If you’re not familiar with Our World is Beautiful, where in the world have you been? (Hopefully somewhere sunny and exotic where you’ve been busy taking lots of photos…)

Our annual photography competition is in full swing, with over 25,000 entries already received, and brilliant new pictures being shared every day.

The competition runs until the end of June, so you’ve still got plenty of time to enter. Over the coming months we’ll be looking at each of the six photo categories in more detail, with hints and tips to help you capture your own entry for each category.

We’ll also be taking a look at some of the previous entries we’ve received, and talking to their photographers to learn a thing or two about how they captured their images. Hopefully you’ll feel inspired to pick up your camera, head out into our beautiful world, and take your own winning shots!

Today we’re starting with the Landscapes category. From captivating coastlines and beautiful beaches, to rolling hills, snow-capped mountains and deep, dark forests, we’re truly spoilt when it comes to lovely landscapes – and that’s just here in the UK.

There’s a whole world of wonderful scenery out there just waiting to be photographed, and the best thing is that wherever you live or wherever you’re travelling, you’re sure to find a beautiful view to point your camera at.

How to take better landscape photos

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a high-end camera or lots of advanced kit. By following some basic rules of photography, training your eye and working on your composition, you can take better photos using any camera – even a smartphone!

Once you’ve found a picturesque spot to take a picture, there are one or two things you can keep in mind to help you get that perfect photo.

The rule of thirds

The rule of thirds forms the basis of a well balanced photo, and is key to successful landscape photography. It’s a simple rule, but one that can make a big difference to the quality of your pictures.

Imagine that your image is divided by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, creating a 3×3 grid. Position important elements near to these lines, or close to one of the four intersections of the grid.

If the horizon is present in your image, place it above or below the centre of the frame, along either of the horizontal lines. This looks much more natural than placing it in the centre of the shot.

For a quick guide to this technique, take a look at our blog post on the rule of thirds.

Loch Linnhe at Onich, twilight.

Loch Linnhe at Onich, Twilight – Christopher Gallagher

Framing

You can emphasise the subject or focal point of your photo by carefully framing the shot. Look out for natural frames in your photo – for example a tree branch or archway will emphasise your subject and add depth to the image.

Get a little closer to your subject or zoom in to crop out anything distracting in the background, and make sure your image has an interesting focal point. You can lead the viewer’s eye towards the focal point by using natural lines in your photo. For example, look for fences, paths and other lines to guide the eye towards the main focus of your image.

Autumn Frame

Autumn Frame – Ceri Jones

Perspective

Add interest and depth to your shots by including something in the foreground of your landscape photo. To find a more interesting viewpoint, change your perspective. Get low and shoot upwards, or climb up higher to shoot down onto your subject.

You could also try your hand at forced perspective. With the right positioning, you can give the impression that an object is larger, smaller, closer or further away than it actually is.

Beached

Beached – Alan Humphries

Shoot in RAW

Shooting in RAW gives you much more creative control when it comes to editing, which is particularly useful during landscape photography.

RAW is a file format that captures all image data recorded when you take a photo. When shooting in JPEG format, image information is compressed and lost. Because no information is compressed when shooting with RAW, you can produce higher quality images, and there’s more to work with if you take an image which needs some editing.

RAW format records many greater levels of light than JPEG, which means you can edit your image without affecting the quality. If you are shooting a sunrise or sunset with a lot of contrast between dark and light, you’ll have more freedom to make adjustments to your photo in post-production if the balance isn’t quite right.

“To my mind there are two things that make a great landscape photo: light and location.”

Stephan Gimpel was last year’s UK winner with his stunning photo of elephants in the Serengeti, and he’s continued to wow us in this competition too – picking up our November monthly prize with this beautiful shot of sunlight streaming into a sandstone slot canyon.

Illumination

Illumination

Over to Stephan for his landscape photography tips…

“Clearly you need to get the basics right with regards to composition and focus and so on, but in today’s world where millions of photos are taken and shared each day, I think what makes people look twice is a particularly interesting mood or atmosphere created by unique lighting.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

Ultimately the human eye is much better at resolving contrast than a camera will ever be and I think that’s an opportunity for a photographer to capture scenes that can surprise people.

Horseshoe Bend at Sunset

Horseshoe Bend at Sunset

The second point about location is probably quite obvious, but also implies that sometimes a bit of effort is needed to get a different shot. Whether that means being out in the rain or cold, getting up early to have a place to yourself, or playing with aerial photography (as I have done recently with some of these shots), you always need to try to get a different angle on things.”

The Chapel

The Chapel

“The more you practise the better you’ll get!”

Last year, Joyce James had two of her photos ranked very highly in the final competition results, and her entries this year have already caught our eye! Here she offers her three top tips for better landscape photography.

“Take it seriously. Get to grips with your camera and get off auto! My advice is to get yourself a tutor or mentor to teach you the basics. My tutor Alan Ranger is based in Coventry and offers a series of workshops and courses which I highly recommend.

Mist Over the Lake

Mist Over the Lake

Get out and about – the more you practise the better you’ll get! As my images demonstrate I find opportunities to shoot around sunrise and sunset – and enjoy driving around the country in search of good images – it’s great fun!

Keeping Watch

Keeping Watch

Don’t confuse snaps with images. My best images have always come as a result of taking my time, really looking and thinking about how I want to compose my shot – and using a tripod.”

Sunset Over the Sea

Sunset Over the Sea

Now you’ve picked up a few new tips and tricks, it’s time to get out there with your camera and take that special shot to enter into our competition. Then simply click on the link below to submit your entry. You’ll also find a gallery of recent entries there too, which could give you that extra bit of inspiration. Good luck, and happy snapping!