Light is the raw ma­te­rial of pho­tog­ra­phy, which shapes and de­fines the land­scape

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

As a land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher, you need an un­der­stand­ing of the nu­ances of dif­fer­ent light­ing con­di­tions and how they can af­fect your cho­sen sub­ject. The main fac­tors to con­sider are the di­rec­tion and qual­ity of light, as these shape the sub­ject and cre­ate the mood of the im­age. To suc­cess­fully shoot land­scapes, you need to know what will best suit your sub­ject and then plan ac­cord­ingly.

Ru­ral land­scapes, par­tic­u­larly those with ranges of hills or moun­tains, re­ally ben­e­fit from low side light­ing, which re­veals shape and tex­ture, as well as adding depth; ar­chi­tec­tural sub­jects and coastal scenes with fore­ground in­ter­est also of­ten look good in this light.

Back­light­ing can be very dra­matic, with shad­ows rac­ing to­wards the cam­era, em­pha­sis­ing shape and form. It works es­pe­cially well with com­po­si­tions based around bold, graphic sub­jects and is well suited to wood­land scenes; you can also try sil­hou­et­ting the main sub­ject.

Front light­ing, pro­duc­ing shad­ows that fall away from the cam­era, can make a scene ap­pear flat and dull. How­ever, with the sun low in the sky, it can pro­vide ex­cel­lent colour sat­u­ra­tion; look for colour­ful sub­jects, or those that will re­flect the nat­u­ral warm tones of the sun, such as sand­stone cliffs.

The least pho­to­genic light is strong, over­head light­ing, with high con­trast and harsh shad­ows. If shoot­ing in these con­di­tions, colour­ful, struc­tural sub­jects can work well, as can mono­chrome im­ages. The qual­ity of light re­ally means its in­ten­sity and colour tem­per­a­ture. The fac­tors that de­ter­mine this are the

time of day, sea­son and weather. So the colour tem­per­a­ture is warm at the be­gin­ning and end of the day and cool at twi­light; the light is harsher in sum­mer when the sun is high in the sky, and there is greater clar­ity in win­ter when there is more mois­ture in the at­mos­phere.

How­ever, to achieve the most eye-catch­ing re­sults, it’s best to try and shoot ‘on the edge’ – dur­ing the tran­si­tion from one state to an­other. For ex­am­ple, this can be the tran­si­tion from night to day, from one sea­son to an­other, from calm to stormy weather and so on. These mo­ments can make for very pow­er­ful im­ages in­deed.

RightFRONT-LIT LAND­SCAPES Front light­ing is of­ten con­sid­ered unattrac­tive in land­scapes, but when the sun is low it can re­sult in highly sat­u­rated sub­jects with lots of im­pact

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