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Landscape Photography - Of Hours and Opportunities

Sunlight at different times of the day has different properties. Light during sunrise and sunset have a yellow tint to it and so it tends to warm up subjects. And light just before sunrise and just after sunset is very soft light as it is the light which is reflected off the clouds on to earth and not direct sunlight. Light during high noon is usually harsh and it falls at a very sharp angle either eliminating shadows or casting very little shadows. This difference in the properties of light totally transforms the same scene when shot during different times of the day.

Landscape Photography
Photo By Raymond Larose

Twilight Hours are Magic Hours

In photography early morning and early evening time is generally referred to as the golden hours. The reason for calling it the golden hours is that during that time sunlight falls on to earth from a very low angle. As it is falling at a low angle it has to cover more distance through the atmosphere before it reaches the earth and in the process rays of shorter wave lengths get scattered and only rays that have longer wave lengths reach the earth. This is why shots taken during the golden hours of photography appear warm and seem to have a golden hue to them. It is not only the colour of the light that is different during these hours but also the way it affects the texture of the scenery. Light during twilight hours cast long shadows and thereby creating areas of light and shade in the landscape adding texture to it.

Landscape Photography
Photo By Jose Ramon

Harsh Mid day Light Can be Tricky

During midday the sunlight is at its maximum power and it comes straight down almost at 90 degree angle. Such strong light makes subjects appear blown out and white with little detail. And landscapes are no different. Landscape shots taken during midday will mostly have blown out skies making them unattractive and for this reason most people prefer not to shoot landscapes during midday.

Landscape Photography
Photo By Paolo Margari

The midday lighting condition could be used in your favor to shoot stark high contrast black and white images. This lighting is also good for bringing out the textures of mountainsides, rock-faces and such other vertical subjects.

Sunrise and Sunset Create Drama

Mastering landscape photography requires capability to harness the quality of light at various hours of the day. To shoot sunrise or sunset it is better to switch from auto white balance setting and choose either cloudy or shade mode, they complement the golden light. You need to be quick with your framing and composition as you will only get 15 – 20 minutes of prime lighting. It is a good idea to keep your horizon at the lower one third of the frame while shooting sunrise or sunsets but it is only a guideline and not a rule. Experiment with different settings, shoot some silhouettes, and find what works for you

Landscape Photography
Photo By Marcos Vasconcelos

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