5 Tips for Wow-Worthy Landscape Photos

Before your next big trip, learn these simple landscape photography tricks to take photos so beautiful you'll want to enlarge, print and frame them.

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski, America Y'all

Equipment: Bigger Isn't Always Better

When I first became interested in photography, I assumed that I would need one of those big expensive cameras that you often see people shooting with, but this is not the case. Especially if you are posting your photos online and not printing, there is no need to lug around a heavy and costly professional camera. I shoot with a small mirrorless camera and chances are, most of the pictures you see out in the internet today are taken by an iPhone. In the right light, you'd be hard pressed to spot the difference between the two. Take this pic from Big Bend National Park, for example.

Time: Shoot for the Golden Hour

The best time to take pictures outside is roughly an hour after sunrise and an hour before sunset, referred to as the "Golden Hour." During this time, the light will produce warmer tones and your photographs won't be plagued with over-exposed areas and harsh shadows that can happen when shooting midday. The previous photo from Big Bend and this shot from Bryce Canyon National Park both illustrate the look achieved during the Golden Hour.

Focus: Add Depth With Something in the Foreground

A good way to add some depth to a landscape photograph is to have something in focus and something out of focus, which will give the viewer a sense of just where you are in the scene when you took the photograph. Try focusing on a person or feature that is close to you while having the actual landscape slightly out of focus in the background.

Subject: Bring a Friend

My favorite way to photograph a landscape is to include a friend in the picture. Adding a person is the easiest way to convey just how big the scene really is. In addition, looking at a picture with a friend in it is much more fulfilling in the long run!

Subject: Bring a Friend

This photo is another example. While the huge Lone Rock in Lake Powell, Utah, is the primary subject, spotting my friend swimming at the base adds both a sense of scale and a sense of adventure.

Editing: You Have the Tools

These days every smart phone is capable of being a powerful photo editing tool as well. With a few simple apps, you can create pictures that really pop. Two of the most popular apps are Afterlight and Vsco Cam, both of which allow for adjustments of things such as saturation and brightness; they also come preloaded with a handful of filters. I tend to stay away from the filters available through Instagram as other apps allow for much more control. Editing also means taking the time to straighten horizon lines, as this shot from Destin, Florida, shows; it's a simple step that will make a picture much more pleasing in the end.

Picture-Perfect

All that being said, taking pictures on your trips should be about capturing the moment for yourself. So if push comes to shove, forget all the things I mentioned above and snap away — you'll be a lot happier when looking back even if what you shot isn't "picture perfect."