I’ve already said it, and I’ll say it again. Landscape photography is all about light. If you want to improve your pictures, one of the easiest ways to do so is to pay attention to the light and make your images when the light shows you its best side.
In this image, taken looking out across the Great Meadow towards Sieur de Monts, there’s a colorful line of trees in the meadow, lying in the shadow of Dorr Mountain. On this day, with the sun occasionally peeking through thick cloud cover from time to time, the trees lit up beautifully for just a few seconds while the mountainside beyond lay in shadow.
When I first arrived, I noticed the clouds moving quickly across the sky. Everything was still in shadow but I could see a hole in the clouds off to the right. As I watched them, I knew that if I waited long enough, the sun would eventually shine through the hole in the clouds, light up the line of trees while keeping the mountainside in shadow, which is just what it did in the end. But it took time, about twenty minutes all together.
While I waited, dozens of people came by. Everyone looked at the scene– covered in shadow– took a picture, then moved on. I wanted to tell people to just wait. If they only looked up at the sky, saw the break in the clouds and realized the possibilities, some of them might have stuck around to see the beautifully lit trees I did.
Patience. It’s what you need for truly great landscape photography. Luck plays a part too, but if you watch the weather conditions and realize the possibilities, then wait for them to happen, you can get dramatically better photos. I realize we don’t all have twenty minutes, or an hour, or three hours to wait, but when you do take the time to wait for the light, the rewards can be great.
[this blog post originally appeared in the 2017 edition of the Photographers Guide to Acadia. All rights reserved.]