If you can’t get it right, your photos will never look their best, no matter how beautiful is the landscape you’re trying to capture. Even the most breathtaking landscape is, at a technical level, nothing more than light falling on your camera sensor.
Light is also one of the crucial factors when it comes to the emotional impact of your landscapes. If you want to emphasize the drama of a landscape, you need to look for high-contrast light. On the other hand, if you’re after an ethereal quality, you should look for subdued colors and softer shadows.
In this guide, we’re going to cover four basic situations in terms of light in landscapes – golden hour, blue hour, midday and night. Each of these scenarios requires different settings and different gear, so make sure to understand these differences and make good choices in terms of the equipment you’ll bring on location.
Probably everyone has heard about the famous golden hour! It’s the time of day around sunrise and sunset. The golden hour is the best time for landscape photography because of the nature of the light at this time of day. The sun is near the horizon, which means that the intensity of direct sunlight is reduced. The low angle of the sun, diffused light and those warm hues in the sky make even everyday scenes more magical.
If you’re new to landscape photography, you can use The Golden Hour Calculator. This is the online calculator which will help you find out the exact time of the golden hour so that you can plan your shoot. Magical light of the golden hour can last just a few minutes, so it’s easy to miss it if you’re not prepared. In addition to this calculator, there is another similar program called The Photographers’ Ephemeris. This program displays sunrise and sunset times depending on a chosen location and it can be very useful too.