If you’re looking to improve your landscape or nature photography, there are a number of different approaches you can take. This article will cover several different (and practical) ways that you can challenge yourself.
1. Go Back to the Same Locations
Landscape photographers are always looking for new locations to photograph. Visiting and experiencing new places can be a lot of fun, but your best photos are often taken at the places that are most familiar to you. There is a lot that can be learned by visiting and photographing the same spots multiple times.
Rather than looking for new locations, try heading back to some of the spots you’ve already photographed, and challenge yourself to come away with better photos. Maybe you’ve learned about the best spot or best vantage point to capture the sunrise or sunset. Or maybe you know about a hidden or secret spot that most people miss. The more familiar you become with a location, the better your photos will get.
This can also be a helpful exercise because it enforces the idea that you don’t need to visit epic locations in order to take great landscape photos.
→ Related reading: 8 Reasons to Re-Visit the Same Locations
2. Dedicate More Time to Planning and Scouting
If you want to see the quality of your landscape and nature photos improve, one of the best things you can do is increase the effort and time that you put into researching, planning, and scouting. A big part of getting a great shot comes down to being in the right place at the right some. Sometimes that involves luck, but if you don’t want to rely on luck, plan your outings to give yourself that best chance at success.
A lot of your research and planning can be done online with helpful resources like our location guides that provide plenty of information to get you started on your planning. Once you know where you’re going, you can use apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris to track the position of the sun and moon. Scouting on-site can also help you to find the best spots and compositions.
→ Related reading: 7 Sites and Apps for Researching and Scouting Photography Locations
3. Limit Yourself to One Lens
Sometimes restricting yourself can force you to be more creative. Instead of changing lenses or carrying several different lenses in your bag/backpack, trying limiting yourself to just one lens for an outing. It could be a wide-angle, standard, telephoto, or fisheye, it doesn’t really matter. The exercise will force you to evaluate the scene as it would be photographed with the particular lens that you’re using.
4. Go for a Photo Walk
This one is especially effective if you’re in a city and photographing urban landscapes. Head out for a photo walk and simply photograph whatever you come across that seems interesting. This one kind of goes against the earlier point about planning and research, but sometimes it helps to change things up a bit. You can also combine your photo walk with the previous point about limiting yourself to one lens.
5. Force Yourself to Slow Down
I don’t know about you, but one of the problems that I face is a tendency to try to move too quickly. I’m always in a rush to photograph whatever subject I’m working on so I can move on and get to the next spot. I have to force myself to slow down and take my time.
When you’re rushed, you’ll miss some of the best angles and compositions that you would only find by walking around the scene for a while. You’ll also come home and find that your exposure was off or that your photos are a little blurry. And maybe most important, you don’t take the time to relax and enjoy the natural beauty that is surrounding you.
Two of the most effective ways I’ve found to force myself to slow down are:
- Use a tripod. It forces you to set up each shot and carefully evaluate the composition rather than quickly snapping away.
- Plan extra time into your schedule. Don’t try to cover too much ground in one day by packing your schedule too full.
6. Share Your Photos Online
There are plenty of different ways you can share your photos online. You can share them through your personal Facebook and Instagram profiles, create separate business profiles for your photography, start a photo blog, or create an account at a site like Behance or 500px.
Sharing your photos give you the chance to get feedback that may help you to improve. You can even submit your photos to forum threads that are dedicated to photo critiques, where you’ll be sure to get constructive criticism.
Not only will the feedback help you to improve, but simply knowing that you are going to share your photos publically can motivate and inspire you to create your best work. Every photographer, amateur or professional, would love to get positive responses from their work, so it’s just natural that you’ll want to do your best if others are going to see it.
7. Enter a Photo Contest
Sometimes competition drives us to improve and do our best. Participating in photo competitions can be a fun way to push yourself. You may even get some exposure from the contest or win some valuable prizes. But even if you don’t win, simply participating in the contest can be just the challenge that you need.
There are all kinds of different photography contests and competitions, and plenty of them are geared towards landscape, nature, and travel photography. There may be a contest in your local area that you’re aware of, or you could check sites like:
If you’re looking for fun ways to improve your own photography, try one of the ideas presented in this article and I think you’ll find it to be a positive experience.
Photo license links: Unsplash