Step #2 – Go to the light
While every genre of photography is technically “all about the light,” sweet light is the Mecca of the landscape photographer. Besides intensity, natural light has color and texture components that often get overlooked. It’s easy to do, and I sometimes find myself falling into the same trap.
Compositional issues aside, failing to recognize when the light just isn’t right is the most common reason for flat uninteresting photographs. It’s not a fluke that many successful landscape images are captured near sunset or sunrise. The soft warm light and long shadows that occur with the sun low in the sky can be magic on even an uninteresting scene. Physics tells us the blue wave lengths get filtered out when sunlight passed at a very low angle through the atmosphere. Photographers don’t often cite physics but often use the phrase “magic hour” to describe that time of day. Good images can certainly had during other conditions but if you’re not shooting during magic hour, you’re certainly missing opportunities.
This scene from Ixtapa Mexico was a flat uninteresting beach during the day. Add some clouds to soften the shadows, some warm light and some [wikipop]virga[/wikipop] to catch the last rays and it transforms into a beautifully serene scene.