Having just returned from a trip to the Yorkshire Dales and other parts of the country I have now had time to reflect upon the trip and the images I took.
In landscape photography there is certainly a lot of emphasis placed upon waiting for the “right light”. However what is the right light?
During my trip I had limited time to try and capture shots of beautiful areas and for the most part due to it being summer time I didnt get what I would call the right light. I think I can say that a lot of my shots from the Hebrides have beautiful dramatic light in them but this light was very rare during my trip.
So should you wait forever for this perfect light or should you concentrate on the fundamentals of creating a great composition using the light available.
Well I believe that a shot is not just about the light, although it can have a huge impact upon an image. Good light cannot make a poor shot great but you can create a very good shot without great light.
Quite often I see shots of beautiful sunsets with no regard for composition and these shots, no matter how great the light are not great images.
However I have seen many photographs where the light is nothing special but the photographer has paid attention to the subject and composition and created a beautiful image regardless of not having great light to aid them.
Some light does make it more difficult to create great shots but it is still possible. Think flat grey overcast days, but even here you can still have success if you choose the right subject and composition.
I had several days in Yorkshire that were overcast, I knew they were coming so I planned to visit Hardraw Force and Asygarth Falls on those days. The grey clouds cut out a lot of light allowing for nice slow shutter speeds to record movement in the water as you can see in this image Hardraw Force.
The clouds also act like one giant soft box, creating diffuse light which is perfect for portraiture.
Grey overcast weather is no good for shooting expansive landscapes though, for these I usually like quite changeable weather with clouds moving in behind sunshine, sunny spells and showers is probably my favourite weather forecast.
However when you consider the subject, this type of weather is not always the most suitable.
For most of my visit the sky was blue with white fluffy clouds. This is not usually what I want to see but I had to adjust my shots accordingly and find pretty scenes that suited the light like this one of Wensleydale.
If the sky is particularly uninspiring then dont include it in your shot or limit the amount of sky in your image.
What I’m getting at is that as landscape photographers we can certainly chase good light and there is of course a certain type of light which we may desire but if we limit ourselves to taking shots only when the light is “perfect” then we will miss a lot of great shots along the way.
However when taking shots in less than ideal light, your skill and eye come to the fore and the importance of composition becomes paramount. Dont just snap away but consider the scene in front of you and how you can best show it using all the skills that you have developed over the years.
A good place to start for compositional tips would be my previous blog posts.
I’m now planning my next trip which will be in the Autumn time when I should have a greater chance of seeing some spectacular light, however if I dont, I know that the colours of Autumn will more than make up for it and I will continue shooting with or without the light.