I’m writing to you guys as a last resort. I usually don’t solicit my blog for ideas on how to do my job, but I’m really kinda stumped on this one. The easy thing would be to say that I’m right, and point to hundreds (if not thousands) of quotes, education, and training materials before me, showing the importance of what I’m talking about. But I’ve realized that enough people have shown concern about this topic, that it has to be real. That I’m doing something wrong in the way I’m approaching it. And I honestly want to figure out a solution. That’s where you come in.
So…I’m copying an email below. In a nutshell, the email is a response to a video where I did some photo critiques. From what I recall, I often had to hit home on the need to get out there in good light. Obviously all of the names and references to what they’re talking about are removed, and from what I can see this person isn’t even a paying customer of anything I do (the video he’s referencing was free). But the reason I’m writing this it that I’m stumped because (in many nicer ways) I’ve been seeing a large amount of people revolting against getting out there in good light to take photos lately. It’s something I’ve never seen in 15 years of photography education, but it’s popping up more and more lately in some discussions that I’ve been in.
Anyway, here’s the email – pretty much unedited, with all mis-spellings and multiple uses of “whilst” intact 🙂
The other matter is addressed specifically to your presenters. I have a gripe regarding critiques. Great play is given to shooting during the early or late hours of the day. May I be so bold as to suggest that any photographer with a modicome of expertise is able to capture quality images (based on light rather than composition) during these time periods. However, what about the situation whilst travelling where is not possible to be at a location at these preferred times (say during summer whilst on vacation abroad where it is either too early or too late to be present when on tours/visits). You need to capture images when you can. Surely some emphasis should be given in your training in the use of your specific software to improving the light, luminosity, colors etc. on these images. I think that I have made reasonable adjustments to enhance images for these situations but can always be better at it. If you are a Lightroom/Photoshop subscriber you do not need ON1 for the “ideal light” shots. A “little” tweaking using luminosity masks in PS on 16bit RAW images will achieve nearly all that is necessary – the light conditions will do the rest. For those not ideal lighting conditions, that is where a plug in software like ON1 should be coming to the fore to assist. Perhaps your trainers (who do seem to bask in their own praise) do not have the expertise to advise on these scenarios.
I’m Not Really Worried About The Jab About “Basking in My Own Praise” Part
There’s one part in the email where he takes a shot at me and the other people doing the critiques. He says something about basking in our own praise. Before we get started, I’m actually not really worried about that part and I’m reading beyond that to the original point in his email. If you’re on this blog, you know me. And you know that I’m very respectful to everyone I come in contact with. If you’ve taken the time and trust to send me a photo to review, I consider it a privilege that you’ve chosen me to learn from. I think most of you reading this article know that I would never betray that trust, and that I’d be nothing but respectful to you. So I’m chalking that statement up to the fact that he’s just sour about everything. Which is fine. I’m not going to resonate with everyone out there, and (after 15 years in education) I’ve come to grips with that.
What Worries Me Is This…
Here’s the line that really worries me.
May I be so bold as to suggest that any photographer with a modicome of expertise is able to capture quality images (based on light rather than composition) during these time periods
This one stumps me too.
Surely some emphasis should be given in your training in the use of your specific software to improving the light
Why It Worries Me
I’m not really worried over this one email. He actually is being a troll (if you saw the first paragraph in his email you’d agree with me). I usually don’t feed the trolls and ignore the comments. What worries me is that I’ve been hearing this feeling (about not getting out there in good light) a lot lately (by people that I know aren’t trolls). More than I ever have actually. And it’s really taken me by surprise because I’ve always thought good light to be one of the most important parts of photography.
Just as I’d never think anyone would complain if I told them to take the lens cap off their lens before taking a photo, I never thought people would revolt over being told to get out there in good light, to make good photos. And, I guess I didn’t know people had so much faith in post-processing to think that you actually could make a photo look like sunrise or sunset with filters or plug-ins.
A Little Back Story
I’ve been doing a lot of photo critiques and reviews lately, and the topic of light is coming up quite a bit. I’ve seen a lot of photos that look great. But I find myself saying “Now take this photo in better light and you have a real winner”. But I always preface that response by letting people know that I realize they can’t always get back there to take that photo in good light. And that I realize that sometimes, while traveling, you don’t get a choice. The tour bus, or the tourist location, or your schedule doesn’t permit for you to be there during the magical light at the edges of the day. Or, maybe you did everything right. You got to a great place at the right time of day, and the weather didn’t cooperate with you.
I totally get it. This has happened to me more times than I can count. But that doesn’t mean that good light isn’t important. And the responses I’m getting are more than just a casual complaint or frustration to not being able to be there at the right time of day. What I’m seeing is actually taking the form of a (friendly/mild) revolt against good light. One comment says something about “yeah, but light isn’t everything” and people pile on and jump in and agree.
So What Do I Do? What’s the Fix?
I have no idea! That’s why I’m asking you 🙂 As a person who truly believes that great landscape photos need 1 of (preferably both) two things: 1) Great locations, 2) Great light… I have no idea what to say. Mind you, if you’re reading this… OR… if you’re one of the ones that left one of those “light isn’t that important is it?” comments, I think you want the next level of photo. I don’t think you’re like my neighbor. They have 2 kids, bought a cheap point and shoot, and said something one time about wishing they could take better photos. They probably do wish they could, but they’re not really invested in it. They probably wish they could take better photos just like they wish they were better at flossing twice a day 😉 It’s cool. I think everyone “wishes” they could take a better photo.
But I believe the people reading this and following my training are different. You’re invested. You’ve paid thousands of dollars for camera equipment. Hundreds of dollars in software and training. And you want that next level of photo. I feel like I’m giving the info on how to get the shots, but they’re saying back “no, you’re wrong – there’s another way to get a great landscape photo that doesn’t include a great location or great light”.
In the end though, I don’t have a “fix”. I don’t have a magical setting in my camera, that I turn on in mid-day that allows me to capture great photos. Heck, I don’t even have a subject matter that I fall back on if the light is yucky to try to salvage a shoot. And I don’t have a magical filter in ON1 or Lightroom or Photoshop that I use to make my 12-noon photo look like it was taken at sunrise/sunset. Sure, I have tricks to get a little more warmth out of the light on a gray overcast day, but nothing to give the amazing look of the sky and clouds, and light that you get at sunrise/sunset. That “fixed” photo will look ok and I’ll salvage it. But it’s never going to live up to a photo that I’m truly excited about.
What do I do with those photos? They become memories. I go in to history documenting mode, and realize that I’m now capturing photos to document the fact I was here. Some of the photos make it in to a photo book of my trip. Some may even get shared online. I’m not saying throw them away, or don’t take them. But there is a difference between a good photo and a great photo. And when you send your photo in for a critique, I believe you’re asking for an honest evaluation of that photo and what can help take it from good to great.
In my critiques, I try to hone in on these concepts because I think every person looks at photography that inspires them, and sometimes wishes their photos looked as good. But you don’t know why. I want to try to help you realize that, sometimes, the issue isn’t something that you did. Sometimes you were just unlucky. And rather than have you spend hours and hours trying to edit a photo that won’t look the way you hoped it would, I’d like to help you realize that maybe is not your fault – maybe you were there at the wrong time of day. Know it… make the best photo you can at that point (which most people usually do) and hopefully spend some of your time wisely after that.
Anyway, thanks for stopping by and thanks for putting up with me asking you how to do my job. I honestly want to help. I don’t just want to be the robot saying over and over again “Great locations… great light!!!”. This has raised itself to enough people that I know I’m doing something wrong in the way I’m trying to communicate it. So now I want to figure out why, and start to help. Thanks!
Have a good one!
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Some quick thoughts. The pictures of my son have been in a few rounds of the critiques, and in an episode of “your photo our look” you’re an incredibly tactful person, if I started to thank you completely for the honest feedback I have received you’d probably be reading a novel, to spare you I will simply say thank you!! I have felt my photography go to a completely different level thanks to your critiques. Its simple, I trust your judgement. As for the time of day, we know what is appealing to the eye, you said in a class once “the photos that got you into landscape photography were probably taken at these hours” its a VALID statement, I do agree there are exceptions to the rules and despite the differences of opinions out there I know what works for me and that is golden hours. As for software, I treat photography as an art not a science and I think the numerous mediums available for photo editing today allow us to take artistic freedoms and let the post processing be fun and creative. Photoshop or On1 cannot out work failed fundamentals behind the camera. Thanks again Matt!
Thanks Aaron. Glad to help! 🙂
My approach is similar to the comment to decide whether you’re a tourist or a photographer. For me, it’s about the picture I’m trying to take, not my overall goal. When I go on a really special trip, I plan for “photography” and I plan for “tourism.” While my wife slept in, I walked around downtown Charleston at sunrise and got fantastic photos. Between 10 and 5 while we were walking around, our pictures are mostly from our smartphones, although I do have the DSLR with me (with a 28-300 attached) “just in case.”
The answer to the question how do I change a picture in good light to be a great picture, for me, is “change the picture.” If you’re taking a landscape photograph in order to be great, the light has to be great. End of story. Maybe that’s sunrise, maybe that’s sunset, maybe that’s at 3 pm, when the post-storm sun is sending streams of light all over a mountainside. Generally speaking, though, if you miss the sunrise by even 5 minutes, guess what? You missed it. But who were you with? Why were you there? Capture THOSE moments. And try agin the next day.
Last year I was with my family in Germany. We were at the Reichstag in Berlin in the middle of the afternoon on a cloudy, gloomy day. Blech. So we took shots of us making “silly faces” with the Reichstag in the background. (Not because the building is silly, but because kids are kids.) Now that the trip has faded, it’s one of our favorite sets of pictures. True that’s not a “landscape,” but the same concept applies.
i think i would be happy if my respected teacher comments my photo with “Now take this photo in better light and you have a real winner”. Why? Because for me that means i made a shot that is as good as possible at that given time. Getting a comment what i could do better next time is very helpful.
Please keep on doing things the way you did. I learned a lot and i like what i hear an read.
Greetings from Germany
Hi, Matt – I may be coming to this discussion too late, but I do have an idea. I’ve read the troll email and heard you say that more and more people are asking you for help when photographing in other than perfect light. I’m wondering if their question isn’t so much about when is light lemonade but more how do I make lemonade out of lemon light. I loved the suggestion of showing comparative photos taken in the same location at different times of the day. You might also demonstrate how you would post process each of the photos. I think there is no question which photo we would prefer. However, as has also been mentioned, we do have some tools in our toolbox to improve on a photo taken during midday. And I believe that’s what you are being asked to provide. Some thoughts on those tools: Reflectors and light filters won’t help with vast landscape photographs but will help a lot with intimate landscape photos – so will shade, so we can look for more intimate photo ops during midday. In post processing, we can drop the highlights, raise the shadows, and change the color cast. Or we can bracket for HDR and learn how to post process those. Or we can learn the intricacies of Luminosity Masks. Or we can convert to black and white and see if that helps. What I’m suggesting is letting people know what they CAN do when the only light they have is less than ideal. And if you show the same photo taken in different light and post process both with the best tools you have, your viewers and readers will see for themselves not only why photographers prefer golden light but also how to make the most of whatever light they have.
Photography means ” Light Writing” that’s why we do it. It requires sacrifice and patience. The Sun and Moon only behave the way they want to and you have to be there when the light is right. Landscape photography requires being at the mercy of nature.
The comments of the naysayers tell me they should not endeavor landscape photography, but focus on something they can control, like studio photos.
The reward for our efforts is the light we capture.
How does the saying go? “You can please most of the people most of the time….”. I think that your statement of seeking out the the best possible light makes perfect sense, it’s what I have tried to do for the past 36 years, sure you can trick up a shot in poor light with photoshop/ Lightroom and using presets etc, but some of us prefer to try to get the best shot possible out of the camera and for that it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s the light that creates the image. As Landscapers we are often referred to as “light chasers”, I have yet to chase poor light to get my best shots, I love to shoot, I love to be out there looking for opportunities to take great shots…. I love it all, I could never be happy taking any old shot and tricking it up indoors, I’d rather do something else. So yeah I get what your saying, yeah I couldn’t agree more with what you rightly say, but no I wouldn’t worry about what one individual in thousands might have to say… You’re right so let him sit behind his computer tricking up shots from poor light.
If people is lazy enough to not get up very early in the morning to catch the best light possible, is their problem. If their problem is that the tour bus leaves before the good light or arrives after the good one, so don’t get on that bus, I consider myself a travel photographer, I’ve been to many parts of the world, some very remote parts of the world, where there is not even tour buses or taxis to go around, but there are ways to achieve your goals, and that’s also part of the adventure of travel and landscape photography, in fact is one of the most exciting parts in my opinion. These people that are not willing to adventure themselves out of their comfort zone is obvious that are going to be angry or jealous of the people that do this kind of things, and their photos are never going to be as good.
Photo it means light, so the best photos comes with the best light in first place, and then it comes composition, subject, technique and everything else.
If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about this kind of comments.
Take care and keep it up!
The answer is what your instincts are. You know the best photos usually occur around dawn and dusk with the occasional rare exception like right before or after a storm, lifting fog, or shooting a some-what interior landscape (like from inside a barn looking out a window bathed in a light beam or something). Like most landscape photographers 98% of my portfolio was shot at dawn or dusk or milky way times. 1% within a couple hours of dawn or dusk and 1% at other times.
I almost wonder if this comment is trying to punk you. What software can you offer that makes a photo at high noon better? Lol. The answer, none, there never will be, and even if there ever were it would be all fake, and that’s not as fun as enhancing reality when you should be shooting.
As for his comment about how vacations aren’t conducive to shooting at dawn and dusk, guess what he’s right, “real people” vacations aren’t. If you want to shoot on a real people vacation you should be able to do several shoots at sunrise while people are still sleeping, and maybe a few sunsets, but you will have to accept you won’t be able to get out there for every shot. You will have to compromise with both yourself and your party, and understand that this is not a photography workshop and you shouldn’t be inconveniencing the whole group the entire time. I’ve been late to breakfast or missed dinner because I’m shooting on real people vacations, most of the time the group is fine with it as long as I’m not messing up their schedule. I find my own way to get food or catch up with the group and never make them go out of their way to help me do that. Or, you can travel alone, like I do a lot–a healthy mix of real people vacations and solo photography trips.
I took his comment about early and late call times as quite amateur. Whenever I go on vacations now I’m exhausted because I get up early and stay out late and sometimes even do a few night shoots. I get much more rest and relaxation during “regular” days not on vacation, when I just go to work every day, ha. Sometimes, I look forward to the vacation being over if only to rest!! But, I love making a great photograph in a great place more than I love my sleep on vacation.
Bottom line is if you don’t want to figure out a way to shoot at dawn/dusk or lose some sleep doing so, you’re not REALLY cut out for landscape photography. Go take up portraits or studio lighting or leave photography all together.
…..I think we’re all feeding the troll and you should have deleted the comment, but at least it sparked a few thoughts of mine having travelled before on a “real” vacation and tried to shoot photos, and how to do so without being rude or a terrible travel partner.
The writers comment reflects the incorrect belief that with modern sensors and lenses, the frame captures itself. It also reflects a bit of immaturity, and I’m not sure it selves you or your readers to delve into it too much. We love your work and insights into photography – which you share freely here and through your work with OnOne. I personally followed you to OnOne and purchased their suite based on your endorsement and free demos. All that being said, there is something to exploring how to make great shots in bad light. Many of us have larger family responsibilities, and work our photography into family trips where it is difficult to always be at a location when the light is best. So maybe the legitimate take away is that it may be worth mentioning when you teach how you would deal with the lighting if it were another time of day. (Giving you full credit – you actually did this recently with a dessert shoot at dusk, noting that it would have been packed at dawn). Keep on keeping on!
For a long time I have tried to come up with a “positive” way to comment on the subject of “good light” – and not just here. I totally agree that early morning and evening light (and the later, “afterglow”) can provide pleasing images. I also agree that, when there is not stormy or cloudy weather, the light during the day can be harsh, and create harsh, strong shadows. That having been said, however, over the years (and especially with the advent of digital cameras) I have seen a LOT of saturated color photos taken at the “right time” and at the “right place”. Not surprisingly, they all look remarkably the same. After the first few hundred/thousand it can become, if not clichéd, at least a bit boring. The same thing applies to long exposures and water: the first thousand were kind of interesting – but not EVERY photo of moving water should receive that treatment. Again, I’m trying to not be negative. Using any technique (and/or lighting situation)can create either interesting images or not. My basic concern is the “sameness” I see in landscape photography: lighting, subject matter and saturation. I DO think that the “golden hour” gives lighting opportunities that can be really pleasing – but I also think that harsh lighting – and the accompanying shadows, can be used to great advantage with certain b & w images, and that stormy skies and “dead” lighting can provide an eeriness that isn’t available with “better” lighting.
I’m sorry this is so long, and again, there is no criticism implied – just a reminder that we all “see” things our own way, and sometimes that means not doing things the way everyone else does. As a side note, I did (as a sort of test)submit a photo to the critique. The critique was well done and positive, but you were not enamored with the subject matter (a church ruin). I called it a test, because prints of this image have sold well, in framed sizes up to 28″ x 40″. I live and show in the Southwest, and people that come here want this type of subject matter – they want something that reminds them of either their visit, or why they live here. It’s important to keep in mind your market, and not just assume that everyone wants pictures of oceans and sunsets, etc. And that image was taken on a stormy day, early afternoon…
I am far from a photography expert. I have submitted two photos for critique. I received a good critique on one and a not so good critique on the other. I am grateful for the constructive criticism and appreciated another point of view. I understand that landscape photos taken at early light or late light are much more pleasing that those at mid day. I have seen this in other peoples photos and have experienced it in mine as well. And I believe that if I want to become a better landscape photographer I must discipline myself to try to get those “best light” situations.
I think we need to understand who our “market” is. Most of the people who look at my photos are not the so called “experts”. I find that they appreciate my photos for the scene and composition as much as they do the lighting. I don’t know that everyone understands how important lighting is. I know I didn’t for a long time and still don’t completely understand it. I have heard you guys say that “I’d rather have a picture of a close line in great light than a picture of the Taj Mahal in poor light”. I can assure you that if I put those two pictures on my website, I would get 100 times more likes on the poor lighted Taj Mahal than the well lit close line”. I’m not saying that the quote is incorrect, I just don’t think it fits with the marketplace of the average viewer.
You know people are going to disagree with you no matter what you say. We all realize that we can’t be in the perfect light for all landscape photos. But we can try. My advice to you is to continue to say what you believe is correct and let the chips fall where they may. I have appreciated the critiques that you and Hudson have given on this site. Not everyone is going to agree with you, and that is OK too! Please don’t take anything too personal.
Matt, I think you are kind and gentle with your critiques and find it difficult to imagine how anyone could take umbrage with them.
I get the “good light in good location” thing, but I don’t manage either very often, nevermind both. So I take photos because I like to but don’t expect too many worldbeaters. Meanwhile, I like to click the shutter, and I figure the practice can’t hurt.
Some people just “don’t get it” no matter what you say or do. So, all I can advise is that you continue to do your best and move on. Maybe they will “get it” someday, but probably not.
Matt, Let me be clear up front. I’m a fan. I’ve followed your work and your blog for years. I love your style of photography and I incorporate a ton of your tips, tricks, and methods into my own. Let’s also be clear that I think the OP is a total troll and not to be taken seriously on objective matters (ie. “Light doesn’t matter, you can just fix it in post-” or “Composition doesn’t matter if the light’s right”).
That said, let me play Devil’s Advocate. Photography, like all art, is a subjective medium. Sure, there are generally accepted principles and industry consensus on what’s “best”, but at the end of the day there has to be some allowance for personal taste.
And so I admit, the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear someone in a position of authority (like, say, a course instructor) proclaim, “You can’t *possibly* take a “good” landscape picture without it being at sunrise or sunset…” It’s reminiscent of hearing a record label A&R man of the early 2000’s state: “We can’t *possibly* let people just put their own music on YouTube or iTunes and have the public decide what’s good… only us *professionals* are qualified to do that” There’s a hint of elitism present there (and, if we’re being honest, in the previous comments to this thread) about what makes a “good” photo or a “real” photographer. Perhaps the piling on in the comment threads is less about “light isn’t everything” and more about the tone that the advice takes on.
Personally, I agree with you about what makes a “good” landscape photo, and that’s what I strive for. But maybe a softening of the rhetoric is in order? And that’s where the examples come into play. “Here’s Photo A taken at noon and Photo B taken at sunset. Personally, I prefer Photo B and I think a lot of people would agree. If you want your photos to look more like Photo B than Photo A, then the only way to get there is to shoot during the Golden Hours.” as opposed to “If you don’t shoot during the Golden Hours, your photos will look like shite” with the implied addendum “because you’re an amateur, not a professional…”
Hopefully this comes across as constructive, as I feel far closer to your side of the argument than the “masked emailer”, but I’ve been on the interwebs long enough to don my flamesuit before posting on a contentious topic. 🙂 Thanks for the great work, and please keep it up!
Poor Matt! You have just seen in writing the attitude that made me give up membership in a photography club that I enjoyed for more years than I want to tell. I am from the old school, when it was hard as hell to get a truly good photograph on a strip of film, develop the film, and print the photo. When we were finished, we were lucky if we kept one photo out of the many taken at each outing. Now, my telephone takes decent shots without trying. There is no denying the the digital camera has changed forever the art and the business of taking pictures. For that reason, everyone has become a “photographer.” And because they think that they don’t have to, no one works hard to get the really great photographs; the kind that you and your fans are trying so hard to produce with the tools available.
The person that wrote the email is the kind of picture-taker that thinks that Ansel Adams was nuts to lug that heavy view camera into the mountains. Obviously, nothing you can say or write to him will penetrate what must be the thickest skull this side of an NFL Linebacker.
I have to tell you that I have followed your career almost since you first started doing tutorials for Kelby. I liked everyone at that place, but I always felt that you touched your readers and viewers more than most. And because you are so sincere, and have worked so long and hard to be in the position that you are in today, you are too easy to reach – and to be hurt by some idiot who still can’t figure out what that “A” on the dial is for. Take a deep breath – walk away from it all and go home. When you come back tomorrow, all will be right with the world. Just keep on giving encouragement and help to all of us who would love to be able to do what you do, how you do it, and get the results you get.
well said, Jerry.
Just a thought, I agree that there is nothing like truly great light, so no argument there. What I’m wondering about is the number of photos that show up in travel magazines with bright blue skies and people assume that that is how photos are supposed to be made. I’ll stick to the golden hours whenever possible and make do when traveling and can’t get to all the places I’d like to at the best times of the day knowing that they aren’t necessarily great shots but a record of where I’ve been.
Some great comments above and a great subject.
My question is how many people use post processing to make an image taken at dawn or dusk look like it was taken at mid day?
Gee, I always thought “good” or “better” meant good or better. I guess eating a mouthful of cream, teaspoon of sugar and some crushed ice is just as good as ice cream. It would be fixed in post.
Having read the post and the replies, I understand the confusion that arises. Too many times critiques only point out deficiencies and do not acknowledge that some of the images were good with the comments intended to make the images better.
The concept of good light seems to give some people trouble. Light is neither good or bad. It is something that the photographer uses and sometimes manipulates to obtain a desired result. Manipulating light may be with reflectors, diffusers or scrims, a tree (shade), a single flash or a case of flash units, or waiting until nature delivers the light appropriate for the desired image. O. Winston Link designed and built the flash equipment using lots of flashbulbs to obtain some of his steam locomotive images. For this work, the golden light was from his flash system used long after sunset.
The idea that a filter in softwear or a plug-in should fix all issues with an image is the result of technology delivering instant gratification so often that we have come to expect it. If the FM radio station is not playing the song you like, you just change to your mp3 player or switch to your satellite radio. Nothing on TV, look at what is available from the gazillion cable/satellite channels or “On Demand”. You could even programming online. Are you feeling bad? The doctor will prescribe something to have you feeling better quickly. These are just a few of the things that have conditioned us to expect that everything can be done almost instantly with minimal effort.
I think that showing a comparison of images taken at the same spot in good light and bad light to show the differences would help. We were in Yellowstone last fall, and after 3 days of rain, finally had a forecast for good weather. Up early to photograph the canyon. When we left the lodge we found heavy fog, and wondered how things would turn out, but had some awesome picture opportunities when we got to the canyon. My girl friend wanted to see how things would look later in the day, so we went back after breakfast when the fog finished burning off. Simply put, yuk. Hard shadows and extremely bright areas. But the stuff we got early when we were the only ones there are treasured.
Is it true “that any photographer with a modicome of expertise is able to capture quality images (based on light rather than composition)”? Personally I don’t think so, if I was easily able to produce great photographs in great light then I would always produce great photos. Unfortunately this is simply not possible and I’m sure I posses a “modicome of expertise”. It may be true that a greater number of mediocre images are produced during times of great light by those of us with equipment, skill and an eye for composition.
I am a novice landscape photographer, but I am resigned to be a tourist one.
I go on holiday with my wife to some great places Australia, New Zealand etc but I have to take pictures with the light as it is.
I realise that I am not going to get great shots like you and others do, but thats ok for me.
We are capturing “light” and how the scene when we observed it, I do not want to manipulate it so it looks completely different to how I remember it although I believe slight corrections are ok
All of this does not mean that I do not really enjoy following the workflow that you teach and I practice using the techniques, you never know one day I will be able to put them to good use.
You are a great teacher carry on the good work
First of all, if the light is not good enough, its nobodies fault but yours. Plan your travel ahead. Watch weather forecasts. Watch were you stay the night before. Have alternates in mind for what you might encounter. Get out of bed when you need to. Its not about the excuses, its about the effort put into the project.
Second, use your eyes. If its not a waterfall day it maybe a wildlife day or a bridges or people. Adapt, don’t feel sorry.
Third, know your equipment. You can a pull a pretty great sunset out a bland evening with the right processing. Somedays/ some subjects a monochrome image looks right. Lighting can change in appearance with the use of a vignette in processing. Don’t be afraid to change the color balance to what you or the subject needs. As somebody else suggest a reflector (or maybe a umbrella to create shade) to modify what you find. Try an alley way for soft light on bright sunny day. The only limit is the amount of effort you expend.
Great thoughts Tim – though I will disagree with one point. “If the light is not good enough, it’s nobody’s fault but yours”. I think I may have less to do with the weather forecast than you think 😉 LOL!
You win 🙂
Well, certainly the celebrated and “sold the most” photograph will be the one with the gorgeous sunrise or sunset and for that there is no substitute. Simply can’t duplicate the light fall and the shadows with software. For me, it comes down to the available market or personal nich one wants to hit. I shoot at all times during the day and have gotten some pretty good shots during the daytime. The question becomes, what did I want to achieve with that particular shot? If I wanted a smooth transition and no blaring highlights, then I need to be out there when the light is the softest. And if it suits my purpose to have those highlights in the photograph, then the middle of the day is right. A cloudy day is my personal favorite.
Each photographer has to decide what is best for him/her and their available market or personal agenda, not what is right for someone else, or some rule created by someone. Teaching is a talent that few have and you and your partners have an abundance of talent to offer and I THANK YOU for it. Critisizing ones ability does not dimminsh that abilty, only the critisizer’s own credibility. So keep it coming Matt. You are not wrong!
It seems to me this is really about two things. First, what is a great photo? When we all first started with a camera a great photo to us was a focused shot with an exposure that had the subject lit a we expected. As the skills in our craft ramp up the nature of what we consider a great photo changes. Maybe some people (including the original poster/commentator) just have a different understanding of what is “great”. I recently visited the National Gallery of Art. Clearly, I do not have the same level of understanding of “great” art as the curators. So maybe the people who just want a midday “tweak” just have a different level of expectation for their photography.
The second part, which several other people touched on, is how much effort do we put in our craft and art. If the light is best at 0500 do we get up at 0-dark-thirty? Or do other factors mitigate the impulse and we opt to not wake the sleeping baby/spouse/muse? I’ve traveled on non-photographic tours in foreign places. I’ve traveled on photo tours. I think it all comes back to a person’s goal for their photography. In the end, isn’t it about what makes as individuals satisfied with our work? And yes, at this point I hear a certain 60’s band singing Cain’t get no…
Sorry for the long post. Keep up the good work.
Ask a wedding photographer what he does in rubbish light, he will use a reflecter or better background or angle or choose a different area to shoot, you have to do your best under those conditions.
We see so many landscape shots in perfect light at sunrise sunset that we get conditioned to thinking that any other light is a waste of time, but its not, look at the old masters who used b&w film, the light is not always perfect but they got great work from working with the given conditions.
Hey Robin – I do agree we’re conditioned, but I think that’s an evolution in photography. Photography is more accessible to more people now. As a result, more people (who are willing to do what they have to do) are able to get out there and be creative and push the boundary. Photography used to be a very “geeky” thing. Now it’s creative. Creatives, not techies can approach it and push the boundaries of the results we get.
As for the old masters… I agree. Great work for the time. But an evolution has taken place whether you like it or not. Photos taken 50 years ago don’t always stand up to what we can do today. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate and get inspired by what was done – but it’s different today. Kind of like athletes… there’s a reason why records that we thought would never break growing up get broken – technology changes, people change, training and education change and we’re able to continually push. Color wasn’t as important in a B&W day of some of the old masters. Today it most certainly is though.
Photography is all about the light, so if you want to get better you need to chase the light. All of my images that I consider good have great lighting, and my favorite travel photo was taken at sunset in Italy.
I do shot at lunch time as this is an hour I have free, but this time is used for experimenting and playing with shadows. To your reader that says light isn’t that important, I say they are not learning photography. You can ignore them. They will either learn on their own or not.
Keep up the great articles!
I read the article, but I have not read the comments so if I am repeating something forgive me.
First, light is EVERYTHING. Without some kind of light, you can’t create an image. Period. To say the thing that is the most vital piece of photography isn’t that important is crazy to me.
Secondly, if someone admits software like On1 will help enhance your image taken at mid day, then why wouldn’t it help enhance your image taken at ANY time of day? To say you only need it for mid-day shots baffles me. I just don’t get that part. It’s like saying bacon is only good in the mornings…absurd! 😉
I tell my students that if you can learn to get up early and carry a tripod, you’ve got a large majority of this thing licked already. Those seem to be the two biggest gripes at every workshop. Do I REALLY have to carry this tripod? Do we REALLY have to get up and leave so early?
Maybe your next letter can be “Why do you always suggest tripods when you know I can always raise my ISO to 102,400? instead?”. 😉 (Sadly, you’ve probably already gotten that one)
I think you are seeing a symptom of the times we live in many people want the result quickly without putting in the effort, why do products these days only ship with a quick start guide same reason!
Mario has a great point “there comes a time when you have to decide whether you want to be a tourist or a photographer”
People need to be realistic and accept that the stunning shots come in the great light and conditions that you get by getting up painfully early and going out week after week after week many times coming back empty handed, there is nothing wrong in getting the absolute best shot you can in the situation you are in.
Many times I have been on tours and wished for the stunning light but I know that’s not going to happen so I make the best shot I can with what I have and vow to remember my driving license next time so I can hire a car.
When I go on holiday I am the bane of the night security mans life as he has to unlock the hotel doors for me as I go out at 4am to get the good light then its back to the hotel wake the wife up in time for breakfast and then sleep by the pool later.
It comes down to if you want the best results you have to put in the effort and for landscape photography that means painfully early starts week after week.
Photography is a medium. The photos I treasure visually can be combat images, insane images (changing a light bulb on top of the skyscraper from above), animals (a Moose critter), travel to places I’ve never been and to places I remember, to landscapes of nature, and crazy people (family). In short photography is highly personal. As a photographer I want to be the best I can be in all these endeavors. The hardest are places you have to be at the right time due to light and people, and to shoot from aesthetically the best location you can. Yes, the software can help you, but the image starts in your head. There are times you want to change it to make it better, and times you have to leave it alone as a photojournalist. Understanding the light can be the most difficult because you have to see what isn’t there YET but may be. Having a camera in your hand can mean all of these things and NONE of them until you are older and more experienced. Life is a kick in the rear end sometimes.
This one stumps me too.
Surely some emphasis should be given in your training in the use of your specific software to improving the light
Sure, I have tricks to get a little more warmth out of the light on a gray overcast day, but nothing to give the amazing look of the sky and clouds, and light that you get at sunrise/sunset. That “fixed” photo will look ok and I’ll salvage it. But it’s never going to live up to a photo that I’m truly excited about.
What do I do with those photos? They become memories. I go in to history documenting mode, and realize that I’m now capturing photos to document the fact I was here. Some of the photos make it in to a photo book of my trip. Some may even get shared online. I’m not saying throw them away, or don’t take them. But there is a difference between a good photo and a great photo. And when you send your photo in for a critique, I believe you’re asking for an honest evaluation of that photo and what can help take it from good to great.
I think, and I could be wrong here, that the person who emailed you is not looking to go from good to great. They are looking for instruction on going from bad to good.
They have photos taken on tour at mid-day and they think that there must be ways to get them to look much better than they do SOOC. And there are lots of ways.
Certainly, the end result may never equal what could have been if they were there at the right time and in the right light.
However, if this person is anything like me, they have shots from once in a lifetime trips and want to know how to make them worthy of the photo book.
If you are interested, I can link to a before and after example from last year at Red Rock when I was there with my wife and kids during Photoshop World, but, due to circumstances beyond my control (i.e., kids) the timing was wrong. The photos won’t win a Nat Geo award. But, given where they started, they’ve made everyone in the family happy as photos in the album we made.
(Ok, the formatting in my comment didn’t come through…. The first half are quotes from you and your email letter writer) The second half are my comments.
I think you nailed it though Brad – those “once in a lifetime” trip photos, and the fact that they’ve “made everyone in the family happy” means mission accomplished. The photo can sometimes be about documenting history and a time with family. And when that is the purpose and meaning behind them, I think any shot is successful as long as it’s a photo you or your family can look back on fondly.
But… when you’re going out there, trying to make art and a photo that is maybe worthy of the next level, you can’t tell me that quality of light isn’t important.
He may not be trying to go from good to great, but maybe from bad to good. If that’s the line of thinking, then getting out there in good light is even more important. Because that will instantly make your photo better. Put aside composition, choice of subject, location, gear… just good light instantly makes a photo go from bad to good/ok.
I know that good light will make the photo go from bad to good. And your emailer may or may not know that or agree with that. But, regardless, there is a demand for some type of training that shows him how to take his bad photo and make it good. Been if it won’t ever be great.
I’ve been reading through the responses and think this one is the best at identifying the problem. Your post, Matt, allows us enough to understand that the original author saw a video where you critiqued images and seems to imply you spent too much time saying “wrong light/wrong time of day” instead of giving the submissions any other advice on improvement. Like, Brad, I think what you should be reading is “the person who submitted the photos needs to know how to bring the mediocre photo to a better place” and not “bring it to a great place” at least by your standards. Photographers, established and budding, know that light is key and taking the shot at “ideal lighting times” is essential for great shots. If I read between the lines of what the author is stating it is as Brad suggested- help everyday folks get their version of a good photo to better – they already know it has problems including likely the lighting when it was shot. So maybe leave more detailed help on what they could try to improve it, and linking up to another similar image taken at a better time of day could help drive home the light point – same for composition and location/angle, too.
Let me addI am a big supporter of you in this industry and have taken the time and paid to go to some of your Kelby tours in the past. I invested in On1 because you went there and were so passionate about what On1 can do. This is a good post and stirs good conversation but it might have been better if you completely left out some of the “snarky” bits – like pointing out the writer may have some misspelled words and “whilst”. My guess was you wanted to infuse humor in your blog and that this letter clearly had some more to it that got under your skin. You are passionate about helping people and do share your ideas and tips readily. Don’t stoop to his level by including snipes in your posts at all – you’re better than that. A long time ago I held a summer job at a seafood restaurant. The manager taught us that the customer is always right (even when not) and to always try to take the high road and help/be polite. You never know what happened to this person to make them write this letter in the tone they did – just know it is about them and not you. So take that high road. Continue to help. Asking for advice here is great, just take out the one liner snipes next time and stick to respect even if the writer did not. I’m enjoying the responses here as much as your post.
Whilst (sorry, I couldn’t resist), you have a good point, I guess my point in everything was that I was giving this person a very simple way to make their photo better. In many of the photos I review, they composition is good, the subject is good, the technique is good etc… But the one missing element that automatically takes the photo to the next level is light. And when that’s what the missing element is, I have to say it. So when you’re talking about bringing the photo to a “better” place, that is indeed my suggestion. When they do everything else right, and one thing like that instantly makes the photo better, I think that’s important. And I’m ALWAYS very respectful to say to that same person before I ever say light would be an improvement, that I understand they may not have been able to get there at better light. Just to take the pressure off that they did something wrong. But I can tell you that the answer is more certainly not what this guy wrote in to me, which is basically fake a good sunrise in ON1. If I knew how to do that, I’d never have to get early again 🙂
PS: I believe whole heartedly in Customer service as well. However, this person is currently not our customer. And while I do believe in trying to please would-be customers as much as possible, I was also taught that you treat people with dignity. Had I shown you the rest of his email, I believe you’d agree it’s best he’s not our customer. While I would go out of my way to please as many people as possible, that doesn’t mean you get to treat me (or any of my co-workers) with disrespect. If you believe you can, I’d rather you take your business elsewhere.
too bad this person wrote to you when in a dark place :0 And, hey, I just received an email today from On1 that there will be a new release coming out. Perhaps the two magic presets are include: Early Morning Magic Lens and Late Afternoon Magic Lens. Maybe the programmers have found the Light.
Confessions of a lazy photographer. Matt, all joking a side I can’t blame anyone for a lack of good landscape photographs but myself. Several times I say to myself I really need to getup nice an early and head up to the Blue Ridge Parkway so that I can take some pictures (I live less than an hour a way.) But I guess what sets me apart is that I don’t blame anyone but me. (Ok maybe I blame the dogs but…) That is not to say that I haven’t gotten any special landscape photos at the correct time a day. It says that I got lucky, the happy accident. When I put myself out there I’ve gotten a good photograph sometimes at the golden hour and sometimes I’ve even managed to get a nice picture at mid day.
I think some instructors are so good at what they do that to many people in the Entitled Generation feel that they deserve to be that good without the work. I am willing to go out on a limb and say that they probably feel that they should be able to simply push a button on the camera and get a great picture of half dome even though they happen to be at the Ding Darling National Nature Preserve on Sanibel Island in Lee County Florida.
By the way I would love to see what you could or have done there.
Take care and be safe
I think in the past two decades, the software has gotten so good that some people think everything can be fixed in post. Many of these people don’t realize that the word photography comes from the ancient Greeks meaning “drawing with light”. To me, light is the most important thing in creating a stellar photo. That is not to say other things do not contribute (e.g. composition). So if “drawing with light” is the most important thing, wouldn’t most people want to draw with the best light possible? As much as I hate getting up before dawn to shoot the sunrise, I know that to get the best result, I need to. I am not saying that you can’t get a great shot at other times, but the likelihood is so much better during the golden hours. As I remember, National Geographic won’t even accept a photo unless it was shot in the Golden Hours. Keep doing what you do Matt and ignore the trolls. Your track record is that you get way more understanding people than trolls.
I think every photographer remembers the time when they figured out that great photography is about light. And that’s not something you can explain in an article or video.. you really have to experience it and it takes a lot of work to get there.
That said.. there are some really great photos where the light isn’t perfect. Like you mentioned in your blog… there are times where you can’t help but shoot in non ideal conditions. And I think that having tutorials on what a growing landscape photographer can do in those situations (both on site and post) would be helpful.
But this guy’s statement of adding light in post (and other crazy ramblings) is just silly and there’s no sense in addressing something that just makes mediocre photography. I think that’s where your problem comes up.. this guy addresses a good question but doesn’t have the skills to know why its a good question 🙂
As a professional, all you can do is teach those that want to be taught. Educate and keep fighting the good fight. We live in a time where everyone wants things easier and faster and justifies it on the internet because they don’t know how to put in hard work to be famous faster.
I’m more of the filmmaker side of things but I love landscape photography and I’ve been a fan of yours for years. I don’t do it near enough to pay for your courses (eeek.. sorry!!! I know that needs to change), but you have always been a source of great technical information and creative inspiration. Just keep up the great work. They will figure it out one day.
Thanks for the thoughts Ryan. I do know that some people want the easy way out, but some people are also just trying to get better and I want to help. As for not having enough cash to join in on anything. If you can spare $5 / month, ON1 Plus is a pretty good deal and you’ll find me on there every day 🙂 https://www.on1.com/plus/
Hello, Matt. I’m just an enthusiast, far from being professional or a teacher. You’re one of the few websites that I follow and read carefully and really try to learn something.
I think that your text itself answers a lot. I did not went through all the comments but I like the idea of showing the same location within different times a good shot.
From my personal experience (remember I’m only an enthusiast), I like to travel a lot and I cannot tell how many times I prayed to the “weather god” to give me a good weather, nice cloud formations, etc..
I think the hard part is: there comes a time when you have to decide whether you want to be a tourist or a photographer, since yes, being both is quite difficult for the reasons you already wrote about (timed tours, etc.). It’s frustrating and I think that understanding and accepting this is pretty tough for many people.
Quoting The Rolling Stones: “You can’t always get what you want”.
So far Mario you win the quote of the day “there comes a time when you have to decide whether you want to be a tourist or a photographer”. Brilliant! 🙂
You hit the nail on the head. Most of my travel has been with non-photographers (primarily my wife). So the the focus of our efforts tends to be to see as much as possible through tours and keeping on the move. Most of our travels in Europe have been on cruises, which force the tours to daylight hours. The bottom line is that being in the many photogenic spots at optimal times tends to be driven by chance. So I capture what I can when I can. I’ve chosen to be a tourist most of the time, though the stars align during most trips to allow some satisfying shots. Getting non-phographers to schedule activities around “great light” is an ongoing challenge. It certainly illustrates the value of participating in photographer led tours.
I’m not sure how anyone could question how or what you teach. Your work is AWESOME! I wish mine was half as good. I’ve learned so much from you over the years. I don’t want you to get a big head but you do an outstanding job. Keep up the GREAT work. Thanks!
Thanks! (leaves office and head hits door because it has grown so large!) 😉
Light is obviously the fundamental factor in any photo. That being said, I have never understood the expression “good light”. As though absolutely ANY scene a photographer is facing is going to be rendered “good” or “bad” depending on the type of light shining on it. This simply cannot be true.
As an example: I am lucky enough to have a beautiful public garden in my community. In season, I take pictures there every week. I have on many occasions gone there early in the morning or in the afternoon/evening to shoot. Without fail I end up with fewer “keepers” from one of these shoots than from shoots done in the main part of the day. Typically the angle of the sun in the so-called good light periods restricts the range of what I am able to do.
This is not to say that absolutely glorious photography hasn’t resulted from the good light period. Of course it has. But I’ve been under the impression lately that we’re being told never to take pictures at any other time of day! And why should we be wanting to look at the same kind of light all the time?
I would put it to you that the push-back you’re noticing on this issue is precisely the result of this on-going insistence on shooting primarily in the “good light period”.
Hey Chris – well, I hope that I’ve never led anyone to think not to take photos at any other time of day. I’ve really never said “just put your camera away, and don’t bother”. But I do want to set expectations. Judging from your comments you’re exactly the person I need to continue this convo with. I can tell you by what you said about “why should we be wanting to look at the same kind of light all the time?”. I’d say back “Because it’s the good light!”.
Give this some thought… there’s a rooftop bar on the beach about 30 minutes from my house in Tampa, that my wife and I have been to. If you go to the rooftop at 3pm on a weekend, it’ll be packed, but you’ll find nobody really sitting by the edge of the roof near the water looking out. Sure, people sit there, but they’re not really paying attention to the scenery around them. However, go to that same bar at sunset. You’ll find roughly the same amount of people there, yet everyone is crowded toward the side of the building facing the water/sunset. Why is that? The insistence on shooting in the good light is the very same reason you find everyone flocking to the scenery at the beach at sunset… because it’s gorgeous and it’s when nature really puts on a light show for us. To take that same photo, not in good light, may produce a good photo. But do you want a good photo. Or do you feel you’ve invested enough in your photography/post-processing/training that you want a great photo? The answer is not to ask some one how to show you how to take great photos in bad light. I think you’re asking what makes a great photo, and people are telling you great light, but maybe that’s not what you want to hear.
Finally, as for your example about the garden, it could totally be the case. Some things rely on a bit more light than we get right at sunrise or sunset. If you’re in a garden and you’re looking for that magical golden light on something, you’ve got only a few minutes to capture it. But there’s lots of things in a garden that could be photographed in harsher light. Backlit flowers, trees, etc… That said, telling a photographer who loves grand landscapes, that they should go shoot in a garden instead, may not be the answer. I love beaches. Beaches need sunrise/sunset light (in my opinion that is). If I show up, and the light is blah, I’m going to be disappointed because that’s what I want to shoot. Telling me there’s a garden around the corner, where I can make better use of the light isn’t necessarily going to ease that sting for me.
Anyway, not trying to be argumentative here. Just trying to continue the conversation because it sounds like you’re the exact person I should be talking to to help figure this out. Thanks for the thoughts! 🙂
“Because it’s the good light!” No, it’s the right light for that situation. Your rooftop bar scenario is a case in point. I have never been to Florida, but I can just imagine what that scene must look like at 3 in the afternoon. I will agree with you completely — not worth pressing the shutter. But you still seem to insist that good light equals morning / evening light, and I simply cannot agree with you. Good light will be the light that shows a particular subject in a compelling way.
Great point Chris. I definitely agree with you on that one. There’s 12 noon light that works great for the slot canyons in Page Arizona for example. Or even the canyon I waded through at Oneonta Gorge and I’d never have gotten as good a shot early in the morning. So yes, very true. I guess I was thinking that the subjects I’m thinking of are shown in a compelling way at sunrise or sunset. But there’s definitely other subjects out there that aren’t. Thx!
Matt, I actually wish more people would avoid the good light. This would allow me to have some personal space when I shoot at the pre-dawn and sunset! 🙂
To me, it’s all about the light. I always make sure to build in time to shoot during the best conditions. If it means I don’t take a tour, so be it. If I have to shoot in less optimal lighting situations, I usually think about converting the shot to black & white.
There is nothing better than being out at a fantastic location with sun just coming up. If you are not willing to make this “sacrifice” then don’t whine whilst (I couldn’t resist) the your images are being critiqued.
I sympathize – I’ve noticed some of the same types of comments, pushing back against better, etc., and just shake my head.
The comments above are right on the money – I especially like the “work on what you can control” notion. That’s significant.
When traveling, I’ve been in great places with mid-day light, and wished I could come back at another time. But it wasn’t feasible, so I made do. I have some nice shots taken out of the harsh sun, or without a lot of bare, blue sky (depending on what was in front of the lens), and some detail shots, etc. In other words, I worked with things where the light worked for the shot, or I created a composition where the light would be good. Did I have a lot of “meh” photos? Of course! But I also had some that were worth showing or sharing. That’s where the creative part comes in.
I think that people who say essentially “even a chimp could take a great shot if they were out in good light” and “why don’t you make software that fixes bad light” don’t really understand photography. Part of why you’re hearing it is because you’ve got people who see Shot on iPhone ads and assume that those pictures were taken by some random person. They’re a random person, so they make great shots too. Some of it is pride – it hurts to hear that your shots suck and it feels great to hear that you’ve got a great picture. Some of it is laziness – you don’t want to hear that you have to sacrifice time and money to make a great shot.
I’ve been there. I have had some great chances to go places, but haven’t had an opportunity to get out and get the shot because of various constraints.
Nevertheless, is is absolutely critical if you’re going to grow as a photographer to work on what you can control. And what is the easiest thing to control? If you’re shooting at the right time. You can’t control where you’re at, and you may not have an eye for composition yet, but you can start there. That’s why it’s such great criticism, because it’s so easy to do! Then, once you master the art of being someplace at the right time, start figuring out what it is that makes a great shot. Work on emphasis and composition and exposure and color and contrast.
Software has come a long way and does some truly amazing things, but it’ll never be able to take 3 dimensional objects under one lighting condition, move the sun, then put the photo back so that it looks like you weren’t unlucky or lazy. The computations that would be necessary are absolutely mind-blowing. To think that it could do that takes everything out of photography. Why can’t the software realize that I accidentally cut off part of the Church of the Spilled Blood, notice that, add it in, then change the angle and get rid of the people? At some point, software can’t do everything, otherwise, what’s the point of a photographer?
Beau – you really hit on something important. “Work on what you can control”. It’s important in so many ways, and you’ve just helped me frame a part of how I’ll teach this. It’s important because:
1) Time of day is something you can control many times. It’s an instant “make your photo look better” formula. Get there at a better time of day… if you can (which leads to point 2).
2) Sometimes, when traveling with your family or friends, you simply cannot control the time of day you get there. Maybe the location you want isn’t even open at those times or just not safe to get to. At that point, understand what’s “beyond your control” and cope with it. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s about control – sometimes you have it. Sometimes you don’t. Knowing that, I think, can help a lot of people. Thanks!
I follow your website (and plan to join shortly), but my thoughts are a lot of people can only, or mostly only, get outdoors during the day, whether due to busy time constraints (jobs) or due to travel schedules, etc. And because people may only be able to get out in the daytime I don’t think they like to be told they cannot take great photos then.
I am an amateur photographer who likes to hike and travel and winds up taking many photos during the daytime. I think I can get some pretty good shots off during the day though I do hope for cloudy days and will wait for cloud cover if I can. I certainly agree light is very important and takes it to the next level.
I have been told I have a good eye for photography and I believe knowing how to compose a shot is right up there with good light and maybe that can hope make up for daytime photography.
Thank you for the advise you gave to me before my Norway trip in 2014.
The right equipment at the right place and time with right skill set will help you get great photos. Light is just a part of that “right place/time”. No one would argue that you won’t get as good photos with a 15 year old digital point and shoot as you would with a modern camera. The equipment is the easy part. Even the fundamental skill set is pretty manageable for most photographers. The tough part is being in the right place at the right time.
I think it’s just a reflection of what our society has become. It’s more about trying to get there quickly or easily. And you can’t control light that way, so people push back on that element.
Don’t stop teaching people that it is important. Maybe you can show some more examples of being at the same location in different light and how much of a difference it makes?
Great point David. I think maybe showing some examples, and letting people decide on their own may help. Some people may like the way it looks mid-day, and that way, they can figure it out on their own after looking at some examples.
I think Dave and Beau nailed the two elements of what’s frustrating the person pushing back.
It’s all about what you can control. Even if you have the best equipment, have complete control over your schedule, have traveled to a majestic location, plan for the normal weather, etc., it can all come down to plain dumb luck.
In 2015, I put a lot of effort into planning out my photography during a late-summer family vacation. I had complete control of my schedule so getting up early or staying our late for sunrise and sunset shots was not the issue. We drove to the location, so I had all my equipment with me. I spent time on Flickr and 500px etc. scoping out locations. I had a week to get my “best” images. But the first few days the weather was all glum all day. Of the seven days that we were there, I had maybe three days of “good light.”
And on the last day as we drove out of town, we had the most spectacular sunset of the week.