.


Wide-angle lenses are extremely popular for creating landscape images. Wide-angles tend to emphasize the sense of distance and space into the scene; and cause objects that are close to appear larger and more imposing. They’re especially ideal for capturing images that include a lot of foreground.