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Nature and Landscape Photography Tips - It's All About Timing

Jan 20, 2008
You know how that famous saying goes: It's all about timing. It goes for a lot of things in life, and in many cases in landscape photography, it's true. While we won't go too in depth into lighting in this article, that's basically what photography is all about. Capturing the light reflected by objects that hits your camera's lens. When you take nature landscape photos, you're usually relying on natural light - meaning light from the sun. I'm not sure if Galileo ever told you, but the earth revolves around the sun and rotates, creating days and nights as well as the four seasons.

Well, that's all for the lesson in science. Now, to get down to business with photography. Generally, the best times to take photos are at dawn and at dusk, and some photographers will exclusively shoot only during those times. There's something special about the angle that light hits objects when the sun is setting or when it's rising. There's such a wide spectrum of colors that you can get from the 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after sunrise or sunset is so broad and amazing. In the middle of this time period, you need pay special attention to cloud formations, weather, shadows and the color changes in the sky, water and objects you plan to include in your photos. Even a difference of even simply 30 seconds can create a drastically different photo. While you don't want to take too many photos, that's the beauty of digital photography and large memory cards: just keep taking photos and you can review them later. I suggest taking them in RAW format so that you can tweak the white balance in afterwards in Photoshop or your photo editor of choice.

How to Catch the Magic Moment

In order to catch the perfect moment, it will help you to know your territory beforehand. Scout it out the day before if possible, and do it at the same time you plan to take your photos if you can. Of course, I know it's not always possible, but if you're traveling in another city or country and you can at least walk by the area you want to shoot from (even if you do it at noon or another part of the day), you can look at the different angles, landmarks and imagine the way the shadows would fall and the way light will hit objects from the east or the west. Plan accordingly depending on if you want to shoot at sunset or sunrise, and take a compass with you if need one to tell your cardinal directions.

It really depends on how remote the areas you want to shoot its, but you'll want to make sure that you know the path to get there - especially if you plan to take photos at sunrise - be sure to carry a flashlight or headlamp with you. Once you get there, before you unpack your gear, especially if you haven't scouted out the area yet, take a quick stroll around to ensure that this is the exact spot you want to shoot from. Once you've begun taking photos, you don't want to be moving around, as you could miss that one magical moment when the light is "absolutely perfect". One more thing to consider would be to check online and see the projected times for sunrise and sunset. Try to arrive early so that you have enough time to set up before the sun starts dazzling you with its amazing colors.

While some might say that a lot of photography is luck, you still have to be prepared and take advantage of the opportunities when you have the chance to take those incredible shots!
About the Author
Ian Spellfield is a professional photographer who specializes in landscape and nature photography. He tries to help others learn more digital photography tips for nature and landscape photos.
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