Landscape photographers are fortunate in many ways when compared to our colleagues in other photographic disciplines.
For the most part our subjects are static, we do not need to “pose” or cajole them, nor do we need to snap them before they fly off or run away. We do not have the pressure of knowing that we only have one-shot to tell the story we’re after and, despite our ego’s telling us otherwise, we rarely have the stress of knowing that our failure to deliver may well ruin someone’s “special day”.
Yes, there can be hours of walking or climbing with back-packs full of heavy gear just to get the shot we want, and yes, there can be delays and frustrations if the weather isn’t just how we’d like it, but, on the whole, I’m glad I’ve chosen Landscape photography and find it a lot less stressful than the other options.
The downside of all this though, is that many landscape photographers (and I’m including myself here) become lazy, restricting themselves to only shooting during the “Golden Hours” around sunrise and sunset, avoiding mid-day and poor weather conditions at all cost. How often do we simply roll over and go back to sleep if the weather isn’t looking too promising when we glance out of the window a few hours before sunrise on a cold, damp morning?
So, what’s my point?
Well, I recently posted a photograph on Facebook of a well-known loch in Glencoe, Scotland. The shot was taken during a particularly rainy day and to be honest, I really wasn’t convinced it was working, but, I persevered and shot a few frames. I was genuinely surprised at the reaction the image got, with more than 3000 views, shares, comments and “likes” within 12 hours of posting it online.
Now, while I was setting up this shot I counted three other photographers stop, look around at the scene and leave again without taking a single image. One even went so far as to set-up his tripod, and unpack the camera, stand around for a while hoping the light would “improve” then change his mind and pack it all up again without taking a photo!
Now, I’m not criticising this approach. As I’ve said, I’m as guilty as the next person for adopting the “it’ll be better next time I visit” attitude, but, if we adopt the approach of some of our more time restricted colleagues and try to retrieve something from a less than ideal situation, I believe our photography improves as a result.
These two photographs were taken from approximately the same location, one in reasonably nice (but cold) weather in April 2013. The other taken during very heavy rain in September 2013. Both shots were taken around mid-day.
I’m happier with the “bad light / poor weather” shot and feel that it adds to the drama and rugged feel of the landscape. Now, I know this light will not suit all possible landscapes, but, from now on whenever I get the opportunity to set out with my camera, poor weather may influence my choice of location, but, it will not stop me from heading out!
Don’t let “bad light” stop you either!