Do You Wait for the Right Light?

One thing I do hear often is '' the conditions are not right. I'll wait till the light is better.'' And although good light can make or break an image should this hold you back from just going out to practice?

As photographers, we learn more about our skills and our craft by doing exactly just that, practicing. The more we practice, the more we improve. The more we improve the better we become, obviously, and when the timing is right, i.e. the composition is just the way we want it, the conditions are perfect and everything is just aligned to get the shot and we nail it! All because we devoted our time to practice.

Yes, I've repeated that word many times over the last few sentences, but it is the truth and one we can't get away from. If we don't do it and continue to wait for the perfect conditions, how do we know that we are going to get it right at the time it counts? Unless seasoned by constantly going out in all conditions and learning what the camera can do, and more importantly what you can do with the camera, how do you know that you are going to nail that shot? Who can you blame except for yourself when it all goes to pot, simply because you didn't push yourself to go out and [blank]? I'm sure you get the idea by now of the missing word. Yes, we will get that lucky shot and be very happy with the results, but how much of that is down to the right place, right time, and how much is down to camera skills? 

Okay so enough with the negativity as there are so many positives that will happen through constantly shooting when the weather has decided to throw everything at you except for great light.

You'll learn how to work with what you have available both in terms of composition and equipment. With myself for example, if it's a bright sunny day I'll either stick on the 200mm lens and look for compositions in the landscape that don't include the sky, or I'll head into shaded woodlands and practice! I said it again, my shooting of dappled light or more intimate compositions of woodlands. 

Dappled light using the Fuji XT3. 2 image focus stack.

The takeaways are:

1. My composition skills when looking over a landscape/scene improve.

2. My understanding of light in wooded areas improves.

3. I discover new areas for possible future shoots.

4. I improve my camera skills in all of these situations.

5. I'm outside breathing in fresh air, getting exercise, and not creating pressure ulcers from sitting inside in front of a computer editing, wishing the light was more favorable.

Practice equals improvement. Wishing the light was better and not going out anyway is just wasting time and time is a precious commodity.

In this video, I talk about the accumulation of things you'll learn just going out to shoot in all weather conditions and how doing this can reward you tenfold in your craft and skill base. Now, you may be thinking but you know that and that is true if you have been shooting for a while, even years. But what we have to remember is that we all have to start somewhere and by that simple guide of just go shoot no matter the conditions to anyone starting out will excel their photographic eye and skills. And the same goes for us who have been shooting for years. Every weather condition is a learning curve that will ultimately improve your skills.

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cyndi shannon's picture

I 100% agree! Playing with harsh light can actually be fun too! ✌🏻♥️📸

Gary McIntyre's picture

It just pushes your creativity and ability doesn't it.

cyndi shannon's picture


El Dooderino's picture

I have to admit that I'm guilty of this, although like you said, sometimes you just have to accept the light you have and try to have fun with it!

Gary McIntyre's picture

Think it's something we are all guilty of from time to time though :)

Charles Mercier's picture

When the light isn't great, avoid landscapes and wide shots and concentrate on detail or smaller objects.

Gary McIntyre's picture

Yes, that's also true but if you are mainly a landscape photographer why avoid situations or conditions that are not so favorable. If you are looking to get better at what you do should you not push yourself to see how you can adapt?