Think Creatively to capture unique Landscape Photos

These two shots offer an example of what can be accomplished with a simple change in perspective. The first shot above (Light Falls) was taken in Zion National Park in 2005. The image highlights the beauty of the waterfall and provides a portrait of the park as well, showcasing the beautiful sandstone walls and lovely autumn foliage.

  • Back lit landscape photo from Zion National Park, UT

    Light Falls @ Zion National Park, UT

  • Typical uninteresting wide angle landscape photo Zion National Park, UT

    Zion National Park, UT

Take a look at the second image. It’s not unusual to find a scene like this in nature. As pretty as the location is, the shot doesn’t do it justice. When I arrived at the first of the Emerald Pools, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. The fall colors were at their peak and the colors of the canyon walls were enriched by recent showers. The falls were flowing beautifully as well… so I grabbed my camera and took a wide-angle shot.

Although the scene is beautiful, the waterfall is nearly lost in the image and there is no clear point of focus. I intended for the waterfall to be the main point of interest; but it ended up lost as a small sliver of silver surrounded by busy foliage and sandstone. So, how do you fix a shot like this?

Rather than give up and return with a less-than-spectacular shot, I decided to change my perspective. Walking around to the opposite side of the falls, I noticed that the falling water was backlit with soft residual light from the overcast sky. This made it stand out against the darker, water-soaked walls of the canyon. In order to focus the attention of the viewer on the waterfall, I used a longer focal length (50mm lens on 1.6 crop factor camera). This allows the waterfall to fill up the frame. I also decided to include the tree and striped walls of the canyon to provide a sense of time and place.

Here are few tips to help you capture images with a different perspective:

  • Create a dreamy effect using shallow DOF: Here is a photo from Oregon which was shot with a wide-angle lens and a shallow DOF to create the desired effect.
    • Shallow DOF landscape photo from Skogafoss, Iceland

      Skogafoss, Iceland

    • Shallow DOF Landscape Photo from Tom McCall Nature Preserve, Oregon

      Shallow DOF Landscape Photo from Tom McCall Nature Preserve, Oregon

  • Photograph the object from the air: These day you can rent a drone or charter a helicopter to take photos. Here is a recent shot from Fiji that was taken from a helicopter. As you can see, we had a stunning birds-eye view of Varina photographing on a small sand bar take from a helicopter.

    Aerial Landscape Photo with Varina on Sandbar, Fiji

    Aerial Landscape Photo with Varina on Sandbar, Fiji

  • Take photos of objects under water: You don’t need expensive gear to make this happen. Just grab your camera and wander around the tide pools on a beach to find interesting things to capture. I captured this sea anemone in Australia just few hundred feet from the parking lot.

    Underwater Macro Photo from Birubi Beach, Anna Bay, NSW, Australia

    Birubi Beach, Anna Bay, NSW, Australia

  • Get down low to the ground: I took this shot of a crab while lying on the ground. This helped me eliminate distractions and allowed the crabs to come out of their hiding place.

    Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

    Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

So… the next time you are stumped for an interesting composition, think about changing your perspective and you just may come up with something interesting.

Check out the following tutorials on Visual Wilderness:

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams