There's a lot of talk amongst photographers (myself included) about everything that's necessary for someone to create a better photo.
That includes the usual suspects - an understanding of light, learning how to use one's camera, and a dedication to understanding principles of composition.
And while those are all necessary, even if you have mastery over those topics, without a little creative inspiration, that knowledge and those skills won't do you a whole lot of good.
With that in mind, I've put together 11 stunning landscape photos to help inspire you for the coming weekend.
The great thing about landscape photography is that it doesn't just have to be the landscape featured in the image.
In this beautiful desert shot, the caravan of camels adds shape and structure to a shot that would otherwise lack it.
What's more, the caravan of camels accentuates the upward slope of the sand dune. That helps contrast it with the angle of the sunlight behind it, creating an interesting array of intersecting lines.
If you want to add a little life and vitality to a landscape, try adding a human element or animals. As you can see here, it works quite well!
In fact, sometimes a manmade element can be the most imposing thing in a landscape shot.
This gorgeous photo of the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, is a prime example of this principle.
Note how the low perspective brings landscape elements into the foreground to give the shot a more natural, landscape-type feel.
The view of the lake and the mountains in the background further helps ground the church in the surrounding environment for an interesting take on what landscape photography can mean.
When you first glance at this photo, I'm guessing you notice two things before anything else - the setting sun and the glow of the leaves on the tree.
And while those elements are certainly beautiful, you should note two other things - the person on the right side of the shot at mid-ground and the way that water was used in the foreground to lighten it up.
As noted above, adding a human element can make a landscape a little more meaningful. In this case, you might wonder what this person is taking a photo of as they crouch closer to the ground.
Additionally, adding water to the foreground of the shot helps lighten up what would otherwise be a very dark area of the photograph.
If you find that you're struggling with the dynamic range in your images being too wide, find a way to incorporate water.
Not all breathtaking landscapes have to be lush and colorful and full of life.
I'd argue that this beautiful shot of a seemingly lifeless landscape in the Canary Islands has a beauty unto itself because of the shapes and textures of the mountains and hills.
Without any vegetation, we have a full view of the interesting canyons, folds, and cracks in the earth.
The leading lines created by the roadway also help by directing our eye from the foreground to the background.
Try creating a simple landscape like this one this weekend that focuses on one or two features - a consistent color, for example, or the texture of the earth.
When you want to restrict the view, use a frame within a frame to drive the viewer's eye deeper into this shot.
This is especially helpful for images like the one above, in which the focal point is the blanket of stars above the jagged mountains in the background.
Another feature that helps draw our attention to the background elements is the leading line created by the winding pathway that leads from the foreground down to the valley and beyond.
Incorporate one or both of these elements in your next landscape to see how they improve the viewing experience.
Sometimes, it's hard to get out of the habit of taking only wide-angle shots of a landscape.
But as you can see in the shot above, there is merit in using a longer focal length lens on your subject.
In this case, framing a closer shot of the Matterhorn allows us to really inspect its form, including the texture created by the rocks, trees, and snow on its face.
This isn't to say you should only use a telephoto lens now - take a wide-angle and a telephoto and use each to take a photo of the same subject for a little variety.
The Lofoten Islands in Norway are a popular destination for landscape photographers.
But most of the images you see from here are from sea level, not up high like this shot.
What makes this image so interesting is that high perspective. You get a sense of how the village below fits into the larger landscape.
Additionally, the high vantage point allowed the photographer to highlight the jagged islands in the background, which, with the setting sun, makes for a very pleasing view.
Try changing the perspective from which you shoot your landscapes - it will add variety and drama to your collection of photos.
Not all of us have a drone handy to take aerial shots like the one above...
But I think you'll agree that this type of perspective opens up a whole new world of opportunities for photographing landscapes.
Like earlier examples in this article, the beauty of this shot is in its simplicity.
The detail of the black sand beach and its interaction with the incoming waves is almost so textural that you feel like you can touch the screen and feel the sand and water between your fingers!
The key to simple shots like this is finding contrasts between textures, shapes, colors or even values of dark and light.
Long exposure landscape photography is one of my favorites because it helps you create a calm, serene scene where that calmness might not otherwise exist.
Here, you can see the waves on the beach appear as milky smooth water to help with the serene vibe (the sunset lends to that as well).
Also notice the framing - the high horizon gives us enough of a view of the sunset's colors while also giving us a good view of the foreground interest.
The result? A well-balanced, colorful shot that makes you feel as though you're right there feeling the warm sun on your face!
Sometimes you have to get up a little early to get the shot you want.
In this case, being at the right place when the sun rises garnered impressive results as the Tetons are set ablaze with morning light.
Another advantage of photographing landscapes in the morning is that with calm wind, waters are often calm as well for beautiful reflection shots.
You might also find wildlife feeding in the early morning hours too. It's a win-win situation!
Wrapping It Up
I hope you find these photos as inspiring as I do...
Let's all get out there this weekend and see what we can do with this newfound inspiration!
If you need more ideas, check out five fast landscape photography tips in the video below by Jimmy McIntyre: