How to Make Your Landscape Images Stand Out

Chris Gampat Shooting Landscapes (1 of 10)

Making your landscape images stand out from the pack isn’t exactly simple to do. In fact, landscape photography can either be the simplest or one of the most complicated forms of photography depending on how you approach it. It involves careful composition, lots of painstaking time, exploration, and commitment to getting the right image.

More than anything else though, landscape photography requires discipline. As a photo editor who views hundreds of images a day and goes through loads and loads of portfolio submissions, I can tell you what happens is that you often end up seeing more and more of the same thing.

Don’t Give us an HDR Unless You’re Actually Good at It

Graduated ND Filter

For the love of all that is holy, please stop with the HDR images. They are way overdone in many cases, not done correctly nor true to what the form dictates. In many cases, landscape shooters believe that they can get the image that they need and want by shooting loads and loads of photos. Instead, try doing what many photographers have been doing for years: using a graduated ND filter. Then in a single photo, give us your best shot. Work on the rest in the post-production phase.

Try Portrait Orientation

Landscape photography often involves you shooting in, well, landscape orientation. But something that I rarely or ever see is a landscape image in portrait orientation. Rather than seeing an extremely vast scene, it would be incredibly interesting to see a scene that I’d need to look up and down. The human eye works in a much different way when looking something up and down and it would be a big departure from the standard landscape orientation that we’re so used to seeing.

In fact, this method more than any others would interest me personally the most.

Selectively Saturation Certain Color Channels

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Tokina 70-200mm f4 Pro first impressions samples (6 of 8)ISO 1001-1000 sec at f - 4.0

Working in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop can help you a great deal when processing your images. You’ll have loads and loads of work room in the contrast, exposure, colors, etc. We recommend that you work specifically with the individual color channels, and not all of them overall.

Got a lot of green in your scene? You can make it stand out more with selective saturation of only the green channel or by tweaking its luminance.

Playing with Contrast

While an HDR requires very low contrast overall in the final result, cameras cannot see the dynamic range that the human eye can and therefore have more contrast. Think about this: maybe we don’t need to see everything in the scene. Is there a beautiful sky? Cool, leave it in there. But maybe we don’t need to see some other crazy details when viewing the image as a whole. High Contrast landscape images can put more emphasis on a certain part of the landscape while everything else is just a play on negative and positive space.

Show Us a Sense of Scale

One of the things that landscape photography does is shows us an image–but not enough work is often done to put the viewer in the exact scene that the artist is in. In many cases, the sheer vastness of the space captivated the artist–but isn’t always translated in the image. The simplest way to translate that is to show us a sense of scale. Play with rocks, sticks, trees, etc to show us just how vast the landscape is.