Tip #1: Turn on Grids
Regardless of the camera you’re using (DSLR, mirrorless, or smartphone), you should be able to turn on a grid to help you line up your shots; consult your manual if necessary.
For those of you using your camera, be sure to access Lightroom Mobile, a powerful editing application for your phone (iPhone or Android) that you can download for free. What many people don’t know is that Lightroom mobile, in addition to being a great photo editing application, also has a powerful camera built into it. As illustrated in the images above, the camera and grid system is easy to locate within the app.
You’ll notice a variety of grids available, including a square overlay, the rule of thirds, and the golden ratio. I don’t use the square overlay much, but I use the other two options quite often. I recommend using these grids when you can, but don’t always lean on the rule of thirds for every single shot.
If you have a newer iPhone, you’ll find that you have these grids already built into the native camera application. All you need to do to access the grid is enable the “Grid” option under your camera settings on the phone. I actually recommend using your native camera app whenever possible.
Tip #2: Use Your Phone or an ND (Neutral Density) Filter to Create Reflections
If you’re not using your phone to capture images, you can still use it to create a reflection. Otherwise, square ND filters make great reflective surfaces when their not being used for their initial purpose. Reflections can be used to add visual interest to an image as well as conceal distracting elements in a scene. In the image below, I used an ND filter to create a reflection and conceal a light switch on the wall.
Tip #3: Find a Person
When shooting a landscape image, one of my favorite things to do is include a person in the frame to add a sense of story and scale to the photo. In the image above, there’s a paddle boarder a couple hundred feet out in the water. I lowered the camera angle to photograph the paddle boarder against a clean sky, which allows us to more clearly see the form and shape of the subject’s body.
Bonus Tip: If you’re using your iPhone, rotate the phone so that the camera lens is on the bottom (closer to the rocks). Getting the lens close to the foreground elements helps add depth and visual interest to the image.