We all see beautiful landscapes around us if we care to look. However, it often happens that when we try to photograph it, the resulting print looks rather bland and flat compared to what we remember seeing at the time.
The RAF (then Joint, now Defence) School of Photography had a motto (maybe it still has) which translated from the foreign language in which it was written means “We write with light”. This is a true saying and worthy of remembering, particularly where landscape photography is concerned. While the subject matter might look attractive, without good lighting the resulting photograph will be disappointing. It therefore follows that if you want to take some memorable landscapes which stand out by their own merits, then pay close attention to the lighting.
The two photographs featured here were taken in Scotland – I bet you would never have guessed! They both show Eilean Donan Castle, but from two very different view points and in very different lighting conditions.
If the photograph showing the rainbow over the distant castle had been taken a minute or so earlier, it would have looked extremely drab. Through the viewfinder, the shot looked OK, but it needed that extra “something” to bring it to life. There had just been a storm, and I noticed a break in the clouds and realised that if I hung around a bit, the scene might look more attractive in the encroaching sunlight, contrasting with the dark brooding clouds overhead. Well, the light washed its way across the landscape, and I could hardly believe my luck when this gorgeous rainbow appeared. The result speaks for itself.
The second shot of the castle, from much closer in, was taken in the evening shortly after sunset. In the daytime, the castle looks quite dramatic by virtue of its own architectural merits, but in the evening, it takes on a different life altogether, and in the right lighting makes for a much more attractive photograph. Apart from the clarity of the evening sky, the silhouetting of the castle itself, the hint of artificial light on the castle stonework, the reflections in the still water of the Loch put the final cherry on the cake.
Finally, I would suggest that you need to take a lot of landscapes and exercise a lot of patience to come up with the odd “cracker”, but he – or she who perseveres will be rewarded.
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