The single most important thing to landscape photography

willows, trees, winter, hoar frost, frost, snow, Alberta, prairie, landscape,

How to take consistently good and unique landscape photographs? What do you need or what do you need to know?

It isn’t cameras or lenses or spectacular locations. It’s nothing that you can buy. I certainly can’t sell you any.

I think that the most important thing that you can have/understand/possess is understanding the weather.

Some people obviously think that it’s location because I see many people driving long distances to photograph spectacular places but often in less than stellar light and weather. The result is a landscape of a very pretty place but it’s not  unlike the millions of photos taken from Lake Louise by tourists piling out of their buses for half an hour only to be stopping an hour later at an equally pretty place under the same unremarkable light/weather conditions.

When I mention weather I am at the same time talking about the quality of light. Weather affects light. The kind of weather that you will be looking for changes the light that illuminates your subject.

I learned a long time ago that I could get better landscapes close to home. I wrote recently about a well known landscape shooter who told about camping at the same spot for a week or at least until the conditions were right for a great and unusual image. Not everyone is as dedicated or obsessed about their photos. I think that like in all things a happy balance can be found. For me, shooting near home allows me access to the best weather. It’s only minutes away. The same applies to where you live.

I used to depend on local weather forecasts to help me to decide if or when to go out and then I stumbled upon the Clear Sky Charts that are used by astronomers to determine what the atmosphere will be like for astronomy. The charts are only ever 48 hours in advance and they are updated a few times a day.

In it you can view the things that are important to landscape shooters or astro photographers. Humidity. Wind. Percentage of cloud cover and especially for night photography how dark it will be depending upon sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset.

I check this website daily. Cleardarksky

Give it a look if you live in North America and see if it doesn’t improve your landscapes.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on November 16, 2013.

9 Responses to “The single most important thing to landscape photography”

  1. nice to have warm clothes:-)

  2. Hi Dan,
    I love your shots and you are totally right about light being a key issue in photography.
    The way I see it, though, is that the most important thing in any kind of photography (art, landscape, portraits, you name it) is something that a photographer either has or will never even understand: heart.
    Some tourists at Lake Louise have it, some professional photographers do not.

    It is about how to balance the lines, the full and the empty, the lighter and the dark, and this is not a mere sum of unique light conditions and craftmanship
    Handbooks can tell one a lot, but a fantastic shot is a mixture of craft, art … and heart.

  3. Stunning shot and composition, Dan.

  4. Thank you Jane. Lots and lots of snow the last couple of days. It’s only going to get prettier!

  5. Fantastic photos ~ your shots have a sense of the surreal. Beautiful work.

  6. Thank you Randall for visiting and commenting,

  7. Hi Dan,

    Great winter scene. Winter scenes are some of my favorite. Not only is weather important for lighting, but the seasons are as well. I always find the colors and where the light lands (because of the angle of the sun) in the winter, will give you a different look in the same spot at a different time of year. So much variety. That’s why I love photography!!

  8. Hi Gord and thank you.

    Winter is my favorite season but they’re all nice. Thank you for visiting and commenting,

  9. Really gorgeous shot! Love the pink glow.

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