Recognising good photography light for landscapes is sometimes confusing for beginners. I mean, midday or early afternoon with clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine is when scenery looks fantastic, doesn’t it? It’s easy to think this might be a good time to take a picture?
The Camera Can’t See What We Can See
In fact, in most cases this turns out to be the worst time to photograph landscapes. Reason being, our cameras don’t cope well with the strong contrast between the sun-kissed glare and shadows that midday sunlight creates.
When the sun is lower in the sky these contrasts are more gentle. This allows cameras to cope better and capture an even balance of bright parts (sky, white buildings, clouds etc) and the darker areas (trees, rocks, etc.)
When it comes to landscape photography tips an easy method I use to help me recognise good light is to look for shadows. Let me explain.
Landscape Photography Tips
Preferred conditions for capturing most outdoor scenes (landscapes, architecture, street scenes, etc) is early mornings or late afternoons. Identify the right shadows and chances are you have good light conditions. But what are good shadows?
Longer shadows that fall away from objects are generally going to be better, it automatically means the sun is lower in the sky.
Sharp edges on the shadow is good, it indicates sunlight without cloud interference.
Position and direction is important.
You don’t normally want the shadows falling towards you; from where you point the camera they should fall in any direction away in an arc from hard left all the way around to hard right.
Shadows also add depth and texture, compensating for the ‘flat’ 2D effect we get with photographs.
There are many more landscape photography tips but ‘shadows’ is my top tip.
I’ve included examples here, with camera settings for fellow nerds who find this data useful.
Breaking The Photography Rules
Remember though, landscape photography tips are always just that, tips – keep your mind (and eye) open for the creative moment where you need to do the complete opposite to convention. Harsh midday sun might suit the look you’re shooting or the shadows that fall straight toward you could work perfectly in a particular situation.
Here’s another article you might find useful, from another site, for some extra reading about landscape photography.
That’s enough theory, now go outdoors and practise!