So you want to shoot landscapes, right? The good news is there are so many different types of landscape photography that you can enjoy, that no matter what you enjoy or where you live…you can find something to shoot.
Here are 25 different genres of landscape photography that you can try out…
Shooting at golden hour is almost always ideal. But capturing the sunset or sunrise itself is both challenging and very rewarding if you can pull it off.
Timing plays a big part in getting a good sunset or sunrise photograph. Look for days when there are some clouds in the sky but not completely overcast. When there are clouds for the setting sun to reflect light off of, then the sky becomes much more colorful.
When the sun is in the frame of the image, it can be difficult to get the exposure right for the bright parts and the dark parts of the image. In this case, you may want to take multiple images at different exposures and blend them together later in Photoshop.
Long Exposure Photography
Long exposure photography might just be my favorite type of landscape photo to shoot.
You’ll need some specialized gear like a good tripod and some ND filters to ensure the slow shutter speeds. But when you can put all the elements of a good long exposure together, the results can be epic and attention grabbing.
Look for things with movement like running water, clouds, or ocean waves in order to show the movement in your images.
Light Trail Photography
Light trail photography is a specific type of long exposure when you are capturing the lights of cars (or perhaps other objects) as they travel past you.
The best time to shoot these types of shots is just after sunset during dusk. You’ll still be able to get the lights of the cars as they drive past, but there will still be just enough ambient light to let you get a good exposure on the rest of the scene.
A busy city is a great place to try this and many cities are bright enough from all the other lights that you can shoot light trails anytime between sunset and sunrise.
If you live out in a less populated area of the world, you may not have cities to photograph, but the dark skies are exactly what makes for great astrophotography.
Whether you just want to shoot the stars in the sky or invest in some extra gear like a star-tracker and try to capture the stunning detail and colors of the Milky Way Galaxy, astrophotography is another challenging but rewarding genre to try.
In addition to the majestic photos that you can create in mountainous regions of the world, hiking through these areas is simply amazing even without a camera.
Mountain photography is just as much about getting there and reaching those remote spots for the unique look or compelling composition.
A helpful tip for shooting mountains is to avoid using an extremely wide angle lens, they make a mountain in the distance appear smaller than it is. If you want that wide angle look for the foreground, then try focal length stacking (shooting the foreground wide and the background more zoomed in and then blend them together in Photoshop).
Having grown up just a short drive from New York City, I’ve always loved the beauty of cityscapes.
Whether it’s during the day, golden hour, or after the lights come on at night, the blending of a modern city and the nature of skies, clouds, or perhaps even a body of water is often a compelling image.
Architecture photography is a little different than cityscapes in that the focus of the image is the architecture itself, rather than the city.
When shooting this type of image, you should focus on the shape, design, and style of the building and attempt to showcase those things in a unique and compelling way.
Sometimes this means only framing a small portion of the building rather than the whole thing. A good way to approach it is to use your camera to “explore” the building from different places and perspectives.
A common difficulty you may encounter when shooting tall buildings from the ground is that the low perspective causes a distortion that makes them look like they are tilted towards you. Many photographers use specialized tilt-shift lenses to compensate for this. But you can also correct it in photo editing software if it’s not too severe.
Shooting seascapes is an interesting and unique type of landscape photography.
The movement of the ocean waves, the intricacies of rock formations, and the ability to capture clear views of sunsets or sunrises all make the beach a beautiful place to shoot.
But there are some things to watch out for as well. Changing tides and waves can be dangerous and those rock formations can be treacherous to walk on.
But if you take the right precautions, then the rewards are often spectacular.
Shooting in the forest can be a lot of fun but it can also be difficult to find a compelling composition with trees upon trees that all look the same.
Try narrowing down your focus and picking small scenes within the forest to feature.
One benefit of all those trees is that they allow you to explore the angles of the light coming in with your camera.
This kind of location is a great exercise in creativity and thinking beyond the traditional landscape shot, so everyone should give it a try.
Fall color photos are similar to shooting in a forest but the focus is on the vibrant colors that show up every Fall. This can be tricky to time as the best colors may only show up for a couple of weeks every year.
Unlike other landscape photography, you can shoot Fall colors in a wide range of lighting conditions from golden hour to overcast days and even during harsh midday sunlight.
Cloudscapes are fun because you’ll never shoot the same thing twice. Often you can use somewhat boring landscapes because the star of the show in your images is going to be the clouds.
These kinds of images are highly dependent on weather and light, which is constantly changing, so you almost need to become an amateur meteorologist.
Snowscapes are often very dramatic, especially during golden hour, but they can also be difficult to shoot.
When there is color in the sky, it gets reflected on the ground even more than normal because of the snow. You can use this to your advantage and create a scene that has a lot of color contrast between warm and cool tones.
The white snow makes it tricky to get a good exposure and auto modes are more useless than normal in a snow scene. Use manual mode and bracket your shots.
Does a panorama count as its own type of landscape photography?
Panos (multiple images stitched together later) can be shot in any setting or type of scene but there are two very common uses for them.
First, the most common, you can use a panorama to capture a very wide scene, such as a cityscape. This is useful when you want to capture the details of the scene, such as the buildings in a cityscape, but don’t want the empty space above or below them.
The second common use is when you want a scene with extreme detail so you use a longer focal length but shoot a multi-row panorama. You might end up with a scene that could have just been shot with a wider lens, but you’ll have a lot of detail and can zoom in considerably.
Time-lapse might be considered more video than photo, but in order to get the video, you have to take a whole bunch of still shots over time to show movement, so I’m calling it a type of landscape photography.
Time lapses can be one of the most dramatic things a photographer can create. They get even better as you learn to use camera movement to match the scene movement over time.
Star Trail Photography
Star trail photography consists of either one long exposure or multiple exposures combined to show the trail of movement by the stars over time.
Very few landscape photos are as dramatic as an impending thunderstorm on the horizon or even a tornado ripping across the plains. But photographing these things can be exceedingly difficult and often dangerous.
Good storm photography requires a solid understanding of weather and weather patterns so that you can predict where to be when the weather event happens. If you are new to this, I highly recommend learning from experienced storm chasers before venturing out on your own.
Light painting is a type of night landscape photography where you use a flashlight to “paint” light onto an object at night during a long exposure. This is often done in conjunction with a night sky image of the stars.
There are two primary ways to use this technique.
First, you can simply light paint onto an otherwise dark object to ensure that it is exposed properly in the image. Second, you can use light painting to make creative designs or patterns in the frame.
Less of a style of photography and more of a specific thing you are photographing, aurora borealis photography has become it’s own subgenre of photography.
The aurora borealis is a natural light display can is seen in high latitude portions of the world. Because it moves and is often faintly lit, you will often require a high ISO setting in order to capture it completely and without motion blur.
A difficult thing to capture, but the results can be spectacular when done well.
Digital Art Landscapes
I may get a lot of complaints for including this in the landscape category, but I think it belongs.
Digital artists can take a landscape and add elements to it that were there to create something beautiful. Sometimes it can be as simple as blending two images taken at different times of day and other times it can be the creation of an entirely different world.
Like it or not, digital art is here to stay and it often blurs the lines with landscape photography when landscapes are used as the baseline for the digital art.
Representational Landscape Photography
Since I included digital art, it’s only fair to include representational landscape photography.
This is photography that shows nature at its most natural and realistic. This often means the absence of any digital editing or manipulation done to the photo. The goal of these images is to have them be a realistic representation of the natural landscape.
Minimalist landscapes are more difficult to find than to shoot.
They can be very impactful though. We’ve all seen an image of a single object sticking out of a perfectly still lake or a single animal in an otherwise white snowy scene.
The purpose of this type of landscape photography is to create very simple images. The beauty of the shot is its simplicity here.
Abstract landscape photography can be a lot of fun and very interesting. It’s also a good approach to try when the weather isn’t cooperating for those traditional grand vista images.
Next time you’re out shooting, look around for small parts of nature that you can get close to and create a more abstract image. Things like leaves, for example, have such intricacies to them that make for a very interesting abstract image.
These next two are going to be a little similar, but I think it’s important to distinguish.
I would consider aerial photography to be when you are in the air yourself in a plane or helicopter, for example.
You can capture all sorts of things that you can’t from the ground. Whether you’re shooting a sunset, a cityscape, or anything in between…the change in perspective makes the photo unique.
There’s just something about being able to take photos from high up in the sky that gives it a unique and exhilarating feeling.
With the advances in drone photography in the last few years, aerial photography has become accessible to so many more people.
With a drone, you basically get all the same benefits of aerial photography without the cost or danger of a helicoptor ride!
Travel photography can incoroporate landscape as well as a number of other genres.
Traveling outside your normal places is a great way to reinvigorate your creativity and motivation to get out and create new photos.
Next time you feel stuck in a rut, invest in a photo adventure rather than some new gear.