Ask any photographer around and you will get the same answer – perfect lighting is the most important aspect in photography. It doesn’t matter if you have the latest and the most expensive camera if you don’t know how to play with light. This is even more true if you’re into landscape photography.
Most amateurs underestimate the amount of skill needed in landscape photography. You see, when you take photographs of landscapes, you don’t have lights that you can set up and adjust according to your needs. The only type of lighting that you have is natural light or the light you get from the sun. Another thing that you need to understand is you can’t rely on photo editing software programs to add drama to your shots. Otherwise, it would look fake. The key to becoming an expert in the field of landscape photography is being able to take dramatic raw photos of your subject. Here are a few of my trade secrets:
1. Study your chosen location
Before you start snapping away, make sure to do some research on your chosen location. Use the internet to your advantage by looking up photography blogs that have already featured that spot. Most photography blogger give bits of information regarding the location which includes a description of the lighting condition. If you’re lucky, you may even come across tips on how you can work the natural lighting to your advantage.
2. Do an ocular inspection
If your chosen location is only a few stone throws away, make an effort to do an ocular inspection at the exact same time you are thinking of doing the shoot. You can even bring your camera with you so you can do a few test shot shots which you can study once you get home.
On the other hand if it is a destination shoot, I highly recommend you arrive a day or two before the scheduled session so you can pay the area a visit ahead of time. It may seem like a waste of time but it will actually save your more time, energy, and resources if you already have a plan of action before you officially start shooting at a location.
3. The Golden Hour
The Golden Hour is what photographers call the times of the day when the lighting is perfect – dawn and dusk. More often than not, the lighting between sunrise and sunset is too harsh and flat. This results to washed out photographs and we all know that nobody wants to look at those. Of course, there are locations that give photographer the opportunity to shoot perfect landscape photos no matter what time it is. This is why it is important to do some scouting before the official schedule of your shoot – so you know how the lighting is during certain times of the day.
However, keep in mind that you are at the mercy of Mother Nature. No amount of research and planning can bring out the perfect light is nature doesn’t want to give it you. But don’t give up. Some of the best landscape photographs were taken at the least expected moment during days when it seemed like the light was just not in the photographer’s corner.