For the Love of Daylight

May 04, 2021

We, landscape photographers, love those sunrises and sunsets, and for good reasons. Alongside sunrise and sunset comes colourful skies, dramatic and fast-moving light, atmospheric elements and a ton of energy. All of which are perfect elements for capturing that lusted after landscape image. 

If you're anything like me, though, your camera doesn't get a rest during a landscape outing. Rain or shine, soft light or hard light, you're constantly looking for beauty to capture. 

As the days grow longer and nights shorter here in the northern hemisphere, the opportunity for daylight photography is plentiful. So this week, I want to encourage you to embrace the sunlight beyond the hours of sunrise and sunset in your landscape photography.

Here are three of my best tips for photographing under daylight skies. 

Wait for a mix of sun and cloud 

Landscape photography is a test of patience. We landscape photographers wait, ALOT! That waiting, however, is usually worth it. During full sun daylight scenes, try waiting until a passing cloud diffuses some of that harsh sunlight leaving the landscape scene lit by more diffused light. The softening of daylight by a cloud will produce more diffuse and even lighting in a landscape scene, reducing dynamic range but still offering the opportunity for high light contrast images. 

                                         

                                                                                          ISO 31, 16mm, f11, 0.8sec

Bracket exposures

Bracketing exposures in a technique that captures a scene at varying levels of exposure. A scene can be underexposed, neutrally exposed and over-exposed manually or automatically. Bracketing exposures can help the landscape photographer preserve those bright daylight highlights and deep shadows in a landscape scene. This technique will need blending in post-processing, but it's well worth the effort! 

Focus on light and shadow

Daytime light offers some beautiful opportunities to zoom in and focus on the play between light and shadows in a landscape scene. Don't be afraid to use a telephoto or even a macro lens to create images that focus on light and shadow. Look for landscape scenes in which there is a large dynamic range between the lightest and brightest highlights and deepest and darkest shadows. If not already beautiful enough on its own, the variation of light adds incredible depth and infuses a lifelike feeling into a macro or telephoto scene. 

ISO 100, 200mm, f9, 1/800SS

Don't be afraid to challenge yourself in your approach to landscape photography. Embrace those daylight images over the coming late spring and through the summer months. You'll learn more about light, and I think come away with some beautiful images.