In most articles you read these days about capturing great Landscape Photographs, Blue hour and Golden hour are always discussed in length and portrayed as the holy grail of Landscape Photography. I totally agree that in most cases great light can make or break an image. It’s importance to us as photographers to portray our minds eye while adding dimension to our images is unquestionable.
However I have fallen into this trap myself many times and became a slave to only getting out and shooting at these magical hours but as photographers when we do this we seriously limit ourselves on the style of images we can take.
You have put the effort in got up in the middle of the night, driven hundreds of miles to climb a mountain in the dark, perilously setup on the edge of a cliff and framed the perfect shot. You wait; you wait for the sky to illuminate with that magical light. You sit scanning the sky for beautiful hues, waiting in anticipation for that portfolio image you have dreamed of only for Mother Nature to have other ideas as cloud covers the horizon and snuffs out that magical first light. You take the image anyway but once you get back home tired from the long day you look at the image and your heart sinks! It is flat and uninspiring, fed up you tell yourself, next time!
Most magazines and Youtube channels these days are full of inspirational people who will tell you “hey that’s Landscape Photography” and give you that inspirational speech to get you back out there and do it all over again! I am not knocking any of them but what I will say is that one of the biggest over looked factors in photography is the Bad Weather!
Open that door to another dimension of Landscape Photography and seek out those bad weather days. Those gale force winds, torrential downpours and wintery showers often create the most sublime images you will ever capture! When I look at my favourite and most rewarding photographs over 70% of them have been taken when most people just think I am mad. I won’t lie it is hard work and yes you have to have the right gear by this I mean weather sealed cameras and lenses and obviously appropriate clothing to go with it but a lot of people have this already and still decide the weather outside is no good for photography. A lot of new cameras and lenses on the market today are weather sealed and if yours is remember that nice shiny camera is there to be used!
It’s not only about extreme weather but I started this blog talking about magical light and again this can happen middle of the day and often some of the best light can be as a storm passes overhead. I always keep my eye on the weather forecast and the Met office being my first go to when planning shoot. You are looking for that cloud symbol with sun and rain you want all three and if you can get a dark black cloud then you could seriously be in for a treat!
Met office Screenshot
Waterfalls can also be a great place to keep an eye on during high winds and heavy rainfall and often get overlooked. These can make epic photographs especially if the wind is hitting the falls head on causing the water to almost go vertically above giving your images atmosphere and something unique.
Atmosphere and Drama are what you are looking to capture and in my opinion are just as powerful if not more so than any bright colourful sky. I love the word ‘Sublime’ and for me that is what I long for in my photography and constantly chase mother nature and all she can throw at me in hope that I can be in the right place at the right time to capture it.
I must stress be sensible and above all be safe! That doesn’t mean clinging to the edge of a cliff during a hurricane above huge waves is the way to go. Even the best images in the world are not worth your life! But being sensible anyone can capture these magical dramatic moments, which will give you portfolio photographs to cherish.
It is hard going but the rewards can be more than worth it, don’t let these magical moments pass you bye and give your photographs another dimension!
With years of experience and a number of award winning photographs Nigel Waters is a UK landscape photographer based in Worcestershire. With a passion for the great outdoors and continually chasing the light to capture beautiful photographs his landscape, seascape and nightscape photography will give you inspiration to get out and explore the best British landscapes have to offer.