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How To: A Guide To Outdoor Photography

03 October 2022

Spending time in the great outdoors is a great pursuit and many people who love taking photos also like to hike and spend time outside in the landscape. Whatever your reasons for being there photography is something many want to do. You may just wish to record your trip or your objective might be to get some great images to that would be worthy to hang on your walls. There are lots of things that can help you to achieve those goals.


You don’t need to carry around an arsenal of good camera gear to get good photos. You can get great images with a phone and if that is your camera of choice then composition becomes a key element. There are many things that can help you with composition. Though if you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera these tips can also help you to get the best shots.

Rule of thirds

The Rule of Thirds helps you decide where to place things in your image. If you divide it up into thirds (look at the example), then the horizon line should be on one of those third lines. For example, you could place it so the sky is only one third of the image, or so it is two thirds of it. Often where you place it will depend on which is more interesting, the sky or the landscape. This rule, or guide, helps balance the image.

It is the same with subjects in the scene. Try not to place everything in the middle of the image. It is something that many people do when they first start. Consider placing it to the left or to the right of the image. When you do this you are showing what else is in the image and giving it context.

These thirds are one of the compositional rules in photography. Though they are more guidelines and they don’t always apply, but it is good to follow them when you start. As you get more experienced you learn when you can break them.

The Big Landscape

Often when you see a big landscape in front of you it looks beautiful, but when you take a photo of it the image is boring. It is something that happens to many, so the trick is working out how to make it more interesting. There are lots of things you can do to make it more interesting, or find something that will help your image.

Look in the Foreground

Having something interesting in the foreground can make a big difference. It helps to pull in the viewer and get them to enjoy the landscape more.

There are no rules about what the foreground has to be. It could be a building of some sort, a plant or maybe a bush, anything that will invite your viewer into the photo. You can put it on one of the third lines and then leave the other side open for your background.

If you have a massive backdrop like mountains, then some flowers, or something similar, in the foreground can help add scale or interest for the beginning.

Leading the Viewer into the Image

There is nothing like a road to take you on a journey and in photographing it can take your viewer on the same trip.

It is not just roads that can do that, fences and rivers can also lead your audience straight into an image. They go from the edge and into the centre or side of the image. They give your viewer a reason to enter the image, or it can help them get there and stay.

Always try to look for something in your landscape that will serve as a leading line.

Time of Day

Photography can be a bit like hiking, if it is too hot to go out then it is too hot to take photos. The best times to go walking are first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Both of those times are also the best times for photography.

The hour before sunrise and after, same two hours around sunset are said to be the perfect times to take photos if you want to get beautiful photographs. One is the golden hour and the other the blue hour.

The golden hour will give everything in your image a warm glow. The blue hour is the time before the sun rises or after it sets. The sky is a good deep shade of blue before the night.

In winter you can often take photos all day long, but summer is different. The light can be harsh and the colours in the landscape can looked washed out. The sun can cast very harsh shadows and give your image too much contrast. Need to consider what the time is when you are taking your photos.


Following these tips will not automatically give you the most amazing images, practice and experience are also important, but they will help. Try one or more the next time you are outdoors and see what photographs you can get. Good luck!

Written By | Leanne Cole


Leanne Cole is a Melbourne based landscape and architectural photographer. She also writes about photography for Digital Photography School and in the new magazine Dynamic Range, which promotes women’s photography. You can find Leanne at or



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