Landscape Photography Tips – Best Time To Capture Different Themes


In my recent post, I’ve shared Six Critical Steps To Plan Your Landscape Photography Trip In Iceland.  Today I’d like to further elaborate how you use the information collected from those six steps and plan your landscape photo activities and maximize the quality of your landscape photos

When photographing mountains…

… You want to stand to the east of the mountain during sunrise, or to the west of the mountain during sunset.  I’ve shared this video tutorial on Where To Stand For the Best Mountain Colors.  Of course it’s also plausible to get the side light illuminated on mountains, but it requires you to master lighting conditions and shadow contrast

When photographing hot springs or geysers…

…(eg. in Yellowstone or Geysir in Iceland), the best time is actually during 10am – 2pm on a sunny day.  Geysers will reflect the blue sky and strong sunlight and show the best colors.  Here is an article I wrote earlier with more details on photographing geysers.

When photographing trees or forest…

…such as maple trees in Canada or the yellow leaves in Colorado, the best season is fall and the best time is during golden hours (eg. 1 hour after sunrise or 1 hour before sunset) when the leaves show golden colors.  Here are some fall color examples I captured in Colorado

When photographing cityscape or city skyline…

…oftentimes you want to bet on night photography, at least one hour after sunset when the sky turns dark and lights are up.  Here are some tips on how to start night photography.

When photographing waterfalls, especially waterfalls with rainbow…

…you need to pick a time and the location when the sun is behind you.  Typically the rainbow is higher during early morning and lower closer to lunch time.  Of course if you don’t have filters and would like to photograph “silky” waterfalls, you might want to pick a cloudy day before sunrise or after sunset, when you can do long exposure.  See my video tutorials on How To Photograph Stunning Milky Waterfalls and When And How You Should Use Filters

When photographing northern light…

…you definitely need some basic knowledge of astronomy.  You need to pick not only the best location, eg. closer to Arctic (eg. Iceland or Alaska), the best season (eg. September or March), but also the best weather (eg. a clear night).  While I was in Iceland, I saw Northern Light 4 times and photographed it 3 times during my short two week trip.  It is because of my effort to check on on the following site (sometimes even in hourly basis)

When photographing sunrise or sunset clouds…

…typically a cloudy day within half an hour before or after sunset is best.  However the clouds can’t be too heavy to block the sun.  In my experience, in locations with altitude between 30-50°N, half an hour before sunrise, or half an hour after sunset, typically gives the best colors.  In Scandinavian countries such as Iceland with altitude more than 60°N, or in locations where you can see far into the horizon, one hour before sunrise (or one hour after sunset) already shows strong colors.

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