Analyze and evaluate your own land­scape images

Do you know this situa­tion? You were out and about and took photos. You come home full of euphoria, show the pictures to your friends and acquain­tances or post them on Insta­gram. But then you realize that hardly anyone shares your enthu­siasm about your pictures. Why is that? The ability to pick out the best pictures from a series of images is one of the key skills of photo­graphers. How can you learn this, what can you look out for, what are possible criteria? Read about it here in the blog. 

If you don’t feel like reading, you can find the VLOG to the BLOG at the bottom of this page. You can access it directly via this button:


Sony a7IV
Sony FE 2.8/16–35 mm GM
Sony FE 4/24–105 mm G OSS
Sony FE 100–400 mm GM
DJI Mini 3 Pro

How do I know if my photo is good or not?

Maybe you know this situa­tion. You’ve been out and about, taken some photos and you’ve managed to capture a lot. You come home full of euphoria, show the pictures to your friends and acquain­tances or post them on Insta­gram. But then you realize that hardly anyone shares your enthu­siasm about your pictures. After a few weeks or months, you are no longer as convinced as you were on the first day. Why is that?

Even though it is now easier than ever to operate a camera and take a picture, it has not become any easier to reco­gnize the most convin­cing images among all the shots. On the contrary, the increased number of images made possible by digital tech­no­logy actually makes this more diffi­cult. The pile of digital files is growing imme­a­sur­ably and the number of good photos is dwind­ling in comparison.

However, the ability to pick out the best pictures from a series of images is one of the key skills that sets photo­graphers apart from other photo­graphers. How can you learn this, what can you look out for, what are possible criteria? That’s what this blog is about.

Erstes Licht am Krip­pen­stein | Sony a7IV + Sony FE 2.8/16–35 mm GM

Evalua­tion of photography

For many of us, choo­sing our most compel­ling images is a diffi­cult task that requires pati­ence, open-minded­ness and thought. Even the most expe­ri­enced photo­graphers have to break down blocks that prevent them from seeing their photos clearly, because no two shots are the same.

First things first. An evalua­tion, an analysis or even the cura­tion of a photo or photo­gra­phic work can never be one hundred percent objec­tive. This is also the reason why a team of judges is always used in large photo compe­ti­tions and normally never a single photo­grapher. But I will go into this in more detail later.

What levels of conside­ra­tion are there, apart from the purely technical?

There are several levels on which to view and evaluate a photo­graph. The purely tech­nical. For example, is the subject in focus, does the depth of field or the expo­sure time match the desired image effect or result. Here, a certain amount of blur­ring may well be desired by the photo­grapher. In land­scape photo­graphy, however, we usually aim for sharp photos. Excep­tions such as ICM photo­graphy or making move­ment or wind visible are of course excep­tions. Also the crea­tive play with depth of field. Begin­ners often concen­trate very strongly on these tech­nical aspects in particular.

More important than these purely tech­nical aspects are the content aspects. At least for most viewers who did not take the photo them­selves. In many compe­ti­tions, tech­ni­cally correct execu­tion is the minimum requi­re­ment for parti­ci­pa­tion and further conside­ra­tion of the images by the jury. However, content-related aspects in compe­ti­tions will gradu­ally bring you onto the short­list and possibly one or two selec­tion rounds further.

Content level

Now, what are aspects of content and how can I analyze my photo­graphy in this respect?

Terry Barrett, an American art critic who specia­lizes in the analysis of photo­graphs, has summa­rized this in a formula:

Topic + design + medium + context = content

I would like to briefly break down the 5 points for you.


First of all, we take a sober look at “What is depicted, what can be seen?”. This can be a main motif or several picture elements that are more or less connected to each other. The edges of the picture should also be considered, as well as the ques­tion of “What is not visible?” or “What may have been deli­bera­tely placed outside the frame of the photo?” are ques­tions that can be asked here.


When desig­ning, we look at the “How has the photo been executed or cons­tructed?” We can consciously look for compo­si­tional picture elements. Are there patterns, diago­nals, trian­gles, leading lines and so on? Has the rule of thirds or the golden ratio been used? Where is the motif placed, where are other elements? Is there a classic layer struc­ture or has the fore­ground been deli­bera­tely omitted, for example? All of this can be rele­vant to the content of the photo.


On the one hand, the medium can be the recor­ding medium, i.e. “What means and methods were used?” and on the other hand the presen­ta­tion media, i.e. “What are the photos displayed or executed with?”. Which camera, lenses were possibly used, if this is known. Which focal length can usually be roughly esti­mated. Was it shot digi­tally or on film? Where does the presen­ta­tion take place — in a maga­zine, illus­trated book, on a website, at a lecture on a projector, printed on artistic paper? In many compe­ti­tions, the presen­ta­tion medium is of course omitted, as a very specific data format, reso­lu­tion, etc. are usually prescribed.

Just as an aside, I would like to mention that today, unfort­u­na­tely, images are often mainly presented and photo­gra­phed for Insta­gram, where they have to adhere to a certain format and can usually only be seen on small screens on cell phones. This in turn requires diffe­rent criteria from the photo­grapher when taking the picture. Whether this is good or bad is open to debate. But that’s going too far at this point. I think you shouldn’t let it influence your own photo­graphy too much.


We then look at the condi­tions or circum­s­tances under which the photo was taken. Is there a story behind it? What was the photographer’s inten­tion? A photo­graph can also be shaped by influences of the photo­grapher that go beyond his inten­tion and conscious atten­tion. In other words, he was not even aware of it when he took and edited the picture.

Minor White once said appro­pria­tely: “Photo­graphers often take better pictures than they realize.”


The points mentioned above now lead to the inter­pre­ta­tion of the content, i.e. “What story does the photo tell?”. When looking at the motif, design, medium and context of the photo, conclu­sions are drawn about the content of the photo. The visual repre­sen­ta­tion can be expressed in words, so to speak. We often reco­gnize the meaning of a photo intui­tively. But if we take the time to analyze the photo, it will often give us more insight into the photo itself and what the photo or photo­grapher is trying to express. Lear­ning to analyze photos will ulti­m­ately help us to take photos. Under­stan­ding the visual language is just as important for crea­ting a photo as analy­zing the finished photo.

Not every photo contains complex content. Land­scape photo­graphy in parti­cular is rarely about very specific content. But we’ll come to that in a moment.

Edwart Weston, for example, main­tained that an object can only be photo­gra­phed for its own sake. Minor White claimed that you could photo­graph an object for its own sake, but that you could also record and inter­pret what else might be behind the object. And Alfred Stieg­litz believed that you could photo­graph an object with the inten­tion of trig­ge­ring an emotional response.

Regard­less of what level of analysis the photo­grapher or viewer is aiming for, it is clear that deve­lo­ping visual literacy will reward us with a richer expe­ri­ence when crea­ting and viewing photographs.

This also makes it clear that the story that may be inter­preted in a photo is also shaped by the person looking at it. Subjec­tive perspec­tives, expe­ri­ences, one’s own world view and values natu­rally lead to diffe­rent inter­pre­ta­tions. And ther­e­fore also evoke diffe­rent emotions.

Inter­mezzo | Sony a7IV + Sony FE 4/24–105 mm G OSS

This and all other shots of this post you can request under “Prints” as an art print for your wall at home directly from me. 

Emotional level

This brings us to a third point, in addi­tion to the purely tech­nical and content-related aspects, the emotional aspects. All of us, other­wise we would probably not pursue this hobby, are largely moti­vated by a passion, so it is a parti­cular chall­enge to over­come our subjec­ti­vity to deter­mine which photos are the strongest.

Espe­ci­ally in land­scape photo­graphy, which is very much depen­dent on the seasons, times of day and weather, the content of the photo­graph is more a kind of reflec­tion of the character or magic of a place in special light or special weather, coupled with the photographer’s point of view. In land­scape photo­graphy, we convey a mood rather than a specific state­ment. We ther­e­fore try to arouse the inte­rest of the viewers of our photos even more on an emotional level.

Of course, there are also fluid tran­si­tions here and in land­scape photo­graphy, there are also those who make docu­men­tary, aesthetic or distur­bing state­ments with their photos, for example by depic­ting the changes in nature caused by human influences.

By the way, emotions are purely subjec­tive, but as already mentioned, I consider a purely objec­tive view to be almost utopian. That’s why diffe­rent stan­dards will always be neces­sary and applied for docu­men­tary or repor­tage photo­graphy than for land­scape photo­graphy. This is due to the diffe­rences between the genres. A photo compe­ti­tion that does not sepa­rate such genres from one another is dubious in my eyes. Pictures from diffe­rent genres cannot, or at least can hardly, be compared with each other.

We’ll get to the topic of “Rating your own land­scape photos” in a moment, but first I’d like to ask you to give it a thumbs up if you’ve already enjoyed it so far and have learned something.Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel if you haven’t already!Every single subscriber really means a lot to me, thank you all so much!

Zum Thema „Bewer­tung der eigenen Land­schafts­fotos“ kommen wir gleich, aber vorher möchte ich euch bitten, einen Daumen hoch zu geben, wenn es euch bisher gefallen hat und ihr etwas gelernt habt, und vergesst nicht, meinen Kanal zu abon­nieren, falls ihr das noch nicht getan habt.

Sand­strand von San Teodoro | DJ Mini 3 Pro (Panorama)

Evalua­tion of your own land­scape photos

Hard criteria

In order to be able to look at our own photos more objec­tively, we must at least try to detach ourselves from the emotions that are undoub­tedly burned into our natural hard disk up here. That alone is diffi­cult. That’s why we try to analyze our own pictures accor­ding to certain criteria. But even with the help of these, indi­vi­dual prefe­rences and aesthetic prefe­rences remain. Always be aware of this, even if you comment on or “rate” other people’s pictures on social media.

The easiest are what I call the “hard criteria”. Image compo­si­tion, expo­sure, sharp­ness, perspec­tive, etc. These points can still be assessed quite simply on the basis of the facts.

Image compo­si­tion

Try to be clear about the arran­ge­ment of the elements in the picture if you have not already done so when taking the picture. Are they in visual balance? Do you see patterns, lines or similar? Where is the viewer’s gaze directed?


Was the expo­sure correct? Are there any burnt-out areas or areas that are too dark and can no longer be saved? Anything you can still capture with post-proces­sing should be okay for now.

Sharp­ness and focus

The subject must be sharp and in focus in all cases. Depen­ding on the image compo­si­tion, check the sharp­ness from the front to the back of the image. Images with blur­ring and unin­ten­tional out of focus can be discarded immediately.

Farben und Kontraste

Wo sind die stärksten Kontraste im Bild? Wo der hellst, wo der dunkelste Fleck? Hat dies Einfluss auf den Betrach­tungs­fluss? Der Mensch schaut unwei­ger­lich zu den hellsten Flecken, oder denen mit den größten Kontrasten. Nutzt das, um den Blick zu lenken. Welche Farben sind vorhanden? Wie stehen sie in Bezie­hung? Komple­mentär, Mono­tonal, etc.


Hat die Höhe, Neigung, der Kamera gepasst? Auch die Brenn­weite? Allein mit diesen 3 Para­me­tern kannst du so viele unter­schied­liche Bilder aufnehmen. Wenn du hiermit expe­ri­men­tierst und später am Bild­schirm analy­sierst, kannst du viel Lernen. Wählt von einem Motiv oder Szene nur das eine Bild, in der euch die Perspek­tive am besten gepasst hat.

Unique­ness and originality

Ich denke das ist immer ein Ziel für Foto­grafen, den eigenen Stil und die eigene krea­tive Note in Bilder einzu­bringen. Wir alle wollen einzig­ar­tige Land­schaften und seltene Momente fest­zu­halten. Gerade bei ganz bekannten Loca­tions gibt es häufig die eine Kompo­si­tion, für die sie bekannt ist, aber wenn ihr das Bild gemacht habt, versucht auch euer eigenes Ding. Versucht eure Krea­ti­vität heraus­zu­for­dern. Bewertet zu Hause in Ruhe ob euer Shot nicht viel­leicht sogar mehr euer Tun oder euren Stil wider­spie­gelt. Wenn eine Aufnahme dabei ist, die nicht den Stan­dard-Shot zeigt, sondern das Motiv auf eure eigenen beson­dere Art und Weise zeigt, dann wählt die aus und über­rascht die Betrachter.

Geheimnis von Gollingen | Sony a7 IV + Sony FE 2.8/16–35 mm GM

Soft criteria

Some­what more diffi­cult to clas­sify, espe­ci­ally if you have to force yourself to remain objec­tive, are softer criteria, such as image state­ment & inten­tion, to evaluate your pictures.

Image state­ment

Ask yourself what message or emotion you want to or will convey with your picture. As already mentioned, a strong image state­ment or conveyed emotion can arouse the viewer’s inte­rest. As an exer­cise: google diffe­rent emotions and feelings and create them as a keyword list in Ligh­t­room. Then try to tag your images with at least one emotion each. If you can’t define an emotion for an image, then it may be emoti­on­less and will probably come across as such to the viewer.


You should always go photo­gra­phing with a certain inten­tion or certain motives and be clear about these yourself.

When photo­gra­phing, it is important to have a certain under­stan­ding of what you are looking at, what your goal is, why you want to photo­graph this or that. You can change this inten­tion if neces­sary. If an idea doesn’t work at the time of photo­gra­phing, then you can and should change it.

How often do I set off with an idea or a target photo in mind and end up doing some­thing comple­tely diffe­rent, or come home with comple­tely diffe­rent results to what I had hoped for, because it was a better fit? You should under­stand that this is comple­tely fine.

Als Beispiel dazu. Schon einige Male, war ich enttäuscht, weil ich nicht das umsetzen konnte, was ich geplant hatte und habe Bilder auf der Fest­platte förm­lich vergessen. Unzu­frieden impor­tiert, enttäuscht vom vermeint­lich miss­lun­genen Vorhaben, einfach mit anderen Dingen weiter­ge­macht. Nach Wochen oder Monaten dann, nach dem die nega­tiven Emotionen keine Rolle mehr spielten wieder­ent­deckt, bear­beitet und Ergeb­nisse erhalten, die nicht selten auch im Port­folio landeten.

Things don’t always go accor­ding to plan. But if you get involved while you’re taking the photos, you’ll end up looking at them from a slightly diffe­rent perspec­tive when you get home. Photo­graphy is a process and in order to stay true to this process, you have to trust that the wind will some­times guide you.

When you’re back home from a photo tour and you look at the pictures you’ve taken, you first have to find your pictures and let them tell you what you’ve seen.

Kiefer an der Klippe | Sony a7 IV + Sony FE 100–400 mm GM


I hope you can now look at your photos more objec­tively and find a work­flow for yourself on how you can use these aspects and criteria to filter out your best images from your catalog of possibly thou­sands of images. Feel free to comment below the video on what in parti­cular has now become clearer, or whether you are perhaps already using it in a very similar way! Or what other points you are conside­ring! I would be really inte­rested to hear that.

Finally, I’ll give you a brief outline of my work­flow for cura­ting photos.

Bonus: Cura­ting your own photos — workflow

  1. Selec­tion
    Go through your images and select those that meet your quality stan­dards and fulfill the criteria mentioned (compo­si­tion, expo­sure, sharp­ness, etc.) Avoid selec­ting similar or repe­ti­tive images.
  2. Tell a story
    Think about how you can combine the selected images into a story or series. A coherent coll­ec­tion can streng­then the overall picture.
  3. Image proces­sing
    Edit the selected images to opti­mize colors, contrasts and other aspects. But don’t overdo it with filters or effects to preserve the authen­ti­city of the landscape.
  4. Presen­ta­tion
    Think about the best way to present your pictures. This could be in the form of a photo book series, an exhi­bi­tion, a digital gallery or on your own website. Some­times this point can already be clear as point 1 in advance, which may simplify the selec­tion of images.
  5. Get feed­back
    Let other people, espe­ci­ally photo­graphy enthu­si­asts or experts, view your curated coll­ec­tion and ask for feedback.
  6. Conti­nuous impro­ve­ment
    Cura­ting your own photos is a constantly evol­ving process. Learn from feed­back, analyze viewer reac­tions and work on impro­ving your photo­graphy skills.

Cura­ting your own land­scape images takes time, pati­ence and self-criti­cism. However, it’s a great way to show­case your best work and develop as a photo­grapher. So give it a try, with friends/acquaintances or other photo enthu­si­asts, perhaps in a photo club.

VLOG to the BLOG

Today I have a topic that should be of inte­rest even to very expe­ri­enced photo­graphers. It’s about evalua­ting photo­graphy, inclu­ding your own, as objec­tively as possible. I’ll also give you some tips on cura­ting your own photos for your own photo exhi­bi­tions, for example. Have fun watching!

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