Photography Cheat Sheet: Mastering Composition for Landscapes

Before you set your exposure for a landscape photo, make sure your composition is on point. Use this photography cheat sheet as your guide to master working landscape scenes. 

Getting the exposure right is only half of the job when it comes to landscape photography; it’s just as important to have eye-catching composition. These two elements work together to make an outstanding landscape photo that goes beyond the snapshot. Today’s photography cheat sheet is a great resource both for those who are new to shooting landscapes and those who want to keep improving their composition.

Today’s photography cheat sheet from Digital Camera World is part of their helpful resource on mastering landscape photography. They wanted to put emphasis on framing a scene right before fussing with the exposure settings. Since the cheat sheet is in flow chart format, it will help you decide how to compose a scene even if you’re just starting out shooting landscapes.

First, the flowchart suggests shooting in aperture priority mode so you can shoot handheld with a wide aperture. The first major decision is whether you want to shoot wide or crop in on a specific area, which will let you either focus on a subject or object of interest, or go for a more abstract approach. This allows you to get as creative as possible with your photography instead of merely shooting snapshots. The flowchart also hints at using the Rule of Thirds to compose your shots. It’s a classic composition guide, and your camera most likely has an option for shooting with that grid. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, we have another cheat sheet that discusses it in detail. But, in a nutshell, place the horizon of the scene on one of the horizontal lines of the grid, or a subject on one of the intersections to create a balanced composition.

Another tried and tested composition technique is to use leading lines to direct your viewer’s eye to your subject or the horizon. It can be anything in your scene, so be creative! Lastly, if you want to go for an abstract approach, the cheat sheet recommends looking for repeating space, shapes, or patterns to serve as the subject of your shot.

Need more landscape photography tips and tricks? Do check out this photography cheat sheet from Canon and this comprehensive guide from SKCamera as well.