Photo composition techniques in landscape photography

Photo Composition techniques

In Landscape Photography

Photography · February 20 2022

photo blog photography

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer

By Isabella Tabacchi

The photo composition techniques are decisive for the success of a landscape image. In a social media world, where so many photographers are showing their contents every day, it’s really important to be unique to inspire!

The photo composition techniques are basically ways to be unique and not only! 

Various scientific studies show that the human eye is particularly drawn to images in which a certain combination of elements in specific positions.

In this blog post I’ll tell you the most important rules and some ideas for your landscape photography composition.

In this post

Photo composition techniques 

1. The Main Subject

Don’t get lost in looking around without focusing on something specific! Choose a main subject for your landscape.

It can be a mountain range, a tree, a volcano… even a big element in the sky as the Moon, especially if you’re in a plain.

Calendario foto Kamchatka 2022 photo composition

In this picture the main subject is the Udina volcano

2. Lead the view in the photo composition

When you’ve found your main subject, look for something leading to that.

The eyes need to be guided to the subject as the ears need to listen to a melody. We have to find something in the foreground that creates a perspective to the main subject.

Calendario foto Kamchatka photo composition

In this picture the main subject is the waterfall of the Opasny canyon in Kamchatka. The crack on the sulphuric cliff strongly leads the view to it.

One of the most widely used rules in landscape photography is the one of the leading lines. A shape, movement or natural elements creating lines lead to the main subject.

The reason why I like to use the leading lines in my photo composition is because they create a strong perspective.

Often in architecture photography you can perceive a lot of the perspective in a building or in a skyline. Well, in landscape photography the concept is the same, but we use nature to express our points of view.

Photo composition techniques 

3. How to find the leading lines

You can find guide lines in all seasons and in all weather conditions. Use them for your picture composition! Flowers (as they are naturally arranged), roots, ice and tracks in the snow are just a few examples.

My tip for your creativity is to experiment a lot. When you’re in a spot, go around, try to take some pictures, explore the secrets of the location, even if it looks boring.

I really love this part of the shooting phase because in every season, in every year there is something different in the foreground.

focus stacking

The roots are impressive leading lines to the Matterhorn.

“Roots of the Eternity” was taken in a very well known place I was planning to visit for some years before the time of this shot in 2019. Grindjisee is one of the lakes near Zermatt where there are some trees reflecting in the water.

Before going there I thought that there were not so many composition choices, just trees reflecting, grass next to the shore and similar subjects in the foreground. 

But when I was there I went around the spot and I found those roots with that amazing shape! I was so proud about it. 

That’s just an example, there are several places where I found inspiring elements on the foreground creating a unique view of the main subject in this picture is the one and the only Matterhorn.

Photo composition techniques 

4. Frames

A landscape surrounded by a cave or by branches brings a new perspective on the main element.

The frames in nature help to focus much better on the main subject and they are very attractive. 

I think this photo composition technique helps to overcome the problem of a clear sky that can be boring.

Hasselblad X1D in Namibia

Behind the scenes of  ” Dance of the trees”

“Dance of the trees” was taken near the Namib desert. It’s a double exposure and focus stacking. 

In that area of Namibia the absence of clouds can be challenging in the daytime. So I had to find a solution.

Luckily there are huge trees with branches looking like the arms of a gyant! Without the tree in the foreground this picture would be really boring.

So, don’t get discouraged by the weather conditions! With a cool composition you’ll get a crazy shot anyway.

Cave photo composition ideas Isabella Tabacchi

Two pictures with two different frames.

Icycles frame photo composition ideas Isabella Tabacchi

Another attractive photo composition with frames is the cave.

This kind of element looks really impressive especially in the Winter landscapes, with icicles and other frozen elements.

Photo composition techniques 

5. Where’s the horizon?

In most of the situations it’s really important to choose where the horizon should be in our pictures.

That’s because of one main reason: which part is important in our image? 

If there is a wonderful sky and a not so attractive foreground, the horizon is very low in the photo.

Examples of this situation are the storm photos. Indeed, in these conditions, there is an impressive sky and usually the storm chasing areas are in large plains with few elements like trees.

In most of the pictures in my gallery you should have noticed the horizon is often high, that’s because I like to focus on rich foregrounds.

Namibia sky photo composition techniques

In this picture the horizon is low because the sky is the most impressive part of the landscape

But in my opinion, this technique is not a must and there can be exceptions to that. The most important thing to make your picture attractive is that it is impactful.

So, the most important thing is to strongly lead the view to your main subject.

6. Symmetries in a photo composition

The human brain is very attracted to symmetry, which is created, for example, by elements such as reflections in water.

In this case, the horizon line is often positioned in the center of the image.

Autumn souls symmetry photo composition

Photo composition techniques

7. Composing with the Tele Lens

When we take photos with the telephoto lens, we don’t have leading lines and we do not have the same possibilities as for a wide-angle lens.

But we can work with layers that are arranged one behind the other to create depth.

With the telephoto, distant objects can appear very big in your picture, which makes a completely new view of details in the landscape.

Photo composition tele lens layers Isabella Tabacchi

8. Lone Elements

You can create very interesting photo compositions of a “lone” element.

The lone element can be a summit over a “sea of clouds”, a person looking at a kind of landscape which is basically quite abstract (fog and clouds), a tree in the mist and similar small elements.

This kind of photo composition technique can give a sense of the greatness of nature in comparison with a small element

Usually this photo composition is done with the tele lens.

Sky pyramid Lone elements Tele lens photo composition Isabella Tabacchi

“Sky Pyramid” is an example of a lone element.

Photo composition techniques

9. Intimate landscape photography

Basically, intimate landscapes are details of bigger scenes in nature.

Some examples are patterns of leaves, small elements in the background of a natural scenery, details of a slope, of a glacier.

Also some kinds of aerial shots are considered intimate landscapes, for instance details of a valley, rivers that look like veins from above.

Usually the photo composition techniques to create these shots are to capture a kind of pattern made of repeating elements.

Intimate landscape photography photo composition Isabella Tabacchi

Example of intimate landscape photo composition. This is a detail of the Aletsch glacier.

Photo composition techniques

10. How do I use the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the most important photo composition techniques.

If you divide your image into 9 equal-sized sections with two horizontal and two vertical lines, you’ll get areas called thirds.

According to scientific studies, if you place the subject on the intersections of these thirds, the human eye will be more attracted to the subject.

Some cameras can display this grid inside the camera. In post-processing, you can find this grid when transforming or cutting in Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

Rule of thirds photo composition Isabella Tabacchi

Example of a picture taken by using the rule of thirds.

Usually I like to use the rule of thirds when I have a small element with a monotonous background or two elements, one small and one very big.

But my favorite photo composition technique is the central subject with leading lines on the foreground, stronger and more impactful in my opinion.

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer Landscape Photography

About the Author


Isabella Tabacchi is an award-winning landscape photographer based in the north of Italy.

Despite her young age, she is is one of the most influential landscape photographers.

She is Hasselblad Heroine, MIFA Photographer of the Year 2020 and won the third prize as International Landscape Photographer of The Year.



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Excire Foto Review

Excire Foto Review

Organize your photos with AI

Photography February 11 2022

Excire Foto Review

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer

By Isabella Tabacchi

Excire Foto is a software which uses AI to organize your pictures. You can classify your photos by keywords and that’s a good method aiming to find them easily.

Excire Foto is a really interesting software, especially for a chaotic photographer like me.

Excire helps you to classify very well your pictures and it has a lot of features that we’ll explore in this blog post.

This app came after Excire Search, a plugin for Lightroom with the same goal to organize our pictures easily. 

A special thank you to Sandro Bedin, one of my students and Excire Foto ambassador. He’s always full of ideas, one of those devoted customers who always suggests new fantastic things to try.

After a very busy time I finally had the time to try Excire and found out that it is really useful for my workflow. Let’s see why!

In this post

How to download Excire?

You can download and try this software by clicking on the banner below. The license costs 69 and you can try the trial version for 14 days.

After the installation process on your PC or your Mac, Excire will be ready to classify your pictures.

You can download and try this software by clicking on the banner below. The license costs 69 and you can try the trial version for 14 days.

After the installation process on your PC or your Mac, Excire will be ready to classify your pictures.


This is the main interface of Excire Foto. As you can notice, here are several features that will help you to classify your pictures from all your computer folders and hard drives.

Where to start? Well, let’s see everything step by step!

Excire Foto  interface getting started photo management

First of all, let’s add the Folders. We can add the folders of the RAW files in our hard disks or in our computer for example.

I have many hard drives so I just added two of my “RAW Archives”.

When you’ve added the folders, the second step is to Analyze the pictures to let the software classify them with its AI intelligence and its default keywords.

To use this feature, you’ll need to go on the left, click with the right button of the mouse on the folder you’ve added previously.

Excire Foto will take some time to analyze all the pictures. My analysys was quite long because I have over 22k RAW files per “RAW Archive”. I think it was at least half an hour long, but it depends on your computer performance too.

Excire Foto Analyze

Sort your photos by Keywords

On Excire Foto, you can find the keywords on the right. There are default keywords that automatically classify your pictures with the AI.

You can explore your photos by keywords going down on the right and clicking on the keywords under Content or Photography.

Excire Foto keywords

You can create your own keywords.

You can do it by clicking it on each image or selecting more of them and adding the new keyword on the right.

This is a very useful feature for me, to classify my RAW files by different characteristics than places. 

Indeed I usually classify my pictures by places with Collections.

Creating Collections on Excire Foto

Collections are another way to classify your pictures on Excire Foto. 

I suggest you use Collection just to divide your photos in big categories like projects or places.

For instance I started to create a summer collection and a winter one for Alpe di Siusi, a location in the Dolomites that I visited several times during the years. 

In this way I’ll have all my winter or summer views of Alpe di Siusi in two collections and I’ll never forget to have some wonderful pictures of that spot!

Colors and Ratings on Excire Foto

On the top of the interface there are two additional options to classify your images: Rating and Colors

You can also find these features on other softwares and they couldn’t be missed here.

For me the rating is very important to understand which are my favorite pictures in the folders or in the collections.

Excire Foto Labels

From Excire Foto to Photoshop

Excire Foto allows you to open your RAW files in other external softwares too.

That’s essential for a good app like this. Indeed, I manage my pictures to select them for the editing phase. This process is a part of my workflow, even after a long period of storage.

You can open a picture in another software by clicking on it with the right button of the mouse.

On the opened menu, you choose Open with… 

Choose Adobe Photoshop

If your image is a RAW file it will be opened in Camera Raw as it happens on Adobe Bridge.

Excire Foto open in Photoshop

You can also click on Choose application to open your file with another editing app.

Unfortunately Excire Foto can’t open the pictures in Lightroom because this Adobe app has its own way to export and organize the photos. 

So, if you work with Lightroom and you like the Excire Foto features, you have to import the chosen RAW files separately. Otherwise you can consider to buy Excire Search, the plugin for Lightroom.

Excire Foto: my opinion

Excire Foto is a very useful software for everyone who has a huge archive or several hard drives and can easily get confused with so many images.

The price of 69 € can be high for a simple photo manager but not so high for all these AI functionalities like the keywords.

I suggest you get the trial. If you like this way to organize your photos and think it can be really useful for your workflow, then Excire Foto is the best choice.

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer Landscape Photography

About the author 


Isabella Tabacchi is an award-winning landscape photographer based in the north of Italy.

Despite her young age, she is is one of the most influential landscape photographers.

She is Hasselblad Heroine, MIFA Photographer of the Year 2020 and won the third prize as International Landscape Photographer of The Year.



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Photo Gear. What’s never missing in my tours?

Photo gear. What’s never missing?

Photography December 17 2021

photo gear

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer

By Isabella Tabacchi

As photo gear, the camera is the essential tool to start a new adventure, taking pictures of my favorite landscapes. But there are many other things I bring with me during my shooting sessions.

In this post I will tell you what is never missing in my photo kit to face a shooting in the best possible way and for what reason. In the next articles, however, I will focus more on each type of equipment and how to choose the one that is best for you.

photo gear Kamchatka Isabella Tabacchi

Photo Gear I: the camera

Of course, my camera is absolutely necessary to capture the magic of every place I visit. From the moment I started my way as a landscape photographer I have had three types of cameras of increasing quality.
This is because I started with an aps-c when I wasn’t sure photography would become more of a hobby, a full frame SLR when I realized I was interested to live  with photography, and the medium format mirrorless when I decided to make a further qualitative leap.

Get Spare Cards and Readers Steady up your Shots Get a Tripod Protect your Gear Get Bags and Cases Dont forget that Lens Select a Spare Camera Check out all of the Photo Gear youll need.

Which things are important for me in a camera?

The features we look for in a camera can vary according to the priorities that each of us has: the kind of photography, style or use of the photos.
The qualities I look for in a camera are the high dynamic range, the excellent management of colors and contrasts, which must be quite realistic. The quality of the RAW must be very high, so that I can make very precise adjustments in the editing phase without losing information.

Hasselblad X1D camera Kamchatka photo gear

My purpose is to recover all the information in a scene when the sensor is not always able to capture it. A high dynamic range can recover highlights and shadows with strong differences between them, even if not always completely.
My ideal camera has a sensor which can create good RAW without too much noise when I set high ISO. This is essential for night photography and many other conditions.

How did I choose my cameras and why?

I spent 7 years with Nikon cameras, first an aps-c and after a D810, a full frame.

Since the end of 2018 I have been using a Hasselblad X1D first and then I upgraded it to a X1D II.

Many people ask me why I chose Hasselblad. It’s the same reason why I chose Nikon before Hasselblad and why many of you have chosen to buy your camera of a certain brand.

I had always heard about the quality of Hasselblad and since a long time was interested about taking pictures with medium format. I liked Hasselblad world since a long time because it’s a historic brand that has also seen the moon landing. So I tried my first X1D and I was happy even though the X1D II has many improvements, especially regarding its speed and practicality of many functions. 

Also, if X1D passed the test of my journey in Kamchatka, it means that I really enjoyed it.

Photo Gear II: Lenses

Wide Angle

My favorite lens is definitely the wide angle one. It allows me to best express my creativity from any point of view.
Currently, my wide-angle is a prime lens, XCD 21, a 21mm in medium format which corresponds to 17mm of a full frame focal length.
Before my medium format period I was using a Nikkor 14-24mm f / 2.8. So I was able to compare a zoom lens with a prime one.
It wasn’t very difficult to get used to a prime lens. It certainly makes you to train your gaze and try to adapt much more to what the lens is “seeing”. The sharpness is certainly greater and I do not feel the lack of a zoom lens. But these preferences depend on each person.

Other lenses I use

I also own two medium focal length lenses, XCD 30 and 45P, and an XCD 135 telephoto lens that I often combine with a 1.7x teleconverter. They are all prime lenses.
In my backpack none of them are missing because they are all quite light. The heaviest optics are the tele lens and the wide angle but I was used to some much heavier and bulky optics that I used with the full frame. 
The 45P takes up a tiny space and the XCD 30 weighs a little less than the 21.

Photo Gear III: Tripods

In my career as a photographer I have tried countless tripods, of different sizes and materials.

My favorite are the carbon fiber tripods: certainly the lightest compared to the magnesium and aluminum ones.

According to my experience, a very important thing to pay attention to, when you purchase a tripod, is the material is combined with the carbon fiber: some components in the upper part of the tripod could be made of another material, much heavier.

The quality of the carbon fiber and other parts of the tripod, including the screws, must be very high.
If the components are easily unscrewed or damaged quickly, the tripod is no longer stable.
In complicated shooting phases this could be annoying or ruin our shots with the motion blur. For this reason, my shopping philosophy is that I prefer to spend a lot, but only once.

My last choice

After many years, I chose Gitzo, one of the best tripod brands on the market. I bought the Mountaineer S1 which weighs 1.78 kg and has a maximum height of 171 cm. Strong stability.

Then, after the second lockdown, I started testing the Gitzo Traveler S1 weighing 1.43 kg and maximum height of 165 cm. For travels by airplane with hand luggage or high mountain hikes, the Gitzo Traveler is my favorite choice. One of the best tripods I’ve ever had for stability, maximum height and lightness.

Gitzo Mountaineer S1 photo gear

If you are interested in these products, you can take a look on B&H website clicking on the banner. If you read my blog from Europe you can just click on the images below to buy them directly on the Gitzo website.

Joby gorillapod 5k

The gorillapod is a mini tripod with flexible legs. You can shape them in order, for instance, to attach your camera even to a tree branch. Of course never tried it, but the Joby is really helpful to take shots almost on the ground for my crazy focus stacking techniques or in very tricky positions. 

PHOTO GEAR IV: Camera bags

The characteristics that a good photo bag must have are: capacity to contain your photo gear, good material to protect it, comfort.
Then there are backpacks suitable for different needs and situations.
For example, my f-stop Ajna photo bag is 40 L in size and great for travels by airplane if you want to travel with hand luggage without any problems.
I also found it very convenient for hiking in the mountains. I have the problem that my upper back hurts depending on the shape of the backpack, so I have changed several over the years. Ajna performed pretty well, I just needed to adjust the straps well.

f-stop Camera Bags photo gear

For short photo sessions I also use the Dyota 11L f-stop. I often use it when I just have to fly the drone or go out for a short shooting session where I know exactly which optics I will use.
During my last travels I have brought both Ajna and Dyota, also to distribute the weights between optics, camera, drone and accessories.
My next purchase will be a larger backpack for long hikes in the mountains, especially when I make stops in shelters and in addition to the photo gear I also have to include a sleeping bag and spare clothes. For these situations I have always used an Osprey Aura 65 L and a Tenba insert, but I would like to try something else f-stop, such as a Shinn 80 L or Sukha 70 L.

Other gear: photo Filters

I use filters, even if they are not my must for every shot.

Now that I have lenses that support circular filters, I always use those. Haida’s magnetic round filters are very easy to mount and, since I have them, I use the filters even more often. They attach to the holder ring, already screwed onto the lens, in a very simple way and the kit that was provided to me also includes a lens cap matching with the ring.

In a future post I will review them together with Haida’s M10 holder (which is a more traditional holder) and tell you what I think, even if you can already understand how would opt for round magnetic filters for life.

Haida magnetic circular filter photo gear


I have focused so much on landscape photos taken from the ground that I am only now beginning to explore the altitude! Although, to tell you the truth, I’ve always had the Mavic Pro I since 2017. I’ve always used it little, perhaps because I’m very obsessed with the quality of the camera and wasn’t very happy with its backlight management. With the Mavic Pro 2, I started to change my mind. I like the backlight handling much more, although I would like to see if the colors are even better managed in the new Mavic 3. Other Mavic users told me yes, but I hope to test it firsthand in the future.

Other Photo gear

Lens cloth

There are other small accessories that are never missing in my backpack during photo journeys and travels!
There is never a shortage of lens cloths and these are absolutely necessary. It always happens that the lens gets dirty, especially when it rains, snows or we photograph waterfalls. They don’t take up much space, so it’s not a problem to bring some. I do not use a particular brand, as I have collected several during the various photo events or received as a gift. Someday I would like to create some custom ones with my landscapes, that would be nice!

Air blower and sensor cleaning kit

Obviously I don’t use the kit to clean the sensor during the shooting session, even if it is always in the bag. On the other hand, I think it’s very important to use the air blower.

It often happens that the dust ends up on the sensor when I change the lens. Using the air blower I prevent dust from remaining on the sensor during shooting.

L-plate fot the tripod

When we take vertical format pictures, happens that the screw of the normal plate unscrews for the weight of the photo gear (camera, lens) on the tripod. The consequence is that the shots are blur and it’s really annoying when we try to force the camera to stay still.

The solution to this problem is the L-plate. When I wish to make vertical format pictures I just turn the camera and attach it to the arca swiss tripod head. Not all the tripods have the arca swiss system, so you need to check which l-plate is compatible with your tripod.

I personally use an universal arca-swiss l-plate but I’m going to buy the Really Right Stuff l-plate for Hasselblad X1D.

Isabella Tabacchi Landscape Photographer Landscape Photography



Isabella Tabacchi is an award-winning landscape photographer based in the north of Italy.

Despite her young age, she is is one of the most influential landscape photographers.

She is Hasselblad Heroine, MIFA Photographer of the Year 2020 and won the third prize as International Landscape Photographer of The Year.



Continua a leggere