Everyone who is photographing landscapes knows how important light is. With the right light situations, a boring landscape can transform into something magical. It is not only choosing the golden hour, but also waiting for the right moment. You need to be patient.
We all know light is the key element in landscape photography. Often, the golden hour is the most attractive moment of the day, when the light is soft and the shadows are long. But landscape photography is not limited to these few hours, although a lot of photographers think so. Also during daytime, wonderful photos can be made. But you have to wait for the right moment.
Of course, shooting a landscape under a clear blue sky can produce boring results and end up being nothing more than a registration of the scenery. The photo of the famous Haukland Beach is a good example. Although I tried to find some nice leading lines and a good composition, the image is not that attractive. Even the long exposure with a 10-stop neutral density filter cannot change this.
But harsh daylight can also bring opportunities. When we were walking on the beach at Côte d’Opale, I noticed a nice rock next to a tide pool with the cretaceous white cliffs leading towards the horizon. Those cliffs casted a shadow on the beach and on the rock. Because the sun was moving higher into the sky, the shadows became shorter. So, I had to wait for a while. After five minutes, the rock emerged from the shadows, and a nice composition was possible. As a bonus, I got some people in the frame, which gave a sense of perspective.
Back to Haukland Beach at Lofoten. I showed the beach at daylight with a clear blue sky. There were no interesting shadows available, so you have to wait for different circumstances. I also photographed the same beach at daytime, just before a massive snowstorm came upon us. I used a similar leading line and long exposure, but thanks to the weather situation, the photo became so much more attractive.
This example of Haukland beach clearly shows how weather situations can make a lot of difference. It is always a good habit to keep an eye on the weather.
For daytime photography, I often prefer fluffy clouds in a blue sky and some sunlight in between. We, from the Netherlands, call these Dutch Skies. The clouds will produce a playful game of light and shadow, which you can work with. You have to keep an eye on how the light moves across the land and wait until your subject is lit by sunlight. Never take a picture the moment you have found nice scenery, but wait until the light and shadow parts are exactly the way you want. The next few examples will illustrate this.
In these examples, I just had to wait a few minutes for the light to hit my subject. You can clearly see how much of a difference it makes. This also works in forests, where the location of the light can turn the forest into something magical, even at high noon.
Every before and after images in the examples has the same post-processing, so you see exactly how the light has changed just by waiting. Keep an eye on the movement of the light, and you need to be patient. Sometimes, it takes a few seconds or minutes, sometimes it doesn't happen at all. But when it does, the difference in appearance will make it worthwhile.
I leave you with a few examples of daytime landscapes, with light situations that are captured just by waiting for the right moment.
Often, I anticipated the moment by looking at the movement of the light, and sometimes it was just luck to have captured it before the light disappeared. I hope it will inspire you to go out, even during daytime, and play with light and shadow.