Tutorial: What makes a great photo

Different landscapes

Landscapes are by far the most popular subject entered to the You Connect Gallery.

Most photographers are more comfortable shooting landscapes than they are at taking good pictures of other subjects. Landscapes don’t move, they don’t talk back, and they don’t fly away just as you are about to press the shutter button. But that means that your landscape photo has to stand out from all the other landscape entries.

Composition is critical in any photograph, but especially so in a landscape. There are lots of tricks of the trade, but here are four ideas that will add impact to your images.

  • Include some foreground interest such as a tree, overhanging branch or person. Placing this subject off-centre in the image increases the impression of depth in the image.
  • Rotate your camera through 90 degrees, so that you are shooting with a vertical, portrait format, rather than the traditional, landscape shape. This will give you a different perspective on the scene in front of you.


Morning by the lake, You Connect member Yannick Rosaz, Canon EOS 500D
“This image includes principles that help the image stand out. The shape isn’t the conventional landscape style and the wooden dock is off centre, and the mist in the background takes your eye on a journey. Exposure is sharp and bright, and the sun flare is just enough to set off the blue sky, a picture to smile at.”

  • Use a slow shutter speed. You might think that not much moves in a landscape, but think again. Tree branches and long grass will sway in light breeze, while streams and waterfalls have flowing water. A shutter speed of about 1 second will blur all this movement in your landscape creating a dreamy appearance, whilst tree trunks, walls and buildings remain sharp. But make sure your camera is resting on a stable surface, ideally a tripod.
  • Look at the detail. The temptation with a landscape is to try and capture the whole view. However it is often a detail which sums up the scene and makes your photo special. 

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