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How to photograph a minimalist landscape

The post How to photograph a minimalist landscape first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Simon Bond.

Taking great pictures can be much easier than you think. The simplest images can be the most striking. Keeping your image simple means minimalism. In this article you will learn about taking minimalist landscape photos ' s. Creating this type of image requires the correct use of a lens and often the correct location choice. Read on and discover everything you need to know to create minimalism in your landscape photos.

In this photo the main subject is the distant mountain. The rest of the frame is kept simple.

The location for a minimalist landscape

Wherever you take your photo, your success will determine with minimalist landscape photography. You will be more successful in remote locations, but urban environments can also be used for minimalism.

When shooting in a busier environment, you must use the correct lens and camera angle to preserve the minimalist photos. More remote locations naturally have a minimalist feel, but the challenge at those locations is finding a strong main subject.

The following are locations that you could use for a minimalist landscape:

  • Coast – This is a great location for minimalist photography. The large expanse of the sea invites minimalism. You can build further on this by flattening the sea through prolonged exposure. Interesting rock formations or a lighthouse can be great main subjects.
  • Deserts – Whether you photograph on the sand or on the ice, deserts are the land equivalent of the sea when it comes to minimalism. Vast, uniform in their functions, and without the clutter of human development.
  • mountains – Another remote area is mountains. These also offer opportunities to create a minimalist landscape. With too many mountains in one scene, they can also be potentially messy, so choose the compositions carefully. A lonely hut surrounds the green foothills of a mountain range for a good subject.

Deserts are excellent locations for minimalist landscapes.

The lens

The lens you choose is just as important as the location for a minimalist landscape. There is no absolute rule about which lens to use; it depends on the location where you are. If you have chosen a location in the wilderness, chances are that you can use a wide-angle lens or a long telephoto lens. However, when shooting in the city, the lens becomes important.

  • Wide angle – A lens that works well for minimalism, because you can use that wide angle to create the beautiful negative space that is needed for a minimalist landscape. Consider how you can make a low angle for those ripples in the sand on a sand dune. In a more messy environment, however, you have to be careful, because the wide angle can easily cause unwanted elements in the image and make it too busy.
  • Long focal length – With the longer focal lengths you can zoom in on a specific part of your scene. Here is the challenge to prevent too many things from being compressed in the same photo. Choose an area on the horizon that is interesting but devoid of too many extra elements. This focal length can be a big advantage in an urban environment that is generally too chaotic for minimalism, but has parts of the skyline that can be zoomed in to create a minimal image.

This photo uses a wide-angle lens. This really attracts interest in the foreground of the shapes in the sand.

Adjust your perspective

Photos taken at eye level work well in many situations. However, when you are looking for minimalism, changing a new angle works wonders.

The following are good choices when it comes to simplifying your image:

  • Bird's eye view – Things look very different than a high angle down. The higher you go, the more dramatic this becomes. One of the reasons why drone photography works so well is the potential for minimalism.
  • Worm ' s eye – On the other side, the view of the worm has been looked up. You could record a small part of the horizon line and take the rest of the photo over the sky. This gives you a landscape photo with a very minimalist feel.
  • framing – The use of a frame around the landscape part of your photo can give you a minimalist photo. The landscape itself does not have to be minimalist in this case, as long as the surrounding frame offers enough negative space to check the minimalist frame.
  • Lensball – A lens ball frames a landscape in a spherical object. This allows you to take a minimalist landscape and keep the environment of the ball simple. This also gives your photo a minimalist touch.

A lens ball can be used to capture a scene that is normally not minimalist, and capture it in a minimal way.

A good main subject

Each photo type is enhanced by having a main subject. In some cases, including that main subject can be a bigger challenge. For example, portrait photos always have the main subject – the person you are photographing. Landscape photos may not always have an obvious focal point – in some cases this is not necessary – but for most photos this gives a stronger image.

In a minimalist landscape, that main subject jumps out of the photo, reinforced by minimalism, over the rest of the image. So what type of object could you use for this main topic?

  • A lonely tree – The classic, a lonely tree. There is of course a good reason for that. It is a clear focal point in an image, looks beautiful and works well for a number of compositions. It is also relatively easy to isolate a lonely tree.
  • A single person – A lonely person silhouetted against the horizon. Someone who climbs the ridge by bike. Whether you decide to show this or it was more spontaneous, the photo has more narration.
  • A building – A red-walled building against green hills is a good combination for a photo. A lighthouse can be a great subject in a coastal environment.

The single yurt serves as the main subject in this photo.

Use other techniques

Minimalist landscapes connect naturally with various other well-known photography techniques. You can apply one or more of these to your photo for a better image. View some of these techniques and see why they improve your photo:

  • Silhouettes – To photograph a silhouette, photograph in the direction of the light, and probably against an evening sky. This means that landscape features in your photo are also likely to be black with a colored sky. This gives you a good chance to create a minimalist image.
  • Long exposure – Blurry clouds that move across the sky or flatten the sea are both potential results of photography with long exposure times. Use a tripod and expose it for more than 5 seconds to flatten the sea and usually longer than 30 seconds to see cloud movement.
  • refraction – The use of a lens ball for refraction photography is a good way to create minimalism, even in a busy environment. Place the more complicated scene in the lens ball and surround it with a blurry bokeh background for minimalism.
  • Harmony – This means keeping the same set of colors within the same photo. So try cold colors or warm colors. Even better for minimalism is to keep the same color, but in different shades. This is a lot of potential in landscape photography, especially when the photo is taken from a bird's eye view.
  • Contrast – One of the reasons why black-and-white photography works so well is intrinsic minimalism – especially those black-and-white photos with the highest contrast. Look to experiment with two main colors, and no longer at creating a minimalist landscape.

On this photo there are a number of elements in the frame. The minimalism is provided by the single tone of the image. The main subject stands out against the background.


Landscapes and minimalist photography are two of the most popular photography genres out there, so it makes sense to combine them.

Have you experimented with this type of image? Have you used one of the approaches mentioned in this article? Did you read this article, would it lead you to approach your landscape photography in a slightly different way? What approaches do you use for landscape photography?

As always we would like you to share your opinions and photos with the community. Please share this in the comments section of this article.

The post How to photograph a minimalist landscape first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Simon Bond.

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