Follow the sun
James Paterson explains how to chart the position of the sun to give your landscapes the edge
Use an app to predict exactly where and when the sun will rise or set on a landscape, so you can find the perfect angle to shoot every scene
Photography is all about light: its direction, angle, quality and strength. Scenes can look very different under varied lighting conditions and, as any landscape photographer knows, the most attractive natural light occurs at the start and end of the day. Not only does the low angle of the sun create pockets of light and shade that reveal the contours of a landscape, its rays have to pass through more of the earth’s atmosphere, causing the light to take on the warm qualities that result in vibrant sunrises and sunsets.
If you can work out how the light will behave in advance, you’ll have a huge advantage when shooting landscapes. This is where technology can help. With a smartphone, all the information you need is at your fingertips. In the last few years several apps have been developed specifically for this purpose, including the excellent PhotoPills. It’s possible to chart the trajectory of the sun with such precision that you can even predict exactly where it will appear in your composition. Here we’ll use PhotoPills along with other planning tools to work out exactly where the sun will rise. With smart tools like this, we can predict the angle of the sun and determine the most vibrant part of the sky long before going out to shoot it.
If you can work out how the light will behave in advance, you’ll have a huge advantage