Landscape Photography – It’s All About the Light

As a landscape photographer and workshop leader, it’s my job to be sure my clients are at the right place at the right time.  Sounds easy right?  Well, a lot of things need to fall into place for it all to work.  Those details include the subject, the light, your position and the time of day.

Yosemite and the light

On our recent workshop in Yosemite National Park, we brought our clients to one of my favorite places for a sunset shot.  There were a lot of factors to take into consideration.  We looked at not only the location, but also the position of the sun and where it will set.  In this particular setting, we were facing an iconic scene of Half Dome. We brought our clients out there at 2:30pm in the afternoon. Sunset is not slated until 5:00pm but there’s a lot of factors that come into play here.

Many people would say, “you mean I can’t just snap a shot from the parking lot and get the same shot you did?”

In Yosemite, there are a several factors that come in to play.  There are always crowds in this part of the world, even in the middle of winter in my “secret location”.  So I wanted to be sure that my clients would get the best spot and get set up before any other photographers came by.  Our goal was to be at the location as the sun was setting and creating a glow on the mountain and the trees in the foreground. The light is also hard to predict at this time of year in Yosemite.  Yosemite is in a deep valley and the sun disappears behind the mountains late in the afternoon.

Sunset Yosemite National Park

© Holly Higbee-Jansen

 

Yosemite Sunset Light

© Holly Higbee-Jansen

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

© Holly Higbee-Jansen

 

 

Half Dome Sunset

© Holly Higbee-Jansen

 

So we set up the 8 of us.  All of our cameras, our tripods, and our high hopes for a beautiful sunset.  Shortly after 3:00pm, the light started to move through the scene, touching on the trees and moving gracefully, highlighting only the aspens in the foreground.

In landscape photography it’s all about the light.

Of course in a beautiful spot like Yosemite you can take a picture at any time of the day and you will get that iconic shot, but if you wait for the late afternoon light highlighting your subject, it will take on a whole new dimension.  It’s the angle of the light that will bring out more detail and contrast in your photo, and will help to bring your photography to another level. Just this one tip can make a huge difference in the quality of your photographs.

I was working with clients, but also took the opportunity to shoot myself with my telephoto 200mm, my wide angle 11-22mm and my iPhone.  This is the series of images I took starting

Half Dome Sunset

© Holly Higbee-Jansen

with a close up view, and gradually pulling back and getting the whole scene as the light was changing.

It’s important to get all the details in your photograph and take each part of the scene separately. This was a particularly interesting shoot because the light was moving quickly through the scene. And as an unexpected surprise, the moon rose just as the sun was setting, giving us this beautiful scene for our clients.

If you would like to learn to shoot a scene like this and be there at the right time to experience the light, join us for one of our upcoming workshops in Yosemite, Big Sur, Eastern Sierras and Iceland.  For more information, go to our website at www.JansenPhotoExpeditions.com.

 

 

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Holly Higbee-Jansen

Co-Owner and Workshop Leader at Jansen Photo Expeditions
I am a passionate photographer and workshop leader, and I have been exploring my fascination with light since I was a young child. As a co-owner and guide for www.JansenPhotoExpeditions.com, I love taking our small groups of clients to beautiful places to help them explore their photographic creativity. Join us on one of our photographic workshops in the American West, Iceland and Central America: www.JansenPhotoExpedtions.com or take one of our online photography classes.  Live life creatively!  Reach me by email at:  hhjphoto@gmail.com
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