8 camera hacks for taking breathtaking landscape photos

8 camera hacks for taking breathtaking landscape photos

Don’t waste that short vacation by taking mediocre iPhone landscape photos. In this post, we’ll teach you 8 hacks for capturing photos that will take your breath away. 

hot air balloon - iPhone landscape photos

How to take breathtaking iPhone landscape photos

You don’t need to use a DSLR camera to take a professional-quality landscape photo. Just use our 10 hacks if you have an iPhone!

Turn on your camera’s HDR. 

While using HDR will consume more storage space, you should definitely use it when you’re taking photos outside. HDR not only balances the highlights and shadows of a photo but also makes it more lifelike and extraordinary. 

You can say that HDR is a makeup kit for your photos.  So, if you want gorgeous iPhone landscape photos, always turn it on. But what does it particularly do to iPhone landscape photos? 

Well, HDR particularly helps you take well-exposed landscape photos easily. For example, when you’re on a mountainside, you will inevitably deal with a lot of dark shadows and bright skies. These elements often overwhelm the beautiful foliage and surroundings, leading to an underexposed or overexposed photo.

What’s the simplest solution?

HDR will help you navigate through that struggle. In just one tap or a few swipes, it will adjust the overwhelmingly bright and gloomy areas in your photos. As a result, the details and the subjects in your photo will now be properly exposed, regardless of the amount of lighting available. 

How to turn on HDR

  1. First, make sure to disable your Camera app’s Smart HDR. If HDR is an expensive makeup kit, Smart HDR is the overbearing makeup artist who will do the decisions for you. If you don’t like being bossed around and manually control your HDR instead, turn it off. Go to Settings > Camera > Toggle the slide for Smart HDR. The slider should turn white.
  2. Exit your Settings app. 
  3. Open your Camera app. You should see the HDR symbol at the top left of your screen.
  4. Now, start taking iPhone landscape photos!

Use Live Mode and convert it into a Long Exposure photo. 

riverside - picturesque photos

Wait, long exposure? Isn’t that a technique used only in DSLR cameras? Well, not anymore. Whether you will take photos of a starry night in a desert or a tall waterfall in Brazil, the Live Mode will help you get that Long Exposure effect. 

When you capture iPhone landscape photos in Live Mode, you can convert a Live image into a long exposure photo. Just go to Photos > Open your Live photo > Swipe up to Effects > Select Long Exposure. For example, if you captured a photo of a waterfall, this effect will add a motion blur effect to the movement of the water. This will result in a genuine smooth appearance, which you can get with a long-exposure technique on a DSLR camera. 

Using Live Mode is not enough, though. If you have the time and you can afford to do it, find out about how a certain area looks during the golden hours, in the early morning, or in the middle of the day. You can search for photos and videos on social media or photography sites. By doing this, you can plan your angles and find the spots with the best lighting. 

In our article about capturing moving water with your iPhone, we talked more about using Live Mode to take long-exposure photos.

Capture with depth. 

You may find picturesque spots easily, but taking a photo with depth is another story. Why should you capture with depth when the aim is to portray the vast beauty of a place? Well, landscape photos are more than just showing a tourist spot’s great beauty. It’s also about enticing the viewer or making an ordinary place extraordinary. So, don’t just capture an area with greenery from a high angle with a sharp foreground and background. Follow these tips when you’re setting the focus on your landscape photos: 

  • If you’re taking a photo of a road, a bridge, or a train track, always keep the foreground sharp. This will make your photo look more inviting to a viewer. They will feel as if they can step right into the photo and walk on that path. 
  • When capturing with depth, you might think that you should always keep the foreground sharp and the background out of focus. Well, obviously that’s true if you have a subject in the photo like an animal or a person. However, if you’re capturing a scenic view, keep the focus somewhere in the middle. This will make sure you’re not wasting a good view, all while still adding depth to your photo. 
  • If you do have a subject in your iPhone landscape photos, don’t dim the spotlight for your background entirely. Choose a background with a lot of foliage or any movement. That way, even though it’s out of focus, it will still help in portraying a story for your subject.  

Pay attention to composition.

hiker couple - iPhone landscape photos
This photo follows the rule of thirds.

When a photo looks right even without good lighting or a filter, it’s mostly because of the composition. That’s the effect of knowing how to properly compose a photo. You may not always control the lighting outdoors, but you can always compensate through the composition. Fortunately, this is not hard to do when you take iPhone landscape photos. Start with these tips: 

  • Enable your grid lines on your iPhone camera. Use the gridline to position your subject. Don’t make it the center of your photo. Instead, position them where the two lines intersect in the grid. This creates a good balance, as opposed to a photo that’s too “in your face.” This is what you call the Rule of Thirds. To enable the grid on your camera, go to Settings > Tap Photos & Camera > Toggle Grid to enable it. 
  • Let the interesting element take more space in your picture. If you’re taking a photo of a grassy area—and it looks more interesting—it should compose ⅔ of the photo. The remaining part should be the sky or your subject. 
  • Use objects to frame a scene or a subject. Nature is insanely skilled in geometry. Don’t miss out on it when you take iPhone landscape photos. Looks for clearings, a clump of flora, or a pair of trees that form a frame. If you have a subject, let them pose inside the frame and there you have it. A free photography prop from Mother Nature.
  • Pay attention to lines. Curves are indeed pleasing to look at, but you should pay attention to the straight lines in a picture. These lines help draw the viewer to a subject or a scene. It’s similar to a frame, but the difference is the lines portray movement towards one direction. 

Play with shadows. 

Lighting has always been a key factor in a good photo. But you can’t underestimate the lack of light. We’re not talking about underexposing a photo; we’re talking about using shadows. Shadows, when used properly, can elevate a photo. They will add more drama and mystery, especially if it’s a portrait. But what if it’s a landscape photo? You can definitely play with shadows on iPhone landscape photos. Just follow these tips: 

  • Improve your photo’s composition. If you want to hide details in a photo without making them out of focus or eliminating them entirely, use shadows. You can also use them to frame the scene, similar to what a vignette effect does.
  • Use shadows to portray your subjects. Meanwhile, if you want to keep the mystery for your subjects, capture their shadows instead of them. Take note that the subjects will be out of the picture. What you or the viewer should only see are the shadows. This will make the viewer be curious about what the subjects are doing. 
  • Let shadows become a backdrop for your subject. Nature isn’t only good in geometry but it’s also very generous in giving you material to work with. Case in point: use shadows as your subject’s background. For example, if you’re in a forest, you can create your very own studio effect in nature by placing your subject in front of a shadowy area. 
  • Show different textures. You should also use shadows to show the textures of an area. For example, a hill would have pebbles, critters, grasses, and boulders. In a wide-angle photo with poor lighting, that area would look flat. Show the texture by emphasizing how the light falls on the hill in your photo. 

Use a wide-angle clip-on lens. 

Never forget this tool if you’re planning to take a lot of iPhone landscape photos! If you have an older iPhone model, invest in a clip-on wide-angle lens. This will expand your camera’s field of view. Recently, we talked about the best camera lenses for iPhone; but if you’re only interested in wide-angle lenses, we listed our favorite ones here:

  • Beastgrip x Kenko Pro Series 0.75X wide-angle lens. When you shop for wide-angle lenses, you should always look for those products that don’t distort photos. This universal smartphone lens by Beastgrip x Kenko is one of those lenses. Besides giving you a wider FOV and high-contrast, sharp quality, it won’t distort your landscape photos.
  • AOMAIS Pro Camera Lens Kit. This is another powerful wide-angle lens. Besides the wide-angle lens giving you a 120-degree FOV, you can also experiment with the macro lens and take well-exposed pics with the free clip-on LED light. 
  • Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone. We have a lot of love for this 2-in-1 lens. For its price, Xenvo Pro looks and performs like a hundred-dollar lens. It functions as a 0.45x wide-angle lens and 15x macro lens, which is beneficial for dynamic landscape photography. There’s also a free fill light in the kit if you’re into night photography. 

Invest in a sturdy but flexible tripod. 

tripod for iPhone landscape photos

Last but not least, you must never forget to invest in a well-crafted tripod or gimbal. There are different kinds of tripods in the market today. Some are a selfie stick and a tripod in one, while others have flexible legs. If you’re primarily into landscape photography, we can recommend the following: 

  • UBeeSize Tripod S. For adventurous photographers or vloggers, this UBeeSize should be essential. We particularly like this tripod because it’s lightweight and small. But those are just the bonuses. The real advantages are the flexible legs and the remote shutter button, which will let you take interesting photos from any angle or position. 
  • LINKCOOL Flexible Octopus Travel Tripod. This is another favorite bendy tripod of ours. Like the UBeeSize tripod, this LinkCool product is definitely designed for landscape photographers. We recommend this product because despite being the most affordable and having flexible legs, it looks and feels sturdy. It also has leg covers if you want that extra layer of protection when you’re taking photos in rough terrains. 
  • Cellways Phone Tripod. If you’re still on a tight budget but want a quality tripod, we suggest this flexible tripod by Cellways. While light and small, the flexible legs still feel and look tough. It also comes with a free remote shutter button that connects with your phone in under three seconds. 


While iPhones are no match for the manual options of a DSLR camera, you can still take breathtaking pictures with these hacks. Besides, we believe that your artistic vision as a photographer composes 80% of a good picture. The rest is the camera and chance. So, worry less about your device and hone your eye for good photographs, instead. 

Related questions 

How to take landscape photos on iPhone 11?

Use the Ultra Wide-Angle camera on your iPhone 11 to take beautiful landscape photos. Open your Camera. > Tap the 0.5 button at the top of the shutter button. > Start taking photos with a wider field of view. For the best results, use a gimbal or a tripod. 

How to change a photo from portrait to landscape on iPhone?

Open your Photos app. > Select your photo. > At the bottom of your screen, tap the button with lines and circles. > Next, tap the rotation icon. > This will turn your portrait photo into a landscape photo.