Every photographer knows the struggle that comes with determining once and for all what makes a truly great image. In fact, many people worry so much about nailing what makes a photograph good that they forget to anticipate elements that can make a photograph bad.

No worries if that sounds like you! Even the world’s best photographers had to deal with a bit of a learning curve before really hitting their stride. Here are a few things to watch out for that might be taking more away from your photographs than you realize.

  1. Your horizon is crooked.

Perhaps the absolute most distracting issue you can see in a photograph is a horizon that’s off-kilter. Even if it’s only off by a little bit, it can still absolutely ruin an otherwise good photo. That said, start paying special attention to whether or not you’re holding your camera straight. If your camera features a gridded viewfinder, definitely use it. It’s there to make your life easier.

Can’t see the actual horizon and want to make sure you’re capturing the image properly? Look for cues – like trees that are slanting diagonally – to clue you in.

Photography Crooked HorizonPhotography Crooked Horizon
  1. There’s a triangular shape or form in the corner of your image.

Make sure you watch your corners when taking photographs. Although it’s something of a subjective choice, many show judges and professionals consider triangular shapes in the corners of an image to be undesirable. In fact, if you’re competing or entering a contest, it’s likely that you’ll lose points for images that have them.

So what’s wrong with triangles? They can mess with the integrity of your composition and make it feel off-balance. They are also widely considered the mark of an amateur.

  1. Your sky is too clear.

As with the triangles, there are certainly situations here that are exceptions. However, you’ll want to avoid blank, featureless skies to the greatest extent possible. It can make an otherwise excellent photograph seem boring and bland.Look for clouds and other features to include, as they lend emotion and drama to your image. A blank, bland blue sky can actually be so boring that it’s distracting, so be careful. If you absolutely have zero choice, you can attempt shooting with a completely clear sky, but you should also seriously consider coming back on another day and taking another stab at things.

Clear Night Sky Photo
  1. You settled for bad lighting.

If there’s one thing that can pretty much be counted on to ruin even the most carefully orchestrated image, it’s terrible lighting. Bad lighting leads to blurry images, grainy finished products, and distracting visual noise at best.

Yes, it could be argued that a grainy image of something really spectacular is much better than no image at all. Even so, this is really something you’ll want to look out for. Far too many photographers – especially in the beginning – learn all too late that great lighting isn’t just a good idea, but a must.

In a nutshell, great landscape photography is largely about keeping your eyes open and learning to be hyper-aware of how your finished product will look under a given set of circumstances. You’ll get the hang of it before you know it. For more great landscape photography blogs and resources be sure to checkout the Top 75 Landscape Photography Blogs on Feedspot.