I’m almost always paying attention to the light, even if I don’t have my camera, or iPhone, out. I like to practice anticipating the light, because it’s a very important part of shooting landscapes.
There are two scenarios, where you’ll see the light change most dramatically. Those are during the golden hours, because of the changing colors, and on a partly cloudy day, when the sun goes in and out of the clouds. Today, I’ll show you how the light in one scene changed dramatically over just 16 seconds.
There were clouds off to the left, partly in front of the sun, when this first image was taken at 3:13 and 27 seconds.
My first thoughts of the scene were how I liked the dirt at the edge of the reservoir as a border, the grass in the water, the tree at a point of interest, and Pilot rock in the distance, near another point of interest. The scene lacks contrast though, because the sun isn’t shining directly on it. The main problem, for me, is the tree doesn’t pop because its not much brighter than the hills behind it.
Sure, I could improve it, if I took it into snapseed, then added some contrast and drama. All of these images are unedited, so you can see how the light affects the scene.
This next image was taken at 3:13 and 37 seconds.
I hadn’t planned on doing a post where I compare the light, so I actually moved a little to the right of the previous shot, seeking another interesting composition. As you can see, 10 seconds was enough time for the sun to start peeking out from behind the clouds. The way it is hitting the tree and brush behind it are adding some nice contrast, because the hills behind them are still in the shadow. Having the middle part of the image brightened up is also great for drawing the viewer’s eye into the image.
The last image was taken at 3:13 and 43 seconds.
The light is even more intense, as the sun has come out a little bit more. The tree and brush behind it have gotten brighter, adding more contrast, but now the brush to the right is brighter as well. You’ll also notice that the changing cloud cover has darkened the grass in the water.
Overall, I think I like the composition of the first image, and the lighting in the third image.
The next time you’re shooting on a partly cloudy day, be sure to allow some time for the scene to develop, if the lighting isn’t ideal, at first.