Landscape Photography With Less Than Favorable Light

"If The Sky Is Blue, There Is No Need For You To Be Too."

Many photographers know that it can seem like the weather is constantly against you while you are traveling. You've seen great images of the same place you are heading but the weather just doesn't want you to capture that perfect image. Well, guess what? You can be in control of even the most adverse of weather conditions. Here how.

So you're traveling through an area on a family vacation? You don't have the time to hang about for the perfect light but you feel compelled deep down to take a photograph of some of the places you'll pass. You wish for Mother Nature to grace you with beautiful clouds and pray to the photo gods for epic light, but when you arrive you are treated to perfectly blue skies with not a cloud to be seen. You're family is ecstatic, but you can't help but feel upset. Don't let the blues keep you down! Whip that camera out, put on your telephoto lens and look for some patterns and shapes.

By focusing on details of your location you can create a sense of place, and help the viewer feel what it was like to be where you were standing.  The sky may not have come to play ball, but you did. These images can become some of the strongest in your portfolio, and really help to develop your photography skills. 

 Nepali Coast  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Nepali Coast

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

If you find yourself still wishing to capture the grand landscape in front of you, remember to keep the blue sky to a minimum. Use the elements in front of you to create a unique composition that keeps your eyes from wandering off into the blue. Here are some examples:

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Use the blue sky to create a frame around your image. By doing this, the subject is trapped within the image and the viewers eye sees the subject as an important element...

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Use strong foreground elements close to the cameras lens to create drama and draw the viewers attention...

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Integrate the human element to create movement into your image...

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Utilize a sun burst to break up the solid sky and add interest...

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Or shoot in black and white. Don't forget to get low to add some interest.

Oh, Mother Nature didn't throw blue skies at you, she decided you needed a shower and brought the rain storm of all rain storms down upon you? If your traveling, I hope you brought your rain jacket(A good rain jacket is one item other than my camera that I do not leave the house without). Despite the fact that you are standing out in the rain getting soaked while your family is inside the condo playing board games, this is actually a great time to get images that differ greatly from the competitions. Everybody has taken the image of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, but have they taken it during a thunderstorm (use common sense and stay safe)? Odds are only a handful have, so shooting in bad weather can really help you as a photographer. Here are a few images for inspiration from when the weather was just chucking it down.

 Bonneville Badlands  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Bonneville Badlands

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

Sometimes it is the storm clouds that make the image. If you have the time, don't forget to wait out the storm, because when it passes you can capture a totally different type of image. It may even look like you were there multiple days. Check out these images that were photographed within an hour of one another!

 

An added bonus is that you get to come back to the family and show them the amazing sight they missed! Maybe next time they will join you out into the rain.

 Horseshoe Bend Storm  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Horseshoe Bend Storm

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

 Horseshoe Bend Sunset  © Andrew Lockwood2017

Horseshoe Bend Sunset

© Andrew Lockwood2017

Every once in a while while you are on vacation the bad weather get worse and you feel that there is absolutely no way to even justify getting the camera out. Heavy snowfall is one time when it becomes hard to get the camera out. We all enjoy romping around after a new fallen snow, but surprisingly many photographers don't go out into the snow storm to capture great images. Had I not decided to brave the single digit temperatures and pounding snow I may never have taken one of my favorite images. While I was in Salt Lake City we received an early snowstorm that dumped about 2 feet of snow on the surrounding area within a few hours. I packed up and braced for the weather. I had decided on a location an hour from our place where I believed I could get an image of a buffalo in the storm. It took two hours to get to my destination due to the storm, and when I arrived the last of the snow was falling. I was able to capture a simple but beautiful image, one I would not have gotten had I stayed in the comfort of the condo. A lone buffalo standing defiantly against the new fallen snow. Engulfed in white its dark coat stands out in the snow.

 Lone Buffalo  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Lone Buffalo

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

 Wind and Snow  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Wind and Snow

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

 Frozen Sunrise  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Frozen Sunrise

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

There are many instances when cold and wind can cause us to question why we do what we do, but it is sunrises like this, howling winds and all, that make our early mornings worth the effort.

 Old Saltair  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Old Saltair

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

Next time you are on vacation with the family, don't be afraid to get out even if the weather doesn't seem promising. Some of the best images come from those brief moments of light in otherwise horrible conditions. If you have the time, stay out and I guarantee you will make a great image happen. I will leave you with one final image that I took after sitting in the rain and and fog for 3 hours with temperatures in the low 30's. This image is the best representation I have to express why it is so important to hold out for the perfect moment.  

 Storms On Mount Shuksan  © Andrew Lockwood 2017

Storms On Mount Shuksan

© Andrew Lockwood 2017

Until next time, safe travels...