16 Sorts of Landscape Images

16 Sorts of Landscape Images

Though I have significantly practiced the art of landscape images for a lot more than two a long time, I’ve never ever questioned the definition of the expression. It is reasonably noticeable, isn’t it? If I am getting most of my shots outdoors – in the landscape – then I will have to be a landscape photographer.

But is this always the scenario?

In this report, I will delve deeper into what landscape photography can be regarded to be – and, probably more importantly, what it should not be.

Wikipedia defines the genre as photography that “shows the spaces in the earth, occasionally large and never-ending, but other times microscopic. Landscape photographers usually seize the existence of mother nature, but can also focus on gentleman-made attributes or disturbances of landscapes.”

This doesn’t seem like a extremely definitive definition to me, however: it could in some cases be this, but at other periods it may well also be that? For me, there are also lots of variables in such a definition, and this is what I’d like to examine in this short article.

Pure Landscapes

Some photos leave us in no question. All photos of grand all-natural vistas undisturbed by any signals of human existence are indisputably ‘landscape images.’ When these scenes are bathed in the ideal light, they typically evoke sturdy psychological responses. Largely they make us want we ended up there to encounter the splendor for ourselves: in my possess lifestyle, they undoubtedly have encouraged me to travel to sites I may normally never ever have frequented.

This is why this kind of pictures attraction to the vacation marketplace. They encourage us to examine and to expertise and seize our individual wonderful moments. It is also why so several landscape photographers who contemplate themselves purists want to photograph only pristine landscapes, devoid of all human affect.

I comply with the work of a lot of extremely proficient photographers of all genres, mainly simply because their pics encourage me to see their planet via their eyes. Numerous of them could be called purists, but most are well prepared to make exceptions to the no-human-affect rule. Some consider photos only at the coast, when many others appreciate checking out the mountains.

Using a temporary search at some of the other suitable (and not-so appropriate) sub-genres of landscape photography, it is fascinating to request how numerous sub-genres actually exist, and also when can a non-purist landscape picture no for a longer time be termed a landscape photograph?

Landscapes with Individuals

There are typically incredibly superior reasons for together with people today in a landscape photograph. Since we all know the dimensions of the average particular person, which includes people in our photos typically assists us to consider the relative size of the other characteristics in the landscape, therefore incorporating a perception of depth and scale to the scene.

Whenever we see human figures in landscape images, we can also picture ourselves to be one of these people, experiencing all that magnificence ourselves.

But this is also the place things start off to get a little bit murky. Our brains are instinctively hardwired to figure out the human condition (specifically the experience) amongst all the other visible litter that constantly surrounds us. Anytime we see individuals in a landscape photo, we simply cannot aid concentrating on them. This means that any visible individuals will commonly conclusion up as the most important topics in our photos – no issue how modest they are in the scene.

It’s not only a dilemma of how significant the people today are in our images: it is also about the style of landscape they’re in, and how much of our visible interest is diverted away from the landscape and towards the people. If the lone seaside walker in the photograph earlier mentioned was changed by a recently-wed couple, could this still be deemed a landscape photo? Or would it then instantly be categorised as a wedding ceremony photograph? This will usually be debatable.

Landscapes with Animals

And what if we determine to include animals in our landscape pictures?

We can use our common expertise about the measurement of highlighted animals to identify the scale of the landscape, but if those people animals turn into as well visually prominent in our compositions, we may well somewhat be referred to as a wildlife photographer.

In the image of the penguins and the landscape down below, was I deliberately trying to seize a biologically-detailed picture of the birds, or was my intention to depict them in their organic landscape or surroundings?

You be the judge.

By the way – sharing this beach with these penguins at dawn that morning was a person of the highlights of my everyday living. I went intentionally to photograph the penguins – and they may well be tiny in the frame, but they do capture all of our visual notice.

This is the major reason why the variance in between wildlife and landscape photography is a person of the most contested debates in our field.

Who would argue that a image of a grand mountain landscape scene which include an eagle in flight was a wildlife photograph, or that a picture of a lion, an elephant, or a giraffe in the African bush could be everything but wildlife images?

So when (to some purists) such as people or animals in your landscapes must right away disqualify you from the landscape photography club – get cozy with becoming excluded, since there’s nothing halting you from such as both individuals and animals in the exact picture.

City Landscapes

Even when we really don’t contain any folks or animals in our landscape photos, the issue will become far more fraught when the signals of human affect maximize.

Is the urban panorama under a landscape picture?

It is if you are an urban landscape photographer – a further sub-style of landscape images, in which the photographer deliberately contains 1 or additional human influences in their landscapes, usually to explain to specific stories.

But there are limits right here, much too. The tale demands to be about how the structures change or enrich the landscape. When you give also much prominence to an personal developing or framework, the graphic will come closer to currently being classed as an architectural photograph.

As normally, even in the city landscape pictures sub-style, a number of sub-sub-genres surface. Numerous urban landscape photographers are now specializing in roof-topping (pics from the best of skyscrapers) or discovering abandoned properties, to title but two. All of their pictures could also be deemed to be legit landscape photos – but this relies upon on the subjective impression of the observer.


Since most persons around the globe are living close to the coast, it makes sense that numerous landscape photographers would expend much of their creative time seeking for compositions along the seashores and amongst the rocks.

This is seascape photography – where the form, texture, and colour of the waves and the ocean come to be the most important concentration of our photographs. Other features of the scene – rocks, mountains, and so on. – will surely add to the visual impression of our compositions, but seascape photography will constantly be about the ocean and its moods, and about capturing them in the greatest doable way.

Most persons would right away recognize Table Mountain in the impression above, and numerous would be forgiven for imagining that it was the primary issue in this composition. The major topic right here is clearly the motion of the ocean, even though: the mountain and the pink sky are wonderful additions – but for me, this photograph was all about capturing the water in the most appealing way doable.


The bigger we climb in the mountains, the clearer the air becomes. Substantial-altitude landscapes are frequently fully devoid of human influence, so a lot of of these shots would also comfortably fit into the (highly prestigious) classification of ‘purist landscapes.’

Mountain photographers strive to go the place no one has at any time been ahead of, to seize exclusive photographs of things that no one has ever noticed just before.


But what if we really do not are living any where in close proximity to the coast or mountains? Really passionate landscape photographers are not at any time discouraged by a deficiency of one thing. Rather they explore what they do have, and then they attempt to seize the most effective possible compositions of these certain geographic options.

Deserts and dunes might search bleak and featureless or even boring to some men and women, but they do provide an unlimited selection of photographic prospects for purist landscape photographers.

We should hardly ever overlook that just about every person who sights our landscapes pictures will have their personal interpretation of that scene. For instance, a gorgeous sunset photograph of a wave breaking above the rocks (a seascape) may possibly have a much more robust psychological effect on anyone who has under no circumstances found the ocean in advance of, than on an individual residing on the coastline.


Anything at all can glimpse awesome with just the correct gentle. Just one of the most generally-requested thoughts amongst the landscape pictures community is: “If you had to pick out amongst capturing an astounding subject matter in dull light, or a dull topic in wonderful light, which would it be?”

I have constantly selected the latter, normally believing that just about anything can seem astounding with a strong composition and the proper light. There’s no denying that delicate, heat, golden-hour light will constantly strengthen the look of geographical or other attributes. Also, no photo would be possible without mild, so it follows that the quality of the gentle need to be the most essential ingredient of our landscape photographs. Nicely, indeed and no.

Just about every good image consists of 3 most important elements an fascinating subject, a well balanced composition, and very good gentle. If you can capture all three of all those in a single photograph, you commonly have a winner.

But good gentle doesn’t essentially signify golden gentle (this was 1 lesson that took me many a long time to study). The gentle must only ever emphasize the most important elements of our landscapes, and should really ideally under no circumstances develop into the major subject of our images. The mild at sunrise and sunset typically does make items glance far better than the gentle at midday, but in some sub-genres of landscape photography, the light may perhaps be ideal at other occasions – and certainly, occasionally even at noon.

I consider that it is usually significantly extra significant to inform plausible tales with our landscape pictures than it is to chase after stunning light-weight. We have all found astounding sunrises and sunsets, and as landscape photographers, we’re inevitably drawn to capturing them. But it doesn’t make any difference how technically excellent a photo of a dawn or sunset could possibly be, until the impression tells a tale, it will just be but a further image of a sunrise or a sunset.

Be aware my words and phrases in the preceding paragraph: “we’ve all witnessed incredible sunrises and sunsets”. Even though it does make a great deal of feeling to wait for the greatest mild, it does not make any feeling to disregard the landscape and its tale although earning the sunlight and mild the primary topics of our photos. Why not? Very well, mostly for the reason that we all expertise a single sunrise and 1 sunset each one day of our lives, and whilst some of them might be more gorgeous than other individuals, devoid of any interesting landscape options, those photographs are generally boring.


Forests and woodlands supply landscape photographers a bottomless bucket of photographic chances, but they also give us a number of really serious challenges. Besides some of the extra clear specialized constraints – like capturing all the information in both of those the highlights and shadows – a person of the most significant challenges is acquiring a thing which is far more fascinating than almost everything else, and then composing that thing in the most exciting doable way, with no any clear visible distractions.

It was in the Knysna forest that I learned some difficult truths about landscape images. Whilst the high quality of the gentle will often be one particular of the critical factors in every single photograph, forest photography is primarily about subject and composition, with the gentle only taking part in a minor section. We may be fortunate sufficient to come across some misty problems, but the light in the forest is normally only either on or off. It’s in no way orange or pink.


The Snowscape is an additional sub-genre of landscape photography where by light-weight doesn’t essentially engage in a main purpose. In this article it’s generally the bleakest and gloomiest mild that’s ideal capable to express the stark and featureless mood of a severe, sub-zero landscape.

If you live in the excessive northern or southern latitudes where snow and ice are common, then be sure to do continue using photographs like the one particular earlier mentioned. Even devoid of a single hint of orange or pink, pictures like these will generally inspire individuals like me to explore elements of the earth that we could possibly in any other case by no means see. (This photograph was shot on one of the Lofoten Islands in Norway. I grew up in balmy South Africa, so I can honestly say that irrespective of the lots of thermal layers I wore on that day, I have hardly ever been so cold. But I was there to capture snow scenes accurately like this a person, so that was what I did. No discomfort, no get.)


If you are living everywhere around the coastline, you’re heading to encounter a several storms in your lifetime – whilst they are not limited to the coastline. Violent thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornados, and so on., come about frequently in quite a few components of the planet. As the skies convert darkly ominous, so the air gets to be electric powered.

Some landscape photographers invest most of their time researching weather designs and chasing following storms. But even though storms often come about outdoor above the landscape, storm pictures is commonly only about the sky, frequently with the landscape barely obvious in the excessive reduced portion of the picture. Our landscape photographs must often 1st inform stories about exciting landscapes, and only then about the mild and/or the weather.

If you shot an wonderful thunderstorm and bought some wonderful sharp shots of lightning strikes but excluded any of the landscape, should these also qualify as landscape pictures?

When the key subject matter of our images is only ever the temperature, then we’re no for a longer time landscape photographers. As an alternative, we have develop into weather photographers.


But why restrict our landscape images to earthly functions? The landscape doesn’t abruptly end where the sky begins – which is why it’s unattainable to normally exclude the climate from our landscape pictures.

I undoubtedly never have all the responses, but I have come to the summary that it all boils down to our major subjects: what are we photographing, and what information are we trying to convey via every single image?

If the main subjects of our shots are not existing characteristics (pure or manmade) of the earthly landscape, then I do not truly feel that those photographs really should be classed as landscape shots.

The panorama earlier mentioned was carefully composed and exposed to include things like as a great deal of the Milky Way as attainable. This photo is plainly all about the stars, and nonetheless stars are not a element of the earthly landscape. So according to the logic already expressed, this picture shouldn’t be classified as a landscape picture. However it is.

This is because the stars aren’t the primary subject matter here. The radio-telescope is, and the tale (in circumstance you did not get it) tells of how the human species has evolved to the stage where by we’re now on the lookout for signals of intelligent lifestyle on other planets.

If our pictures of the stars never have any relationship to the earth (if the most important topics are only ever planetary), then we most likely need to be categorized as astrophotographers, not landscape photographers.

Aerial Landscapes

The point that the main topics of our landscape photographs ought to always be earth-certain does not necessarily signify that we really should normally be standing on the earth when we seize those people subjects.

Some landscape photographers are fortuitous ample to have quick entry to the air. As with mountainscapes, this sub-genre of landscape photography permits people photographers to go to locations the place number of other folks ever go, making it possible for them to capture unique and unusual compositions of recognizable earthly capabilities.

Aerial landscape images offers a couple specialized problems that we will not discover with other sub-genres. We simply cannot, for example, use a tripod, due to the fact the vibrations of the aircraft would be transmitted to our digicam and our photos would all be blurry. Window reflections can often also existing a large challenge.

But passenger aircraft are not the only platforms for aerial landscapes: if you cannot pay for to charter an aircraft to fly you to your preferred aerial spot, you may possibly be equipped to seize identical compositions with a drone.

There is no greater way to capture broad and unending landscape pics than from far earlier mentioned the earth. But couple of of us are capable to find the money for helicopter charters – so unless of course we can manage a excellent drone, we’re most likely going to have to stick to photographing the earth from the earth.

As prolonged as we’re photographing a little something on World Earth, the end result need to be witnessed as a valid landscape photograph.

Personal Landscapes

Fortuitously there is extra than sufficient fascinating things down below on earth. We only have to open up our eyes a little bit broader to the pure globe around us, to find out to cease and pause and to glimpse up… and then down. There’s some thing attention-grabbing all over the place. Landscape photographers who concentration only on capturing large and endless scenes usually pass up out on several (typically far more intriguing) personal landscape options that are correct beneath our toes.

You can get as intimate as you’d like in this sub-style. Receiving shut to your topics usually reveals specifics that we would not commonly see – and the nearer we get (as in equally macro- and micro-images), the far more we see.

It does not make any difference how huge or tiny they are, as long as our most important topics are natural functions connected to the earth, then our pictures will most probable qualify as landscape photos.

Abstract Landscapes

All-natural features related to the earth really do not even have to be promptly recognizable for our photographs to qualify as landscape photos.

Summary photography is all about the designs, textures, and hues of items, alternatively than the factors by themselves. But below our definitions start out to develop into murky again considering that there is a distinction involving summary shots and abstract landscape pictures. If we can’t constantly be certain what it is that we’re seeking at, then how could we know for confident that it’s a pure element linked to the earth?

It’s for this cause that some photographers truly feel that abstract photography should only at any time be its possess style, and in no way a sub-genre of landscape images.

Nevertheless, the picture higher than certainly falls into both equally the summary and the landscape categories, so in my opinion it shouldn’t be disqualified from possibly. There are sufficient visual clues here for most of us to get the job done out what this photo depicts. It might be an abstract review of shapes, hues, and textures, but it is also evidently connected to the normal, earthly landscape.

Altered Landscapes

One particular ultimate (seemingly satisfactory) sub-style of landscape pictures for dialogue listed here is the discipline of altered landscapes.

In actuality, an altered landscape is only a composite (phony) image in which a number of photos are combined to generate a entirely one of a kind landscape photo.

When I meticulously blended the two shots higher than in Photoshop (a rather wearisome method involving a lot of masking and colour corrections, and so forth.), I was in a position to produce a single picture of my possess individual fantasy landscape:

Why Any of This Matters

Many readers will by now have considered of a few sub-genres of landscape images that I haven’t covered right here: underwater shots, for case in point. Certainly they could qualify as landscape photographs? (By the way, I have not involved that one particular merely simply because I have by no means taken any underwater pics).

But why would any of this matter to everyone?

Real truth be informed, it typically doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter. The accurate essence of a beautiful image will normally keep on being extremely hard to define. Beauty is in the eye of the subjective beholder, and nit-picking about regardless of whether a photo suits into a specific class really shouldn’t issue to any person at all.

Still, I hope this post will enchantment to any rookie or highly developed photographers who enter their function into photo competitions, which usually call for pictures to investigate certain themes or set subjects. Although most levels of competition judges are generally reasonably lenient, numerous judges (me bundled) would immediately disqualify a image from the competitors if it didn’t healthy the stated necessities.

And now, after all these phrases, I continue to have not managed to occur any nearer to discovering a crisp, obvious, a person-paragraph definition of the genre of landscape photography.

About the writer: Paul Bruins is a semi-retired South Africa-dependent qualified landscape photographer. The thoughts expressed in this write-up are exclusively all those of the creator. For the past 20 yrs, Bruins has labored to examine and photograph every single corner of his hometown and region. He has organized and hosted a variety of photographic exhibitions, workshops, and excursions about the earth. His shots have also won several competitions and awards and have been posted in calendars, journals, and guides. You can discover extra of his get the job done on his Flickr and Fb.

Impression credits: Header picture from Depositphotos