Is There Bad Light in Landscape Photography?

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How often do you hear photographers say that there is nothing to shoot because the light is really bad? When you hear yourself using this as an excuse, change your perspective. Instead of putting away your camera, get creative!

Some Late Morning Shots

I took the following shot late in the morning during our stay on the Big Island of Hawaii. The brilliant sunbeams appeared as mist from ocean spray blew through the trees. To capture sunbeams like these, you need bright sunlight along with some mist or dust in the air. The particles in the air scatter the light and create sunbeams.

Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii (HI), USA

I took this second shot below to show you the conditions I was working with that morning. As you can see, the light was pretty harsh because the sun was up and there were no clouds. Most photographers would classify this as “bad light” – but I see this as a great time to stretch your creativity.

Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii (HI), USA

Some Midday Shots

Ok – so maybe this shot required certain conditions – the angle of the sun, the sea spray, the high trees near the beach. But this isn’t the only shot I took in bright sun while we were on the islands. I took each of the shots below when lighting conditions were less than optimal.

  • Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii (HI), USA

    Reflected Light in Hilo, Hawaii

  • House on Fire, Utah (UT), USA

  • Moriki Island, Fiji

Each of the shots above were taken during the middle of the day when the sun was located high in the sky. Image #1 was created when the harsh sunlight on the trees created some interesting patterns and colors. Image #2 was captured in Mule Canyon in Utah. The harsh reflected light was bouncing off the surrounding area and made the canyon walls glow. The third image required harsh sunlight to bring out the deep rich blue colors and textures in the tropical waters in Fiji.

Here are few more example of the images taken on a cloudless day in middle of the day:

  • Sea Urchin, Hawaii

    Sea Urchin in Bad Light, Hawaii

  • Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

    Crabs in afternoon sun at Sunset Beach, Mana Island, Fiji

  • Midday @ The Wave, Arizona

So, the next time you find  yourself thinking about bad light, think of how you can use your creativity to come away with some stunning photos instead. Feel free to share your own images in the comments below.

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams

  • Justin

    Well done. Effective image!

    • Thanks Justin. Creativity lets you maximize the use of our time in the field.