The Best Locations for Landscapes Photos May Be Just Around the Corner

The Best Locations for Landscapes Photos May Be Just Around the Corner

Have you taken beautiful landscape photos at Lofoten, the Faroe Islands, or Iceland? Or perhaps you only dream about trips to these breathtaking locations. Don't worry; perhaps the best landscape photo you will ever shoot is in your home town, just around the corner.

I must admit; I love to visit Lofoten, the Faroe Islands, and in my case the French Auvergne where I am hosting my masterclasses. These places give me the opportunity to shoot some amazing landscapes that I won’t find at home. Often it costs lots of money to get there, and hotels and rental cars are expensive also. Unfortunately not everyone has that amount of money to spend, or is willing to do so. Not being able to visit such locations can be frustrating at times, especially when you see all those breathtaking photos of those amazing locations on the internet.

Amazing light at an amazing location. On top of mountain Klakkur at the Faroe Islands watching a great sunset. What would you give to shoot landscapes at such a location? (Canon EOS 5D4 23mm | ISO100 | f/8 | 1/640)

Most people love going to faraway places. Someone that lives close by the sea may have a preference for forest landscapes, while the photographer that lives in that forest may prefer a sea scape. I love shooting mountains, and I wouldn’t mind living there. But that guy who lives there, may find a flat land with an unobstructed view at the horizon breathtaking. Most of us don't mind to travel large distances for that special landscape. We drive for hours and hours, and it can take a lot of planning to be at that faraway location during the right circumstances. It might even lead to disappointment when that beautiful sunrise what we hoped for, didn’t happen.

A great location does not mean you will be able to photograph the things you want or hoped for. During the 2019 Lofoten tour my group and I were stranded due to gale force 11 and heavy rain. No sunset, no nice clouds and no Northern Light.

We tend to forget the beauty of the places where we live. Have you ever looked really good at the place where you live, within a radius of 3 miles for instance, a distance that you can travel in five minutes or so? These places can be reached very quickly, and make it possible to visit ad hoc if an amazing sunset occurs.

It might sound too easy. Not everyone has a landscape available at this close distance. And it is true, when you live in the center of a large city it might be a challenge to find a nice landscape. But there is always a park nearby, with nice footpaths and trees, and perhaps a pond. By choosing the right focal length and position it might even be possible to keep men-made structures out of the frame.

Would you believe if I said this photo was taken in the suburbs of a small city? If you look carefully you will see lampposts. (Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 24mm | ISO100 | f/11 | 0,5 sec | Kase CPL and Kase medium GND 0,6)

The picture you see above is shot in the suburbs of a small Dutch city, next to a busy road. Within a few hundred meters or so you find roads, houses, flats, a canal and sluice, a railroad, and high voltage pylons. It is a small fishing pond where the bushes have been cut down in the previous month, leaving a barren bank with made it possible to reach the water line. By choosing a low point of view I was able to leave all unwanted things out of the frame. Previously I also used this small fishing pond to shoot a lightning storm a vew years ago. A lot of people were very surprised to find out this scenery was just around the corner.

From a high vintage point you can see where I took the photos. The fishing pond is in the middle of the photo.

The same fishing pond, during a thunderstorm. Choosing the right position I was able to leave any traces of human signs out of the frame, except for the lampposts. (Canon EOS 1Dx 24mm | ISO800 | f/5,6 | 1/60)

Yes, there are a view streetlights in the frame, but it might be easy to use the clone tool in Photoshop if you find these distracting. It is funny if you think of it. A lot of landscapes can benefit from a human element in the frame, which give it a sense of perspective. We see this often in photos of Lofoten or the Faroe Islands. But when it comes down to landscapes of our own country, we often try to prevent it as much as possible.

Next to my house there is a park. It is not the most beautiful park in the world, but it has a large pond, a couple of nice trees like weeping willows and oaks, and a nice path between a line of trees. But there are houses visible in every direction. Well, almost every direction. This park has been the stage for a lot of photos from amazing moments throughout the years. When I see something happen, I can run out the door – often with our dog – shoot a couple of pictures, and be home again before diner gets cold.

The pond in the park. Just a minutes walk from my home and the location for the next four photos in this article.

Morning twilight with a red sky and nice crescent moon. Just the tree tops is enough for this picture. No houses, no lampposts... (Canon EOS R 85mm | ISO2000 | f/4 | 1/30)

After the sunset the sky became filled with amazing colors in 2015. (Canon EOS 1Dx 35mm | ISO100 | f/9 | 1/30)

We walked out the dog and I took the camera I was reviewing with me. The sunlight played beautifully between the trees. (Leica SL 88mm | ISO500 | f/10 | 1/80)

Another example of knowing the possibilities of the area where you live. I watched this shelf cloud roll in, and rushed to the park to capture it in full glory. I forgot to bring a raincoat with me. (Canon EOS 5D3 17mm | ISO400 | f/9 | 1/60)

These photos are shot within a two minutes walk from my home. You might think I am blessed with living in such a suburb, and maybe you’re right. But I think almost everyone can find great locations nearby, no matter where they live. You just have to open your eyes, and your mind, to see the hidden treasures of the place where you live. But also think about the things that make a great photo; it is the light that can transform a dull and boring place into an amazing scenery. I am convinced you don’t need to travel across the world for that.

On the other hand, don’t hesitate to visit the photographic wonders of the world if you have the opportunity. I only want to advise you to also look close to home. Perhaps the best photo you will ever shoot might be waiting just around the corner.

The canal in a beautiful evening twilight. the gulls are a nice touch, I think, flying away from a passing boat. (Canon EOS R 85mm | ISO1600 | f/5,6 | 1/250)

Another pond nearby, five minutes distance with a bike. Can you image there are houses on the left, and a busy road with factories on the right? (Leica SL 35mm | ISO800 | f/11 | 1/30)

An old photo I found of the brook next to the canal. I remember the sky was unbelievable and I had to climb through nettles to remove any unwanted objects from the frame. (Canon EOS 1D3 17mm | ISO100 | f/8 | 0,6sec)

A bed of roses in the park was a nice foreground for the sky that was on fire one evening. A very nice composition, if I may say, just around the corner, in the park (Canon EOS 1Dx 35mm | ISO100 | f/9 | 1/20)

Have you ever looked close to home for photographic landscape opportunities? And if you do, do you see possibilities? Or have you never bothered to look? I would love to read your experience in the comments below.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Nando Harmsen is a Dutch photographer that is specialized in wedding and landscape photography. With his roots in the analog photo age he gained an extensive knowledge about photography techniques and equipment, and shares this through his personal blog and many workshops.

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Nando, Thanks for the article and photos.

I totally agree. Photography is about light and light is all around us. If you look carefully and at the right time of day, you'll find many opportunities that can make the familiar exceptional. There should be a contest for pictures taken within 20 miles of your home. I'll bet people will be surprised at what they find.

Image what your images would look like if you were living in Reine, Lofoten :D
Thanks for your thoughts :)

I have been trying to do stuff like this where I live in a suburb of Austin. It can be pretty dry without many bodies of water. No majestic mountains for hundreds of miles.

It can be a fun challenge and doesn't really cost much in terms of time and money.

We are in the process of exploring the brutal landscape of upper Teesdale in North East England. It’s not for the faint hearted I must admit, as it’s seldom explored we are hoping to grab some unique shots, just not sure they are going to look remotely pretty haha.

It feels like a little slap in the face, but hey that’s okay.