How to take landscape photos in full sun

Landscape Photography Beyond the Daylight Hours of Sunrise and Sunset

May 02, 2023

We, landscape photographers, love that sunrise and sunset light, and for good reasons. With sunrise and sunset come colourful skies, dramatic and fast-moving light, atmospheric elements and a ton of energy. Elements that every landscape photographer dreams about. 

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 sunny daylight skies. 

1. Use daytime clouds to your advantage

Landscape photography does involve a lot of patience. Perhaps not as much patience as the wildlife photographer. However, waiting for a moment is important in this genre of photography. As you would wait for those sunrise colours to pop, during full-sun daylight scenes, wait for clouds to pass over the sun and diffuse the light in a landscape scene. The softening of direct daylight by a cloud will produce more diffuse and even lighting in a landscape scene. 

ISO 64 14mm f10 1/80 SS

2. Bracket exposures

Bracketing exposure is a technique that captures a scene at varying levels of exposure. The method I teach is a two-step manual bracket approach to high dynamic range landscape settings. This practice captures an exposure for the highlights in a landscape scene and then an exposure for the shadows. Bracketing exposures can help the landscape photographer preserve those bright daylight highlights and deep shadows.

3. Focus on light and shadow

Daytime light offers some beautiful opportunities to focus on the play between light and shadows in a landscape scene. It's not always easy to embrace dappled light, but when full sunlight hits a feature element in a landscape scene, it can draw attention in a dynamic and powerful way. 

ISO 31 19.5mm f11 2 seconds

This spring and summer, don't be afraid to challenge yourself in your approach to landscape photography by embracing those daylight images. You'll learn more about light, and I think you will come away with some beautiful images.


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