Video: No matter the conditions, there’s always the potential for a great landscape photo


posted Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 7:30 PM EDT


Photographer Thomas Heaton recently went on a hiking excursion with Nick Livesey, who offers guided mountain walks and photography workshops in North Wales. On the first day, the views were stunning. However, the sky was essentially cloudless, which doesn't always make for the best landscape photos. But Heaton's latest video is titled 'There's always a shot, no matter the conditions,' so how does he turn a dull sky and harsh light into a nice photo?

Most photographers can relate to Heaton when, while looking at a mountain crag washed in lovely sunset light, he says, 'It's beautiful, but I couldn't make it into an image.' As Heaton adds, a great view doesn't necessarily make for a great photograph. The first possible composition, the most obvious one in the scene, didn't grab Heaton, but another possibility did. The resulting image is lovely and goes to show that the striking subject in an area may not be the best photographic subject, even if it's nice to look at.

On the second day, Heaton ventured to a nearby beach by himself. If the first day's skies were too clear and blue, the second day's were too gray and cloudy. The light went from too harsh to too flat. But there's always potential.

Over the years, Heaton has learned not to be obsessed with light, color and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Fantastic light is the exception, not the rule, so you've got to learn to work with what you've got. In a studio you can control all the variables. Out in the field, when shooting landscapes, you can only control your composition and camera settings. However, that still leaves a lot under your control. Sure, you can't change the light, but where would the fun be in that?

'This is quite a nice image actually. I'm fairly pleased with it,' said Heaton. 'Although the conditions are very subdued, that's not always a bad thing. Yes, we don't have the epic lights. But we do have a beautiful scene in front of us and we can enhance our photograph with a nice composition.' Instead of worrying about the lack of dramatic light, Heaton's upbeat approach allows him to carefully consider the scene, evaluate the possible compositions and pick the one he feels is best.

Even if you can't overcome the conditions to come home with a portfolio-quality shot, it is always worth the effort. The worst-case scenario is that you acquire additional experience.

To see more from Thomas Heaton, visit his website and subscribe to his YouTube channel.

(Via Thomas Heaton