landscape of lake and surrounding grass and trees

iPhone landscape photograph. Sintra hills in Portugal.

view of grass  hill and one tree in the background, blue skies and some white clouds

Lone tree. Landscape photo.

What is Landscape photography?

Landscape photography is the delightful art of capturing stunning scenes in the great outdoors. Whether it’s the untamed wilderness or a less bustling, non-urban area (because that’s a “cityscape”!), the aim is to showcase the beauty of the location.

It’s a way to freeze-frame the serene beauty of nature and light, forging a connection with the world around us. It whisks us away from the monotony of daily life into a realm where we can grasp a deeper understanding of nature. So, immerse yourself in a world far from the city, where color, shapes, and even some small and large critters abound.

Consider landscape photography as a leisurely art form. It demands a slow and thoughtful approach, encouraging you to observe and meditate on your surroundings. So, let your camera be your guide on this visual adventure!

In this craft, snapping shots of nature is a big deal. From a close-up-in perspective of a flower or a mushroom in a gorgeous location to a broader view that captures the essence of the surroundings, a good landscape photo tells a story about the location. It’s not just about the ground; it could be all about the sky, the forest, or the seaside.

But here’s the fun part—don’t let the definition of landscape photography limit you! You can shape your meaning, create your unique visual language, and just get out there and click away!

What is a good Landscape Photograph?

A landscape photo is an image that shows a vast view or a view that is a bit closer to you. Show different layers of interest and use light to create the mood. We will chat about layers of interest in a bit.

landscape, close-up of tree and boulders

What is so Special about Landscape Photography?

Landscape photography is like a magical teleporter that whisks you away to jaw-dropping places you’ve only dreamt of. It’s your passport to uncharted territories, offering a VIP front-row seat to the world’s spectacular wonders.

The Landscape Photographer, the Explorer

You’re not just a person with a camera – you’re an explorer on a quest for beauty. You’re venturing beyond your cozy comfort zone, dancing with the unknown, and stumbling upon beauty that defies the everyday humdrum.

Walking and Hiking

And let’s not forget the exercise part – some of these landscapes require a legit hike before you hit that photographic jackpot. It’s not just a stroll; it’s a journey that might leave you out of breath but with a camera full of memories.

Landscape photography: it’s like hitting the zen button. There’s something meditative about it, a therapeutic dance between you, your camera, and the serene surroundings. And oh, the art of light – it’s like being a wizard, experimenting with sunlight spells and capturing the magic that unfolds as the day goes on.

So, here’s to landscape photography – the ultimate blend of adventure and connection, capturing the wild, wonderful world one click at a time!

iPhone camera landscape photography

Is it a landscape if I photograph with my iPhone?

Absolutely, it’s a landscape fiesta, and your iPhone is the VIP guest! You are part of a large crowd of landscape photographers and aficionados!

If we were to compare it to art, it’s like insisting on using only oils for landscapes. Nope, not in this creative circus! Just like an artist can rock landscapes with charcoal, pastels, or even a crayon if they feel fancy, you can capture the beauty of nature with any camera at your disposal.

You’re in the landscape game, whether it’s a point-and-shoot, a mobile phone camera, or something more extravagant like Ansel Adams’ 8 x 10 cameras. You can even use a plastic marvel like the Holga camera, or the minimalist Pinhole cameras can join the party! The bottom line is that any camera that fits your hand or hangs around your neck is a potential landscape-capturing maestro.

So, let’s do fabulous landscape photography with our iPhones!

field with yellow flowers, trees in the background and blue sky

Quinta do Pisão, Portugal. iPhone landscape photograph.

What is the essence of landscape photography?

Think of landscape photography as a creative playground where you, the photographer, get to sprinkle your unique magic. It’s not just about clicking pictures; it’s about infusing your connection with nature, the stunning scene before you, and the vibes swirling within you into every shot.

The essence of your photograph is like your personal signature on the visual canvas. If your mission is to freeze-frame beauty – ta-da! That becomes the very essence of your landscape photography. It’s all about capturing and turning the feels into a visual masterpiece!

It’s personal!

Two people hiking in a foggy forest

People help you show the scale of things.

If I include a person in my landscape photography, will it still be considered a landscape photograph?

Absolutely! Tossing a person into your landscape photography mix is totally cool. But here’s the twist: Focus on the landscape, not the person. Think of the person as a co-star in the grand landscape production, not the lead role stealing the spotlight. Make the person blend seamlessly into the landscape, becoming part of the scenic ensemble rather than the show’s star.

Adding a person will give your audience a sneak peek at the scale of nature’s grandeur. So yes, throw in a person to sprinkle a dash of perspective magic and keep the landscape stealing the scene!

How can I get ready to take landscape photography? Where can I get ideas?

Dive into the enchanting world of landscape painting by exploring the works of the old master J.M.W Turner, affectionately known as just Turner. I find myself utterly captivated by this painter, whose influence echoes through the lenses of landscape photographers and the strokes of countless painters. Turner’s profound mastery of light, shapes, and patterns transcends artistic boundaries.

To truly appreciate his genius, stroll through museums or flip through art books, where his creations come to life. And for a cinematic journey into Turner’s universe, check out the movie “Mr. Turner.” Brace yourself; it’s a tad slow, but the entire film is a visual masterpiece crafted with the essence of light that Turner passionately sought. It’s a cinematic ode to the painter’s devotion to capturing the magic of light on canvas!

Study the old photography masters like Ansel Adams and the more contemporary professional photographer Clyde Butcher, who was influenced by Adam’s landscape photography. Clyde Butcher did beautiful landscape photos of the Everglades in Florida.

Michael Kenna is one of my very favorite photographers- he does stunning landscape photography. Look at his book Le Nôtre Gardens- I love it! Silent Beauty!

Research contemporary photographers in your country and see landscape images by landscape photographers from different cultures. Create your point of view and language by studying many other landscape pictures and photographers and by photographing often.

What is the most essential part of landscape photography?

Light!

The time of the day and the type of weather will dictate the quality of light in your landscape photography.

Early morning, sunrise to about one and a half hours after sunrise, you will get a golden hue- the same thing will happen at sundown. Photograph twenty minutes before sunrise and twenty minutes after sundown to get blue hues in the sky.

Cloudy day landscape, dirt path way and trees, silhouette of trees

Cloudy days make for mysterious landscape photos.

Cloudy days? They’re like nature’s filter, increasing the volume of colors and making those flowers pop like confetti cannons! Foggy days are the cool cats, adding an air of mystery to your shots. Post-rain scenes? Everything sparkles, and wet plants in a landscape photo? They don’t just pose; they shine!

Now, let’s pause the daytime disco briefly and avoid the night photography shenanigans. Trust me, the moon will join the party, casting enchanting shadows and turning everything into a mystery novel cover. So, in the grand dance of nighttime landscape photography, let there be light – and let it be dazzling!

How to find the perfect spot for landscape photography

Imagine gazing at stunning landscape photos and thinking, “How on earth do people capture such beauty?” It’s a common pondering! Those breathtaking shots appear to be the epitome of spontaneity, but let me spill the beans – there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes magic at play.

First up, the scouting adventures! It’s not just a casual stroll; it’s a mission. Imagine going on various walks and hikes, traversing terrains to uncover the crème de la crème of shooting landscapes. It’s like a treasure hunt, but you’re hunting for the perfect view instead of gold.

Now, the art of timing. Choosing when to hit that shutter button is like being a celestial choreographer. Remember: Light is everything! Should the sun take the stage in the afternoon or make a grand exit in the evening? Is it a play of clouds or a sun-soaked spectacle? Hold on, what about transforming it into a fabulous night landscape photograph? Decisions, decisions! It’s not just snapping a pic; it’s orchestrating a visual symphony. Plan!

pond with wild trees and plants around it

Monserrate, Portugal

The Perfect Spot

Discovering the perfect spot for your photography endeavors involves finding a location that shines under various lighting conditions. Imagine this spot as a versatile performer, rocking it in the late afternoon sun and still stealing the show during the moody vibes of an evening. The key is to create a good landscape shot that stands out, whether the sun is throwing a spotlight or the sky is wrapped in a cozy blanket of clouds.

The secret

Now, let’s talk about the secrets to success. Flexibility is the name of the game. Unfortunately, we can’t boss around the weather (if only!), so imagine you planned for a sunny day, and surprise, surprise – it turns cloudy. Don’t throw in the towel! Seize the moment and snap away. If Mother Nature tricks your plans, consider it an opportunity to create a unique and beautiful photograph. If need be, make a return trip on a sunnier day because that perfect landscape photo is worth the wait and the effort.

Why is landscape photography a good hobby?

You will be out in the fresh air and walking -while your mind will be busy searching for views. Engaging in landscape photography offers a means to connect with nature, familiarize yourself with the local surroundings, and unwind.

Whether capturing scenes in a park or a picturesque garden, seeking out botanical havens, or incorporating countryside strolls and hikes into your travel itinerary,

This not only cranks up the thrill of your travel adventures but also sprinkles a dash of fun into honing your photography skills!

Equipment for iPhone Landscape photos

Tripod, recharging battery, clean cloth to wipe the phone camera lens. The great thing about iPhone photography is that you don’t need much!

The iPhone camera

Remember that just because you are taking photos with a mobile camera doesn’t mean you aren’t going to take landscape photography seriously (and have fun while you do it)! The iPhone and other mobile cameras are fantastic, and you can get an excellent photo quality.

How do I take beautiful landscape photographs with the iPhone?

Capturing stunning landscapes with your iPhone is a breeze thanks to its fantastic image-making capabilities. The compact size, lightness, and portability make it an ideal companion for on-the-go photography. The quality of the photographs is excellent, and you can edit with your phone app or use something like Snapseed. You can photograph as quickly as you would with a point-and-shoot or use the techniques I will discuss below to create more sophisticated photographs.

The Tripod

Now, let’s talk about a game-changer: the tripod. Don’t underestimate its power! Beyond eliminating those pesky camera shakes, the real magic lies in slowing the pace. In a world where we’re accustomed to swift actions, the tripod becomes your trusty sidekick, nudging you to take your time and savor the photography process. No more quick grabs and pocket stashing – with the tripod, your relationship with your phone transforms into a thoughtful, unhurried affair. It’s time to let the tripod be your best friend in this photographic journey!

Get a light travel tripod or a tabletop tripod. I like the Manfrotto tripods, but I suggest that you go to a photo store or online and find a good one for you in terms of weight and price.

iPhone Camera timer

Use the camera timer! It will allow you to step back and study your landscape photograph. It creates a bit of emotional distance between you, the camera, and the landscape- plus, the timer will also slow your pace.

By now, you must have noticed that you must slow down and spend time looking to frame your landscape photograph.

How to Frame Your Landscape Photograph

landscape with a grid over to explain the rule of thirds

Find your grid on your camera app in the iPhone

The Camera grid and the Rule of Thirds

Use the Rule of Thirds to help you organize everything within your frame.  Look at your view and imagine lines to divide into three parts, or use your camera grid.

A simple view of the Rule of Thirds:

Sounds confusing? Let’s go step by step! Place the main subject or object in one-third of the image or two-thirds of the photograph.

Turn on the Grid on your iPhone: Go to the camera app settings. Scroll down and select Grid.

The Grid will help you use the Rule of Thirds because it will provide lines that divide the image into squares, and you will know where one-third of the image is. Here is a visual that will help you.

landscape showing the grid for rule of thirds and on the bottom third it reads: Main subject on 1/3 of image

The grid is a visual helper for the Rule of Thirds.

Use the grid to grasp the Rule of Thirds, guiding you to position the main subject within one-third of your frame.

You don’t have to be exact with the Rule of Thirds!

Don’t feel constrained by precision; the subject doesn’t need to occupy precisely one-third. Examine the photo below: Notice the sky occupies a small portion while the grass dominates over two-thirds. Breaking down the image this way adds drama and enhances visual appeal.

Layers of Interest

landscape with a fence, hardly any depth of field.

Add different things to your foreground, middle ground and background frame.

More on the Layers and Rule of Thirds: The image below shows how I perceived the landscape through my grid. Using the grid facilitated the creation of layers: the lighter grass occupies the lower one-third of the image, while the white plants, although nearly at the center, span two-thirds of the photo when sliced vertically. What makes this photograph intriguing is the slanting angle formed by the trees and the positioning of the sky within one-third of the image.

iPhone landscape showing the rule of thirds framing

iPhone landscape, the grid and the rule of thirds

This dynamic composition, with the tree tops and sky in one-third, the white plants on the left covering two-thirds, and the brighter grass on the right constituting one-third, adds complexity and interest compared to the photo above.

Utilize the grid as a helpful tool. Over time, as you become more experienced, you may find yourself less reliant on it. With increased familiarity, you’ll eventually start breaking conventional rules and forging your own path. However, the insights gained from using the grid initially will provide a solid foundation for your journey into landscape photography.

Dunes on the Holy Island in the UK

Dunes on the Lindisfarne, Holy Island, UK

Are you a rebel? If you don’t want to use the “Rule of Thirds,” place your main subject off-center to add interest to your landscape photography.

Landscape Photography and Symmetry

trail leading to boulders , misty, bright green moss on boulders , sintra Portugal

Centered images are also beautiful.

Symmetrical photos are like the rock stars of beauty, bringing a serene vibe to the visual party. Imagine everything’s in perfect balance, like the universe just hit the harmony button. If you’re all about that organized life, symmetrical pics are your secret weapon against chaos.

Channel your inner artist and toss that main subject smack dab in the middle. Surround it with equal bits of awesomeness on both sides. Voilà! You’ve just crafted a serene, centered, and oh-so-satisfying visual oasis. These pics aren’t just pretty; they’re practically meditation in pixel form. Embrace the symmetry, and let the beautiful vibes flow!

An old stone building with an opening showing and framing  a landscape

Frame your iPhone landscape photos!

Framing with a Frame

Look for ways to frame your views and make your landscape photography unique and oh-so-cool! You can use trees, bushes or rock formations as frames.

Focus

Always focus before shooting! Tap on your phone to focus.

Exposure Adjustments

Tap on your phone; you will see the focus square and a sun to the side of the square. Drag the sun up or down to make your image darker or lighter.

slanted photo with slanted horizon line shows the importance of a straight camera

No more slanted horizons when you use your camera grid!

The horizon line

Use the grid to help you shoot straight horizons!

Always keep the horizon line straight. The guidelines on the camera grid will help you! Slanted horizon lines are very confusing. They make you feel like you are falling off the earth!

iPhone camera height 

Use different camera heights so your images don’t look the same. Lowering your camera to your waist level gives you a wider angle. When you lower the camera’s height to the ground level and tilt it up slightly, you will get an exaggerated landscape view – things will look larger than they are, and it’s almost like using a wide-angle lens.

Vary your camera height for more drama. Lower your camera and shoot from the waist height or above your head.

It’s impressive to see how different a photograph will look when using different camera heights. When you lower the camera, you will have a wider angle, so test the camera height before you start your final shooting.

What is the best time of the day to do landscape photography?

Good lighting is the key to a good landscape photograph. 

Plan to shoot your landscape photos early in the morning and late in the afternoon if you want a golden glow and exciting shadows.

landscape showing two thirds of sky, one third of ground and the foreground shows horses, photo taken from a hill and view of ocean far away, bright blue sky

iPhone landscape using Rule of Thirds and beautiful natural light.

Landscape Photography and Natural Light

Sunrise and sunsets will give you silhouettes.

Early morning light and afternoon will give you exciting shadows and a golden glow.

Cloudy days are great for color but will not give you any shadows, so your landscapes will look flat. Cloudy days are great for flowers!

Midday sun will give you a harsh light and harsh shadow.

The early morning and late evening will give you some great colors because the sun is at an angle, constantly changing the color. The photograph below shows the sunlight coming through the trees and warming up the scene on the ground and horses.

Spontaneous landscape photographs 

What is a spontaneous photograph? It’s a quick photo that you take when you don’t have much time but want to remember that moment or place.  Spontaneous photos are the ones you take when you are on a hike, in a moving train or car, or on an urban walk.

How to get an Excellent Spontaneous Photo

The key to an excellent fast iPhone photo is to practice looking- it sounds easy, but not always. Be alert when moving; train your eye to catch exciting scenes.

Next time you walk or hike, practice looking and taking in all the visual information. Don’t photograph; practice looking for about thirty minutes and then start shooting. You will notice how that little exercise will help you see things differently.

Photography will keep you entertained for the rest of your life because you will always look for a great scene, a spot of glowing light, and beautiful colors. 

Rural landscape photograph in Porto Covo, Portugal (with a grid for the Rule of Thirds)

Review: Quick tips for landscape photography

1. Study the location.

2. Try out several camera heights.

3. Use the Grid guidelines for framing.

4. Add a good foreground and midground.

5. Tweak exposure on the phone.

6. Photograph in the early morning and afternoon for the best light.

7. use a tripod when the light is low.

How to Add Depth to your iPhone Photos

Layers of Interest will add depth to your photos.

When your landscape has several layers, it will be much more exciting! Remember the photo I added here at the beginning of the article? Look at it now with all the lines to show you the different layers of interest.

landscape photo with arrows and lines to show the different layers of interest in a photo

The front part of the scene is covered in light green grass, which stands out because of its distinct color and texture compared to the rest.

The attention-grabbers in the image are the bright white plants, drawing the eye with their vibrant presence. Additionally, the slanting trees add another layer of intrigue, forming a diagonal line in the upper portion of the photograph.

How do you add layers to your iPhone landscape photos? Look for views that have several things going on. See if some plants or trees make your eye travel like those slanting trees that make your eye travel from top to bottom. Look for exciting things in the foreground of your photograph. It can be a flower, a mushroom, or an interesting texture.

Alright, let’s unravel the mystery captured in the photo above!

First, we’ve got the foreground rocking a lively, delicate, bright green grass—bringing in a pop of color and texture that’s hard to ignore. Glide your gaze to the middle, where a serene dark water body takes center stage, giving your eyes a chill zone. And hey, there’s a touch of magic with the reflections dancing on the water’s surface.

Now, venture deeper, and you’ll catch those vibrant green bushes playing cool in the background. The trees? Oh, they’re on a slant, doing their hillside dance. Finally, the bright blue sky with a few clouds swoops in to sprinkle a dash of color over the darker side of the photo.

So, there you have it—a symphony of layers and colors, making that photo a visual feast!

Shapes and Patterns in Landscape Photography

sunset photo of autumn colors of vineyard

Serene landscape photograph of patterns

When you’re out there snapping your landscape photos, keep your eyes peeled for shapes and patterns—it’s like a visual treasure hunt!

Check out the photo below: a kaleidoscope of various patterns rocking sunset colors. It’s not just a picture; it’s a chill pill, a one-way ticket to serenity and peace.

How will your shapes and patterns show up in your landscape photography? Will you create dynamic or peaceful images?

close up of landscape with patterns

Close-up of iPhone landscape to create an abstract photo with patterns

Get close to the patterns and shapes; now you have a more abstract photograph! So many possibilities.

How to Edit Your iPhone Landscape Photos

Use Snapseed to edit your iPhone landscape photographs and other photographs! It’s free, it’s fantastic! There are many things to do, such as warm up your images, give them a vintage or a more dramatic look, and crop photos.

The new iPhones have fantastic photo editing tools.

With time, you will see that most of your landscape photos could be edited to make them more exciting.

Many people dislike editing their photographs because they find it tedious or too time-consuming. I do most of my editing on the train to school or in the doctor’s waiting room whenever I’m not doing much. 

Close-up of author smiling at camera

Marguerite Beaty, blogger, photographer + artist

Welcome to the sunny side of life for women over 50! We aim to create a space where women feel empowered, supported, and inspired to lead their best lives after 50.

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More iPhone photography tips

Simple photo tips for 50 and beyond

How to photograph a flower

Noir Forever Photo Challenge

Let’s Play with our Food!

Resources

Ansel Adams https://shop.anseladams.com/collections/original-photographs-by-ansel-adams

Michael Kenna

Eriin Babnik

Hiroshi Sugimoto Landscapes and site specific

Turner at the Tate https://www.tate.org.uk/search?q=Turner

Mr. Turner is a movie on several streaming channels.

This article was updated, and new information was added in 2023.

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