4 Tips to Capture Scenic Photos

A person standing on top of a mountain

Capturing scenic photos has been a hobby of mine since I was a child. The scenic beauty captured in these photos is often found during the summer months when it’s warm and sunny outside, but sometimes you can find scenic beauty even in the winter!

Here are four tips to capture scenic photos:

1) Find peace and quiet

A person wearing a hat

The scenic photos you see in magazines and on TV are not just luck. They’re the result of a photographer who knows how to find peace and quiet, which is the key ingredient for scenic shots. You can’t take scenic photos if there’s too much going on around you. When you’re shooting scenic photos, it helps to have a camera that lets you shoot with a high ISO setting so that your images will be brighter even if there’s less light available.

You also want as little clutter as possible in your photo so look for scenes without any people or cars nearby, especially when shooting from an elevated position such as from atop a mountain or from up in a tree stand at deer hunting season. Finally, don’t forget about composition: scenic photos generally fall into the rule of thirds category where the main focus of your scenic photo lies one-third of the way up or down the photo rather than smack in the middle.

2) Use natural light

A person wearing a hat

It’s not always easy to get scenic photos, but it is easier when you know how.  The key is to use natural light whenever possible. Natural light will make your picture feel more authentic and less staged, taking away the feeling of trying too hard. It’s also softer than artificial lighting which can give pictures a harsh or flat look that may be ok for some types of photography but not scenic shots. Artificial lights are great for close up shots because they provide very precise control over the direction in which the light falls on what you’re shooting, but if you want to capture scenic beauty with an epic background then having soft natural light is crucial. The best time to shoot scenic photos is when there’s good directional sunlight so that shadows are minimized and there’s a natural depth to the image.

3) Look for shadows

One of the most common mistakes scenic photographers make is forgetting to look for shadows. Shadows can add a sense of depth and drama, while also highlighting important foreground elements in your photo. It’s often overlooked because it’s so easy to spot them on the ground or because they are hidden by dense foliage, but nothing will improve your landscapes like this simple technique.

  • Look for shadows without too much light directly behind you (you may need to use a reflector)  
  • Look down at an angle through trees or branches for interesting patterns on the ground below 
  • Turn lamps off when shooting indoors and let natural light do all the work instead

4) Use the rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds is one of the most popular composition guidelines scenic photographers use. It states that images should be composed by imagining two equally spaced vertical and horizontal lines, dividing your image into 3 columns or rows. Important compositional elements are then placed on these imaginary lines or at their intersections. When using the Rule of Thirds, scenic photographers typically place their horizon line along one of these lines or their intersections. This creates an image that is more appealing to the eye and leaves room for important foreground elements.

  • To enhance your landscape’s depth, try placing a closer object or person in the left third of your photo 
  • The difference of light and shadows between the sky and landscape can give dynamism to your scenic photo 
  • When photographing scenic vistas, try zooming in on one section or element that you find most interesting.
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