How to Take Amazing Landscape Photos When You Live in a “Boring” Landscape

Landscape photography is fun and exciting when the landscape in front of you is grand and epic, but what do you do when the landscape is flat and boring?

I have spent the better part of my landscape photography career photographing some of the most epic and “popular” locations in the western U.S., Iceland, The Faroe Islands, Lofoten, and some of the most iconic places in Europe. I have enjoyed it all and I still absolutely love to photograph the icons. However, at some point, the epic and iconic landscapes also become a bit repetitive to photograph and you may need a new injection of inspiration. A huge side benefit of traveling so much is you get to see your own country in a new light. You learn what is unique to your local area and what you once thought was lame and boring might now be special. On top of that, having traveled so much I have also honed my skills as a landscape photographer and I can use those same skills in my own country.

I live in Denmark and if you have never seen any landscape photography from here, I do not blame you. Denmark is not a trending country for landscape photography. We have epic Norway a few hours to the north and the Alps a day’s drive to the south. Why even bother photographing a flat country with long rolling hills, relatively young forests, and endless beaches?

Find a Focal Point

I love the Danish landscape, I find it very pretty, and I have obvious nostalgic feelings about it but for a long time, I did not really find it photogenic. I always missed a big triangular mountain in the background to work as the focal point.

However, after one successful session at a lighthouse in early 2019 my perspective for what is possible in Denmark completely changed. It was one of those “epiphany moments.” Obviously, I could not keep photographing the same lighthouse so I started to explore Denmark for something worth pointing my camera at. Almost anything goes: fishing boats, churches, old windmills, lighthouses, castles, bridges, ancient monuments, and trees. To my surprise, Denmark has many old and characteristic trees – something that Iceland, The Faroes, and big parts of Norway lack! We also have a good amount of ancient monuments you can incorporate into a composition. I found all this by exploring and looking into what Denmark has to offer. I bet your country has something too. A good focal point does not have to be a mountain, waterfall, or glacier. It is all up to you.

The Right Conditions

What all landscape photography has in common is the influence of and dependence on the weather. Follow the weather forecast and use the apps to your benefit. Windy, Yr, and Clear Outside are my preferred weather apps. They can help you predict clear skies, fog, high humidity, low clouds, etc. Everything to your heart's content. In the examples above and below the fog plays a huge role in making the individual photos work.

In the photo below here, it is not fog but just the sun peeking through the trees at the right moment that makes this scene work.

And of course, do not be afraid of stormy weather. It actually has a tendency to improve and make your photos more interesting.

Keep It Simple

Keeping your frames simple and clean is luckily one of the easier things to do in a flat landscape. It is arguably the most obvious thing to do. The hard part is to embrace a minimalist approach to landscape photography when most of the photos we are exposed to are these grand epic vistas with loads of depth and color.

I briefly mentioned the lone trees and they are great for minimalist yet impactful photography. Just see the photo below here.

This photo is another great example where we have the largest bridge in Denmark and the crescent moon. The negative space calms the photo down.

Zoom In

The wide-angle lens is typical for contemporary landscape photography. It is used to include the scene and create a strong depth with a strong foreground. However, this approach also requires some specific kind of landscapes and conditions. It works occasionally for my photography in Denmark, but for the most part, I use my standard and telephoto zoom lenses. With wide-open vistas, the longer focal lengths work really well to create the effect of perspective compression. You achieve this effect by increasing the distance to the subjects of your scene while zooming further in. In this way, you can both fill the frame with what you want to photograph, make distant objects seem larger, and create a sense of scale. The photo below from the same bridge as above is a great example of this.

And here is another example with comet NEOWISE.

With a distance of about 300 meters between the camera and myself on top of the hill comet Neowise looks huge!

Get a Drone

I know this last tip can be expensive, but using a drone can literally change your perspective. Yes, of course, you have to abide by the laws of your country, but even then, it is a completely new world that opens up. 56% of Denmark is rural landscape and is thereby the most cultivated country in Europe. It can seem a bit frustrating exploring a country and you will “just” see field after field after field. However, with a drone, you can capture the shapes of the fields and reach areas you were not able to on foot.

By implementing the above tips, I have grown very fond of photographing in Denmark. It is a country like many others with a rich history and many unique and special locations. You just need to find them and that is on you as a landscape photographer.

Be sure to check out the video above to see how I got some of the photos I have shown in this article and how I approached photographing a foggy morning in a hilly landscape in Denmark. Do you have more tips about what to do if you live in a “boring” country? Be sure to share them in the comments below.

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38 Comments

Michael Krueger's picture

I'm familiar with flat and boring landscapes, need a good hour drive to find hills or a forest.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Wow, that's even more flat than Denmark :D

Matthew Lacy's picture

Midwest US? That looks pretty familiar.

D Man's picture

Aren't those hills in the field between each plowed strip? LOL

Dan Marchant's picture

If something is boring you just aren't looking at it the right way.

Scott Ruffner's picture

Such excellent work Mads. Thank you for the inspiration!

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Thanks a lot, Scott :)

Trent Canupp's picture

Wonderful work. I have been to Denmark several times and find it a beautiful country.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Thanks, Trent. I really like it too :)

Steven Weston's picture

Most landscape photographs picture a world much larger than ourselves. I like them. But there are "landscapes" smaller than us -- landscapes within the span of your hand or your arms. I like them too.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Yeah, I am just not much into macro photography just yet ;)

Steven Weston's picture

Not so much macro photos because of the shallow depth of field. More like a wide angle close-up where the POV is like an angled aerial perspective. I think I need a picture to clearly show what I mean. So, it's time to make a few of them.

George Givens's picture

Enjoyed article. I live in a country with some of the amazing vistas you speak of, however, I live in a part of this country that is a lot like Denmark, flat farmland. I have been in the area so long that I find it difficult to find a fresh perspective of my immediate surroundings. Do you have any suggestions of what I can do to create fresh perspectives of the same old place?

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Besides using a drone I like learning about the history of a given place. If you can somehow incorporate that into your photos you've come a long way :)

Nsikak Ekong's picture

Nice landscape images. In my country there great scene like this in Jos, Plateau, kaduna state, but you can't just go out to do landscape, you will be kidnapped or kill by islamist fanatics.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

I'm sorry to hear that. A lot of healing still needs to be done in the world!

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen's picture

There is something special when you get great shots close to home! Great article!

Kai Hornung's picture

Great article, Mads. And do not underestimate the satisfaction of making something rather ordinary look great in a photograph. It’s where real photography starts for me as it requires more observation and eye to frame a subject and make it special.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

I completely agree. It is also more relatable when you get a great shot close to home :)

Ruud van der Nat's picture

I live in the Netherlands, and in my area we don’t even have hills. For transport I’m mostly depend on my bicycle, so my area is quite small. But I live on the beautiful island of Schouwen-Duiveland with lots of coast and nature reserves, and the weather and light is different every day. Watching your videos has helped with useful tips and lots of inspiration to go out and shoot.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Holland is such a beautiful country. If you live in a nature reserve you can benefit from that but by seeing Albert Dros' photography I know there are plenty of opportunity in Holland :)

RT Simon's picture

One might say that during a pandemic, a lot of boring landscapes are being made from distant windows overlooking familiar places, that perhaps one never really looked at. and suddenly a telephoto lens makes a lot of sense to the wide angle aficionado who wants to get close up every time. Every wide angle landscape that one never bothers to photograph because of familiarity, is actually filled with thousands of miniature landscapes that might merit a visit with the human eye.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Absolutely. Another benefit of the pandemic is people explore close to home. The diversity of quality photos I've seen online has really gone up during the pandemic :)

Vladimir Vcelar's picture

There's no such thing as a "boring landscape", only boring imagination!

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

That's a question of definition. However, I do agree and that's why I put it in quotations ;)

peter rath's picture

Inspiring article ! It made me remember the words of a mentor, "Anybody can make a Ferrari look great, try making a Ford Escort look sexy !"

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

HAHA! That is so true. I'll remember that :)

Samir Kilachand's picture

Hi Mads! I absolutely love your work. You have got me interested in photography again after a long while. I’m in the UAE. I can hardly wait for winter to try some desert landscape photography. Sadly, it’s summer right now and 45C+ with very poor air quality. I’m not even sure my equipment would survive an outdoor shoot right now.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Desert photography is so fascinating! I love some of the photos I've seen from that area. Good luck, 45 degrees is a bit to the hot side so I definitaly understand you wanna wait ;)

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