UNDERSTANDING “LIGHT” IN LANDSCAPES

seashore during nighttime
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Lighting in landscapes is a bit more complicated, and in this blog, I hope to clear up all the details of the different types of lighting, and how we can use the different types of lighting to help our landscape photos.

LIGHTING QUALITY AND DIRECTION

Landscape photographers talk about two essential lighting characteristics: the quality and the direction.

Lighting quality refers to the hardness or softness of the light, where soft light produces limited shadows and saturated colors, while hard light adds lots of contrast and heavy shadows.

And lighting direction refers to the direction at which the light strikes your subject. For instance, noontime sunlight hits the subject from above, evening sunlight hits the subject from the side, etc.

Generally, lighting quality is the bigger deal here. Because while it’s possible to experiment with different directions for beautiful results, if you fail to understand lighting quality, you’ll capture consistently mediocre (or just bad) photos.

At the same time, you should understand how to work with different lighting directions – it’s how you can add depth and dimension to your photos, for one – which is why I dedicate several sections to the topic.

REFLECTED LIGHT

Reflected light, also called bounced or diffused light, occurs when direct sunlight reflects off an adjacent surface. It can make for stunning photos, thanks to its soft, even, beautiful effect.

The canyons in the Southwest are perfect for this type of light, as the sun beams against the rocks and is reflected all around, creating a gorgeous warm glow:

landscape photography lighting Zion

To work with reflected light, you’ll generally need a bright surface such as pale rock walls, a white beach, etc. – otherwise, you’ll fail to get a nice reflection effect. You’ll also need bright sun, ideally toward the middle of the day.

OVERCAST LIGHT

foggy, overcast lighting Morro bay

Light on overcast and foggy days is soft, subdued, and bluish. Shadows are negligible, and light directionality essentially disappears.

While cloudy light can work great for landscape photos, thanks to the flattering, soft effect and lack of harsh shadows, you need to be careful; a cloudy sky tends to look boring, so do what you can to block it out with trees, mountains, and other landscape elements.

Cloudy days are also great for colorful landscape scenes, such as fields of flowers. The soft light evenly illuminates your subject and gives colors a subtle, saturated glow.

BACKLIGHT

Backlight refers to any light that comes from behind your subject, like this:

Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography

Note that you can have partial back-lighting, when the sun comes from roughly behind the subject, and you can have total back-lighting, when the sun beams out from directly behind the subject.

Back-lighting is a landscape photography favorite, especially when the sun is just above the horizon. Why? Back-lighting is dramatic, whether it’s combined with HDR effects (such as in the image above), or whether you use it to capture stunning silhouettes.

One tip: Pay careful attention to the position of the sun in your frame. You generally want to partially block the sun with a solid edge; that way, you can capture a beautiful sun-star. Alternatively, you can keep the sun out of the frame or position it behind a solid object, like a tree or a rock, to prevent a blown-out sky.

DIRECT LIGHT

Photo by Lanny Cottrell Photography

Direct light is strong, harsh, and very unforgiving; you can generally find it a few hours after sunrise to a few hours before sunset, though as the sun moves higher in the sky (i.e., closer to noon), the light becomes more direct and even less flattering.

Because direct light produces such a harsh effect, some landscape photographers avoid it completely.

MORNING AND EVENING LIGHT (GOLDEN HOURS):

Photo by Ankhurr Chawaak on Unsplash

For most good landscape photographers, this is their favorite time to photograph. The side-lighting from the sun creates such a dramatic effect, and then the warm glow that is created when the sun is at that angle, it just makes for beautiful photos.

OPEN SHADE

Open shade can be classified into two type of shade:

1- Shade caused by a lot of trees, buildings, etc. to create a natural shade. Some lighting may be inserted in this type of photo:

gray asphalt road surrounded by tall trees
Open shade: caused by trees, and buildings, etc. Very little light would be in this photo. ——–Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2- A cloudy day, and everything is under the shade of clouds. May not have any shadows because of this:

Sometimes right after a storm you will still have total cloud cover, no shadows, but, still can be very beautiful.

HUMAN MADE LIGHT:

light trails on highway at night
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Although, this is a landscape photo, the element of “human-made” lighting is inserted. This is totally a great photo, and the combination of the “man-made” lighting mixed with the ambient light, is a remarkable photo.

CONCLUSION

Now you have had the opportunity to study all the different types of lighting, in landscapes, now, when you go out to take landscape photos, study the light, and see how you can work the light to your advantage.



Sign in on the “newsletter” form above, so you can keep up to date with the latest in photography news.

Try the “search” below

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: SEPTEMBER, THE MONTH OF AUTUMN!

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

To most of the upper half of the world, we are just about to go into everyone’s favorite time of year: Autumn! The world is beautifully going into “DEAD”. That’s a crazy way to look at it, but, it is the preparation of winter, and the leaves on the trees, change color and give us the Autumn that we all love.

With that, let’s take a look at this wonderful collection of Autumn photos, that I think are winners. Check these out:

red leaf trees near the road
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
dirt road cover by dried leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
concrete road between trees
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com
landscape photography of trees
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
orange trees
Photo by 김 대정 on Pexels.com
photography of maple trees
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com
forest during day
Photo by Ian Beckley on Pexels.com

Would you take a moment and tell me if you like these weekly “Photos of the Week”? I would like to know if this is the highlight of your week, or would you prefer something else?
Photo by Lanny Cottrell
trees in autumn forest
Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com
tree with maple leaves
Photo by Valiphotos on Pexels.com
Photo by Lanny Cottrell – 123PhotoGo
maple leaves on water
Photo by Max Andrey on Pexels.com

autumn autumn leaves branch bright
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
house covered with red flowering plant
Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com
autumn hd wallpaper
Photo by Valiphotos on Pexels.com
autumn barn colorado colorful
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
ambience atmosphere autumn autumn leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
autumn trees
Photo by Valiphotos on Pexels.com

IF YOU HAVEN’T SIGNED UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER, PLEASE DO SO NOW! IT’S YOUR CHANCE FOR SOME SPECIAL OFFERS, COMING SOON:
house beside trees
Photo by David Frampton on Pexels.com
green and red leafed trees
Photo by Natalija Mislevicha on Pexels.com
scenic view of sky with rainbow
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com
Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash
Photo by Julia Solonina on Unsplash

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK:

photo of mountain under cloudy sky
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev on Pexels.com
This week’s photos of the week is a wonderful collection of “TRAVEL PHOTOS”, taken by photographers of places around the world. Perhaps you too, will find some place to go to, by the photos you see here today:
Photo by Mark Basarab on Unsplash
Taichi Bagua 特克斯县 – Photo taken by Zongnan Bao
mountainous valley with evergreen forest against misty sky
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com – EUROPE
antelope canyon
Photo by Paul IJsendoorn on Pexels.com – Slot Canyons, Zioins National Park, Utah
woman in green kimono standing near a river
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com – JAPAN
great wall of china
Photo by Paulo Marcelo Martins on Pexels.com – CHINA
drift wood on seashore
Photo by Christina on Pexels.com – ALASKA
brown wooden house on green grass field near snow covered mountain
Photo by GaPeppy1 on Pexels.com -WYOMING
assorted color houses beside body of water
Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com – Beautiful Italy
building surrounded by parking lot under clear day sky
Photo by David McBee on Pexels.com – KANSAS
ethnic father and son standing on beach
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com
taj mahal india
Photo by Sudipta Mondal on Pexels.com INDIA
architecture building dark dusk
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com – BELGIUM
landscape photography of snowy mountain
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com – CHILE
photo of rock formation near sea
Photo by Efrain Alonso on Pexels.com – MEXICO
sydney opera
Photo by Rijan Hamidovic on Pexels.com – AUSTRALIA
51 DIFFERENT SUBJECTS ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY, AND DURING THE WEEK, ONE PER DAY IS BEING COVERED IN THE BLOG. LOOK AT THE PAST FEW WEEKS TO SEE THE DIFFERENT SUBJECTS. THIS IS THE PLACE TO GET GREAT INFORMATION ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY. TOMORROW’S SUBJECT: AN EMPTY ROAD. LEARN HOW TO TAKE PICTURES OF EMPTY ROADS!
tower bridge
Photo by John Smith on Pexels.com – GREAT BRITAIN
photo of houses
Photo by Evgeny Tchebotarev on Pexels.com
city road people woman
Photo by Lenny Furman on Pexels.com – FLORIDA
zebras on zebra
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com – AFRICA
bird s eye view photography of lighted buildings
Photo by Ethan Brooke on Pexels.com – KOREA
white concrete building under white clouds
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com – USSR
bridge lampposts body of water and buildings during day
Photo by Amy Burry on Pexels.com – SPAIN
photo of hot air balloons on flight
Photo by Adil on Pexels.com
wood dawn landscape sunset
Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com – MISSISSIPPI
photo of ships
Photo by Michael D. Camphin on Pexels.com – PANAMA
green island in the middle of the lake during daytime
Photo by Ketan Kumawat on Pexels.com – NEW ZEALAND
rainbow mountains under white clouds on sunny day
Photo by Hector Perez on Pexels.com – ARGENTINA

Yes, it’s that time of year when you go traveling. This is a beautiful world, and I hope you all get out to enjoy it.

Would you like to be an author of one of the daily blogs? If you are a good photographer and would like to have your article published, contact me here at contact.123photogo@gmail.com

Interested in Advertising on this website? Contact me at advertising.123photogo@gmail.com Special pricing going on now.

Learn how to take beautiful Landscapes

time lapse photography of waterfalls during sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
PART 2 OF 51 OF: LEARN ALL 51 SUBJECTS OF PHOTOGRAPHY:

Learning how to take beautiful landscapes takes practice, and patience, and learning how to “see” the landscape as a great piece of art. When I look at the photo above, I see a few things I have to think about when taking this photo and getting a beautiful photo like this:

  • I have a waterfall. I will need to use a slow shutter speed, maybe one second to get the blur of the water.
  • The sun is setting so my timing has to be perfect to add that color in the background.
  • Because I am using a slow shutter speed to get the water to blur, I will need to use my good tripod
  • The landscape is very green. I need to find a way to enhance that beauty
  • There are people in this photo, but, they are far away. Are they important to create this photo?
  • What lens should I use to get the area that I want in my photo?
  • What is the most important part of this photo: the sky or the land?
  • I need to be aware of subject or ground in the foreground of my photo.
  • Use depth of field to the best that I can…. F16 or F32 if possible
  • Is there any lines or shapes that will help the composition?
  • Plan on taking several photos, one under expose (-), and one over expose (+) to see if one photo looks better
  • Would there be another angle that might improve this landscape photo?
  • Can I do anything with camera filters that will help me from needing to do “post processing”?

Now, you are probably thinking that there is no way I would think about all those things. After you take enough landscape photos, the answers and tips will come automatically. In fact they will come second nature to you as you get used to finding what works the best for you. Let’s just take a look at some of these things that should be done, and I want to emphasize even more.

water falls in the middle of the forest
Photo by Diego Madrigal on Pexels.com

Here are several points we can take care of right here: You need to use a slow shutter speed to get the water to blur. In the first photo, I am just guessing that maybe 1 full second would be a beautiful way to make the water blur. Now, using your manual mode, to get the perfect exposure with 1 second, what is your F number? Is it F16 or F32, F22? If you still can’t get it to match, make sure your ISO setting is as low as it can go. 100 ISO is usually the lowest these new digital cameras will go. If you still can’t get it to match up, you will need a Neutral Density Filter for your lens. I don’t know any serious landscape photographer who doesn’t have a set of Neutral Density Filters. They are nothing more than a glass filter that cuts down the light through your lens, without changing any color.

Just a note: Any words that are in red, are linked to a website, where you can order these items. Or, just to check out the details of this product more.

To get real good at taking landscapes, the best photos are usually done by shooting in manual mode, where you can control the overall effect of the picture.

Photo by Blair Fraser on Unsplash

Another point made in the list above is the importance of a tripod. If you are going to take photos of landscapes where you need to use slow shutter speed, then you must have a Photo tripod. Just do it. Don’t say you can take a picture with the shutter speed at 1/4 second. It will show up badly if you enlarge it. You want sharp pictures, use a Photo tripod.

Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash

Is it a bad thing to add people in your landscape photos? It is not a bad thing if you want to portray perspective in your photo. How big is the valley? How can I let someone know that I am on a cliff? Adding people gives you a great perspective on your landscape photo. But, I would only use them if you want to create perspective.

brown dock
Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

One of the good rules in composition is to use “leading lines” or lines that direct your attention to a certain part of the photo. If you can find them in your landscape, then please try to use them. It will create more of a feeling of motion with your eyes, to see everything in the picture. If you have lines, then use them.

Exposure Bracketing.

Exposure bracketing is also a good thing to do to get good at getting the perfect shot. It is one way to tell, by the contrast in the photo, which photo would be best. It involves you shooting one photo right on to what the light meter says, one photo overexposed, and one photo underexposed. Some people will shoot more.

Exposure Bracketing For Perfect Details - Grey Chow Photography
5 frame photo bracketing exposure

You know you can delete any photos you don’t want to keep in digital photography, so take a lot of exposures, and when you find the one you like, then discard the rest.

Photo by Paul Rysz on Unsplash

I think every photographer would like to take their photo during the “Golden Hour”. Just when is the Golden Hour? That is 1 hour before the sun sets, and 1 hour after sunrise. The sky, the whole picture just looks warmer and more pleasing. And it is a time that every photographer loves. That is why they get up so early, is to get the perfect timing on the light of day.

pexels-photo-2166711.jpeg
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

When you go out to take your great landscape photos, a Wide Angle lens would be a lens you would usually use. Or a wide angle zoom lens would also be ideal, because you can vary the amount you want in your photo. These lenses get the “wide vistas” of a great landscape photo. You just can’t go wrong with this lens.

One more item to attach to your lens is a circular polarizing filter. I have done some “post processing” and find that one thing that works similar to a circular polarizing filter is the “dehazing” adjustment on Lightroom. I like to use that on some of my old photos, but, I can accomplish the same thing as I take the picture, using a circular polarizing filter. It cuts reflections off all non-metallic surfaces, such as trees, grass, and even the little dust particles in the sky. It brings out the colors of your landscape photo by a lot. It is worth the investment.

Photo by Ouael Ben Salah on Unsplash

Conclusion:

This whole exercise today was to get you to think about all the different things that go in to making an amazing landscape photo. Go through the list a few times, take the pointers we talked about, and practice, practice, practice. Once you go through this exercise asking all these questions before you push the button, you will be in demand for the amazing photos you take.

HOW TO TAKE GOOD PHOTOS OF CLOUDS:

two person on boat in body of water during golden hour
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com
Special note: recently I was looking for a subject to write on for this blog, and came across another website that was showing how many different subjects there are on photography. And they came up with:

51 different subjects !

I have decided to take on that challenge and see if I can share my knowledge of all 51 different subjects.

FIRST ON THE LIST: TAKING PHOTOS OF CLOUDS !

white clouds
Photo by Ruvim on Pexels.com

In scenery photos, I believe the best photos will include clouds. Generally, as long as you have a foreground or a true landscape photo with the clouds in the picture, you can just follow the light meter. But, be aware of certain clouds that could throw the exposure setting off on your landscape photo.

Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

If you have a lot of “white” clouds in your photo, the light meter of your camera may turn the rest of the landscape dark to compensate for all the white. The photo above has 2 issues to watch out for: 1- if you just use your light meter in automatic mode, the white clouds will probably not be white. They will be a darker shade, almost grey in color. That’s because the light meter thinks everything is grey. So, these clouds are not as white as they were in real life. 2- Also, because of that the landscape is now darker as well.

Here is a better view of what the image really was: The clouds are white, and now we have a better exposure of the landscape as well. Oh, there’s color in the landscape that was missed with the first photo. But, perhaps you like the first one better? You decide, but the first one is way underexposed.

What to do: make sure if you are shooting with automatic mode, try using your “over / under” exposure compensation dial, and over expose (+) your photo.

What if you want to make your clouds the important part of the subject, like a sunrise or sunset:

Photo by Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash

In this case, for a sunset, the clouds in the photo just adds to the colors. The capture the reflections they get from the actual sunset and make their own color. Often you can get this type of photo, just by using your camera in automatic mode. But, I would certainly experiment with this by taking the photo at what the camera light meter does, and then take one picture over expose (+) and then one underexposed (-) to see the color differences. It will mean the difference between a good photo and a bad photo.

I have on my Facebook page, a photographer that shoots the sunset every night, and the colors are incredible. I have someone else who lives in a different part of the valley shoot the same sunset, and I am bored. And then I saw it myself, and I will go with the first photographer. So, experiment with the exposure control even if you like what you got, and see if you can get a better one.

Photo taken by Lanny Cottrell

Now take a look at this above photo, with a variety of clouds and the mountains in brilliant color. This was taken with a circular polarizing filter, and this totally enhanced all the colors, plus, kept the exposure perfect. This is because there is more “scenery” in the photo than the clouds. But, look at that photo again, and picture it without the clouds. Not quite so pretty is it? So, clouds are truly important when taking photos.

seaside
Photo by Fabian Wiktor on Pexels.com

I love what another photographer put as the steps necessary to get good cloud photos:

1- Use all your lenses, telephoto zooms, wide angle lenses, general walk arounds. Zoom in, zoom out, photograph panoramas, shoot them both horizontally and vertically. But mostly shoot them wide and get as much into one scene as possible. You can always crop and resize as you wish later on.

2-Use a polarizing filter to help bring out as much detail as possible.

3- Photograph all types of clouds. Dark angry clouds, happy fluffy clouds, Cirrus and Cumulus are my personal favorites. Photograph them at sunset, sunrise, midday or midnight for that matter! Overcast days, sunny days, just keep shooting whenever you see a dramatic sky formation.

4- Keep your camera ISO setting low. Personally I don’t go over 200 ISO for clouds. You want to keep them clean and noise free.

5- Keep photographing clouds and the sky from every direction in reference to the sun and lighting as well. When you clone in a new sky the lighting on the main subject needs to match the lighting on the sky. After all, you want it to appear believable.

6- I set the lowest aperture f-number possible. A sky or cloud formation is so far away your camera aperture setting becomes virtually unimportant. Just make sure the camera is focusing on the actual sky and not a nearby object.

Another thing to watch for is the different timing on your sunset photos with the clouds. The photo above is a photo taken at “twilight”, which occurs after the sun goes down, and colors that you pick up are the purples and blues creating even a more beautiful sunset. Don’t just take your sunset photo and leave, wait to see if you can get some of the “twilight” colors too. You will be glad you did.

If you have any questions in regards to this subject, contact me at: question.123photogo@gmail.com