Why don’t I shoot landscapes during the middle of the day?

There are almost always exceptions to rules and there are exceptions to this one. Don’t shoot your landscapes during the middle of the day.

Go visit Flickr or some other photo sharing website and pick out your favorite landscapes. More often than not they’ll have been taken when the sun was below or low to the horizon.

It’s not as obvious when you’re photographing in places as beautiful as Jasper National Park up here in Canada. The sheer beauty of the landscape can make an otherwise poor photo seem better than it really is. There is a reason that most landscape shooters only shoot in national parks. It makes them look like better photographers than they really are. It’s easier to take a “good” landscape in Jasper than it is in your back yard. In your back yard, you really have to pay attention to all the details to be successful. Here in Jasper it’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

The above photos were taken within meters of each other but during opposite ends of the day.

The beauty of light is not only what it reveals but what lack of it does. Lack of light hides detail. Lack of light adds mystery and an element of time and depth. It’s like the exotic dancer who bares everything. Nothing is left to the imagination and the dancer is less alluring or interesting. The mystery is gone.

Keep some mystery in your photos.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on September 28, 2011.

9 Responses to “Why don’t I shoot landscapes during the middle of the day?”

  1. Well I agree with you in the mountains. Yeah absolutely no point in shooting in hard midday light. But it can work in overcast conditions though. I would say do not use the definition to literally. ‘In the middle of the day’ basically means don’t go out shooting in hard light.
    If you’re shooting in your backyard I would say YES you can. And I’ve done it on more than one occasion. You just need to be aware and understand what the light is doing. Had some great succes shooting in full sun in the middle of the day (and yes even in winter when everything is white).

  2. @ Oli, from the first sentence, “There are almost always exceptions to rules and there are exceptions to this one.”

  3. very interesting post

  4. Great comparison and contrast, and I like how you zeroed in on “light” and what it is “doing” as I feel that is what it is all about more than time of day. And btw, I think both images are excellent although I find more mood, more serenity in the evening photograph.

  5. @ Brandon, thank you for visiting and commenting. We all have different ideas as to what looks great and what doesn’t. That’s one of the best things about the visual arts is that each of us can express ourselves differently and not be right or wrong. When you wrote the word “mood” you nailed it. Landscapes for me are about the mood or feeling of the land. When the shadows are long and the sun is low to the horizon is when the best stories can be told. IMHO LOL

    Thanks again for visiting,

  6. Lol. Duh. Yeah I’ve read that.
    I like you to show me an example of when it DOES work. You know. Be positive for a change. :)

  7. @ Oli, you have a blog. I’ll leave that part of the day for you to write about and show us how beautiful those images can be. :)

  8. Its the same with the Himalayas. The landscape is so beautiful that even someone blindfolded with a point and shoot camera can make great pictures.

  9. @ Sukanya, exactly. There is a difference between a landscape where the photographer has captured the mood of the place compared to shooting a pretty place at any time of the day or year with no thought to light, weather or mood.

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