How many types of landscape photography do you know off the top of your head?
We’ve got 21 types of landscape photography in this article that you can pick from if you’re feeling stuck. They’re organised in themes to make it easier for you to navigate through them.
The first decision you’ll need to make is what subject you want to concentrate on.
There are lots of different subjects you could approach, below you’ll see a summary of these.
You could choose more than one subject and use a single photographic technique to portray it.
1 – Urban
This is an exciting area of photography for many photographers. Not least because it’s likely you already live in, or near a big urban centre.
The larger the city you’re photographing, the more interesting it will be. Bigger cities tend to have the type of architecture you’ll want to photograph.
Urban landscape photography can roughly be divided into three sub-categories.
- Cityscape – This type of photo aims to show a large part of the city. It needs to give a sense of scale to the place. You’re looking for a vantage point, and you’ll use a wide angle lens for this. Look for accessible tall buildings, or a hill overlooking the city for this.
- Urbex – This entails photographing abandoned buildings, or accessing underground tunnel systems. Urbex stands for urban exploration. Look to take gritty photos, in interesting locations. Urbex can be dangerous though, so make sure you stay safe.
- Architecture – Stunning architecture is a staple of urban photography. Look for new buildings, statues or bridges for this.
2 – Nature
At the other end of the scale to urban photography is nature photography. In this case the more remote you can go, the more stunning the landscape is likely to be.
You can always find amazing natural locations you can reach by driving your car. But chances are you’ll be taking a photo like those taken by many other people.
The true wilderness will reward you. Think deserts, mountain ranges or even volcanos.
3 – Sunsets or Sunrises
In the case of both nature and urban photography, sunset or sunrise are an ideal time for photos.
Many landscape photographers will only photograph during this time. Why is that? This time of the day gives you all those warm colours in the sky, something only seen for a short time during the day.
It’s also a time when the light is easier to control, it’s less bright and comes from a lower angle.
Not every sunset is the same though, and planning needs to go into getting the best results.
- Time of year – The position of the sun changes all year round. The farther away from the equator you are, the more dramatic this shift will be. You can plan for the sun to set in a specific location for more interesting photos by using a website like suncalc.
- Sunset or sunrise – Is your location a sunset or sunrise? If it’s a sunrise you’ll need to be prepared to wake up early in the morning. Check the sunrise time and be there an hour before that time.
- Check the weather – If it’s raining, you’re not going to see a sunset or sunrise. So check the weather forecast before heading out.
4 – Astrophotography
Camera equipment has improved a lot in recent years. Camera’s can now perform well even at higher ISO’s. This has meant photographing the stars is easier than before. Subjects like the Milky Way are becoming more and more popular.
The following are some typical subjects you can photograph in the night sky.
- Star trails – Use a program like StarStax, and create beautiful star trails across your photo.
- The Milky Way – You’ll need a wide-angle lens with a large aperture, and a camera capable of performing at high ISO. Milky Way photos can be magical, it’s an amazing genre.
- The Moon – This requires a lens with a long focal length. You can still get good results with a regular zoom of 300mm. You will have to crop the image in post processing to zoom further in on the moon. Look for events like eclipses for even more dramatic results.
- The Aurora – Visiting somewhere like Iceland is like going to Mecca for a photographer. One of the main reasons for this is the chance to photograph the Aurora. You can photograph this anywhere as long as you’re close enough to the north or south pole.
5 – The Seasons
The changing seasons can make for a dramatic photos. Capturing the seasons can mean visiting the same location many times. You can photograph the same composition during winter, spring, summer and autumn. This photo series is classic and timeless.
There will be some locations which work very well for a particular season. But they might be less dramatic at other times of the year. Use these location scouting techniques to figure out the best spot.
Types of Landscape Photography Techniques
The type of landscape photography technique you use can also lead to you have a particular style.
The following are some of the most popular landscape photography techniques out there. Read on and see if one of these fits your style.
6 – Light Painting
Light painting is one of the most creative techniques out there. There is an immense amount of potential that comes with it. In fact you’re making your own image here, so you can make compelling images from any location.
The genre has many tools you can use. Keep in mind you’ll need to find a location that’s dark, and you’ll need a tripod.
- Wire wool – Place some fine grade wire wool into a metal whisk, set it on fire and spin. You’ll get dramatic results, but be careful of the fire risk.
- LED light stick – Two light sticks have transformed light painting in recent years. The Magi light, and the pixel stick are very creative tools.
- Light orbs – Place a light source on the end of a string and spin it to create light orbs.
7 – Infrared
This technique is a great way of transforming your scene into a dreamscape. You’ll need the conditions to make a success of this technique. Look for a sunny day with a few clouds. At the very least you need sunshine. IR photography works best when leaves are photosynthesising.
When vegetation photosynthesises the light it emits is infra-red light. This is what you’ll use for this type of landscape photography.
You can manipulate the white balance in camera, or post-process later. IR photography will make any green vegetation appear white.
There are two main approaches to this form of photography.
- Filter – Attach this to the front of your camera to filter all light out, except infra-red light. You’ll likely need to use long exposure when using a filter.
- Adapted camera – You can get your camera body adapted so that it photographs in infrared light. It now performs like a regular camera, only the images will all be infra-red.
8 – Lensball photography
A popular form of photography in recent years involves the use of a lensball. This is a glass ball that works as an external lens optic, this can be handheld or put on the ground.
You can capture a fisheye-like image within the ball and blur out the background behind the ball.
You’ll have to overcome the challenge of the image within the ball being upside down. This is all part of the fun when using one of these spheres.
9 – Long Exposure
Another favourite of landscape photographers is long exposure. Use this to transform the moving elements within your frame.
You’ll need a tripod to carry out photographs of this type, and a strong neutral density filter.
Use an ND1000 filter if your wish to take long exposure photos during the middle of the day.
The following are popular subjects for long exposure photography.
- Water – Long exposure can flatten the sea, or make white water at a waterfall appear like silk.
- Clouds – On days that clouds move across the sky a long exposure can capture this motion.
- Light trails – Car light trails are the most popular here, but you can use boats too.
10 – Silhouettes
A great landscape composition is layering silhouetted mountains against one another. Another great option is to silhouette a person or object against a sunset sky.
Different Landscape Compositions
Composition is a key element of a photo. There are several different options available here to photographers.
You can even choose one and make it your signature style.
11 – Worm’s Eye
This describes a composition where you are looking straight up, from ground level.
This works best when you’re surrounded by tall objects. Make sure those objects are close into the camera. Think of tall buildings in a city, or trees in a forest.