I recently started thinking about what makes a landscape photograph into a piece of art. It's very easy now-a-days to take out your phone and snap a picture of something, but why is it that when you look at your photo later you think it's boring? Most people blame the gear they use, but that's not ever the case. Especially when the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest photographer, Anuar Patjane, shot it with a point-and-shoot, the Sony RX100.
When it comes to taking/editing your photos, there are many different factors to take into consideration. Obviously things like composition matter greatly, but one of the most important things (to me at least) is seeing different sharpness levels. Let me give you an example...
During fall last year I saw a beautiful tree with leaves in over 10 different colors. The tree dramatically stood out amongst all the trees around it whose leaves were still green for the most part. There was a beautiful mountain in the distance so I went with a large F-Stop to try and capture as much as I saw. When I looked at the photograph later, it was really boring. The tree that stood out to me before just blended into the trees around it and the mountain looked like a hill compared to what I saw with my own eyes. I realized that everything in the photo was in focus so my eyes didn't know where to look and that's really not a good thing.
Look at some of your favorite photographs and see where your eyes go. Typically your eyes get drawn to the sharpest object a.k.a the object most in focus. The way I look at it is: Objects that are out of focus create the scene for the objects most in focus.
If the tree I was trying to shoot was sharp and the tree line behind it started getting softer as it reached the mountain, I would have had a much better shot in my opinion. That's not to say you should always have a small depth of field, but always try and figure out what you want the viewer to look at and go from there.