Capturing landscapes in difficult midday sun: Tips for turning harsh light into great photos


posted Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 6:00 AM EST


In an ideal world, it would always be possible to capture landscape images in beautiful early morning or sunset light. However, there are a plethora of reasons why you may instead find yourself shooting in harsh midday light. Typically, people would consider the middle of the day a bad time to shoot or impossible lighting conditions. Don't let bad light prevent you from capturing good images. In the video below, photographer Nigel Danson offers numerous techniques that can help you overcome difficult midday sun to capture great landscape photos.

When working with flat light, it can be tricky to use light to create depth or layering in your landscape compositions. To overcome this, Danson recommends looking for particularly interesting foreground and midground elements to place in your frame to create a sense of depth. Of course, this is a good technique in general, but it becomes even more important when working in flat lighting conditions. Another good idea when shooting during the day is to keep an eye on the cloud cover, especially on a windy day. Light can change dramatically as clouds pass in front of the sun, which can create interesting lighting in a scene, but also help reduce harshness and shadows. It's also possible to use harsh light and strong shadows to your advantage while shooting. As Danson shows in the video below, you can use shadows and contrast as compositional elements.

After returning back to his studio, Danson decided to go through his backlog to see how many of his favorite images had been captured in late morning or early afternoon lighting conditions. As it turns out, there were quite a few of them. One of the common themes among these images was that they featured dappled light. With some clouds, a scene can be completely transformed and become very photogenic, even at traditionally "boring" times of the day. Near the end of the video above, Danson shows a particularly compelling comparison, which shows how quickly a scene can change during the day and how important it is to keep an eye on the clouds as you shoot. To see more of Nigel Danson's work, click here

(Via Nigel Danson