The wide eerie expanse of the desert holds mystery and promise to a photographer with a keen eye. There is some great desert photography with amazing composition out there. This means it is possible for you to capture the ancient secrets of the desert in a photo. We’ve collected the 7 best tips for capturing the stunning desert scenery around you.

Desert Photography Tip #1
Come armed with the right gear

Specialized photography instruments are essential for landscape photography. Here are a few pieces that you will need to make your landscape photography in the desert successful.

#1 Tripod

You will more often than not, be using long exposure when taking desert photos. This is because your subject will mostly involve the sun setting or will happen at night to create intrigue. A tripod steadies your camera enough to take photos without blur that may result from camera shakes.

If you are working with a good smartphone, there are also tripods designed for holding your phone steady.

#2 Lenses

When it comes to lenses, nothing is set in stone. You can carry along both wide angles and telephoto lens. Having access to both options will open up more opportunities and ensure that you can take more professional shots. You will be able to take scenic and fascinating as well as compressed images.

#3 Filters and a lens hood

Filters will be useful for the protection of your lenses. A UV filter will ensure your lenses are protected from sand – which of course you are likely to encounter in the desert. The desert’s bright light could otherwise ruin your shots. A Neutral Density filter helps against this! A polarizer will come in handy when you need to darken the light blue skies so that you have the skies in a darker and photography rich shade.

Desert Photography Tip #2
Lighting is everything… Obviously!

As you might expect, the golden hour rule applies here too. You want to avoid the scorching midday sun as it will give you hell adjusting your camera settings (not to mention adjusting o the extreme temperatures). In the morning and evening, the sun is close to the horizon giving room for perfect sunrise and sunset shots.

Remember your aim is to create and capture patterns of the sand. To do this, avoid shooting directly into the sun. Instead, have your back facing the sun to create shadows of the desert landscape.

Desert Photography Tip #3
Pay attention to details

Desert Photography
Maybe you’re thinking… “what details?” The desert has so much action going on (besides sand and sun) that often goes unnoticed. Take for example the unique vegetation and rocks found in the area. Sand dunes are always a sight to behold, especially combined with some detail like footprints to tell a story. Speaking of, you can easily tell stories of the desert by including animals like camels as well as including people in your shots. Notice things that stand out like a road in the desert. Try including your car in the shot especially on those calm days where nothing stands out or dunes haven’t formed. The whole idea is to be creative and have an eye for special features.

Desert Photography Tip #4
Change your perspective

Composition is another important aspect for desert photography. You don’t want to end up with lots of “empty space” in your shots. To get composition right the first time around, you need to take your photos from the right angles. For instance, getting low while capturing a wide angle will give you the opportunity of capturing excellent foreground desert scenery in your shots. You can also use a telephoto lens if you want to capture distant objects such as desert mountains.

If you are interested in getting fascinating panoramic shots, a slightly higher ground will provide for this. You will have a bonus of covering the hills and valleys with the raised posture.

Desert Photography Tip #5
Incorporate the sky

Desert Photography
Another great subject for you while in the desert is the sky. With no buildings, cables or any other clutter distracting your shots, incorporating the sky in your shots creates stunning photos. A polarizing effect will render the sky as a deep and rich shade, so go ahead and use the right polarizer. While doing so, be careful not to illuminate one part of the sky while leaving another bit darker. You can avoid this by taking shots that are not angled.

Desert Photography Tip #6
Give HDR a try

Desert Photography
A dynamic photograph style is good for a dynamic scene such as the desert. High Dynamic Range photography is essential here as it will illuminate your photos accurately. This is particularly good for deep canyons that might form dark shadows in your shots.

You can start by taking 4-8 shots at different exposures while changing the shutter speed. Don’t bother too much with altering the ISO and aperture as it might immensely affect the depth of field and noise in your shots. Try and be constant in your shots and remember that the aim is to come up with realistic shots. So don’t get carried away in HDR mode.

Desert Photography Tip #7
Get ready to be nocturnal

Desert Photography
For one, the desert scenery is absolutely stunning at night! Better yet, you get to use natural light when taking your photos and you can escape the scorching sun. You get to include the breathtaking desert night sky in your shots, and if you a lucky, you might catch a shooting star or two. If you can, get there right after sunset when it’s not too dark but neither is the sun present. The sky is usually a sight to behold. You can time different phases of the moon as well. Once more, you will require long exposure so come armed with a tripod.

Happy photographing!

If you’re not done getting your photography skills up to scratch, take a look at some of these articles…

Flat Lay Ideas: How to Set Up & Photograph Scenes

7 Top Tips to Improve Your Winter Photography

Indoor Photoshoot Ideas to Get Your Imagination Flowing While You #StayHome

The Ultimate Travel Photography Guide: From Beginner to Advanced (Part I)

The Ultimate Travel Photography Guide: From Beginner to Advanced (Part II)


Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?

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