Succeeding Under Boring Conditions in Landscape Photography

Would you like to hang up a boring picture on your wall? Properly not. But what can we do to turn boring weather conditions into interesting photographs?

In my latest video about how I succeeded with the most boring weather conditions in landscape photography, we should clarify first what boring conditions are actually. As landscape photographers, we know that rain is our friend for photographing woodland scenes, as it brings out the contrasts on all the surfaces and the saturation on the foliage as well. We know that fog or mist can help us to simplify our scenes and can even add a mystical mood. An uncomfortable snowstorm can help us to bring drama into our winter scenes. So, what are boring conditions?

Positive Images

Non-photographers and even landscape photography beginners often think that they have to take each photograph in clear sunshine. Just think about holiday photos. The reason is simply that most people feel most comfortable when the sun is shining. We hope for sunshine when we fly on holidays. And photographers tend to bring a positive mood into their photographs. They want viewers to experience the same positive emotions when they are looking at the images.

By the way, it is the same reason why we have all learned already as children always to laugh into the camera when we get photographed. We simply want to convey, that we were happy when we got photographed. The result is positive images. Whenever we look at a positive image, the mirror neurons in our brain indicate a positive mood. We feel well then because we imagine how comfortable it was inside the frame. So, should we photograph just sunny scenes? No, there are so many more possibilities for positive images, like golden light at sunset or sunrise, a rainbow, a subtly backlit tree that starts to glow, or even a tranquil blue hour scene with an orange sky.

Negative Images

Landscape photographs with bad weather instead show us that it is quite uncomfortable inside the frame, and we start to feel better because we know that we are outside of the frame, where it is much more comfortable. It is like looking through a window of an alpine cabin when the wind is whistling and the thermometer shows frosty temperatures outside while we are enjoying the noise of the oven burning the wood and drinking a hot cup of tea. Images that show uncomfortableness are negative. The important thing is that they don’t convey uncomfortableness, just show it. And this makes us feel more comfortable. Just think about an image of a thunderstorm, a waterfall scene in a foggy gorge, a misty mountain scene, or a cold winter scene.

What Are Boring Conditions?

Boring conditions are those, that don’t allow us either to use positive or negative moods to evoke positive emotions. We usually always try to use the weather conditions to our advantage. After all, they are part of the story and usually add to it. Boring weather conditions are those that no one wants to see.

In my video, you see me wandering around in the Alps after a rainy night in winter. Rain was a fantastic ingredient for negative images, but as we have winter and everything was covered with snow, the rain washed down all the snow from the trees, so they were bleak and boring. The rest of the snow on the ground had an unappealing texture so that a vista scene would look flat and boring and a woodland scene would be nearly impossible, as the bright snow draws the viewer’s eyes always to the ground, while the thin, bleak trees and branches would get lost in the composition.

How I Finally Succeeded

You can use the conditions as part of your story, but that only works when you get a positive or negative concept. Or if you are not able to use the conditions as part of your story, you could try to find a way to exclude the boring conditions from your composition. In my video, I finally decided on the latter. I walked to a place where the washed-down snow didn’t have the biggest impact on my images. In this case, I went to a waterfall, photographing some fantastic scenes.

Many more tips and my thoughts when I’m looking for composition are revealed in the above-linked video. Leave us a comment below on which weather conditions you struggle with most.

Christian Irmler's picture

Christian Irmler is a passioned landscape photographer from Austria who comes from a line of artists.
He engages already his whole life with the compositions of the paintings of his family. In 1990 he began with photography and started to implement all his knowledge from painting into his photography.

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