Like most photographers, I like shooting at the edge of the light to get great photos. The golden hour is always preferred. I love to shoot during something called the blue hour as well – when the sun is below the horizon, and the sky turns deep blue. Especially in the city, when the building lights start to come out, and you still have sunlight in the sky – that’s just magical.
Of course, the golden and blue hours are not the only times you can capture great photos. Some people will go out and shoot during sunrise at early morning, go back to their hotel for the rest of the morning then go back out again when it’s late in the afternoon. For landscape photographer golden hours provides a perfect opportunity to capture some stunning photos like the one you see below (Photos by Jay Patel):
Most of the time, I don’t have the luxury of wasting those hours. So I have to find places where the light is good in the middle of the day. What you see in the photo below is actually the reflection of a huge yellow building on the water surrounding a pair of Venetian gondolas. Even though the light coming from the sun was harsh, the reflected light became soft and warm. This created a nice contrast with the cooler light in the shade. So the trick here, when the sun is high in the sky, is to find a natural reflector. This will work wonders to get you great light, even at noon.
Reflections are not the only thing you can shoot at midday. For landscape photographers, midday provides some fantastic opportunities to capture unique images. Here are few examples:
You don’t have to limit yourself to natural light, either. The image below was taken at midnight in the streets of Seville during Semana Santa. Artificial light from the floodlights lit up the crowded street while the light from the candle illuminated the cloth of the penitential robe (typical dress worn during the Holy Week in Spain). The interplay of the two lights caught my eye.
Flash is not the only way to balance our natural vs Ambient light. If your subject is small enough you can shoot it in the shade, use your own body to create shade or use a small diffuser or reflector to balance out the light.
So if you – like me – can’t afford to waste time in the middle of the day, I encourage you to be creative with the light that’s available. Remember, you don’t always have to include the sky in your composition. Also, try using a natural reflector to soften the harsh afternoon rays. Artificial light, whether it’s the glow of the cityscape at the blue hour or floodlights at midnight, can have a magical effect as it interacts with other light sources. Whatever time of day you are shooting, the key is this: there is always good light available. You just have to find it.
Feel free to share your own tips and photos in the comments below.