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