Recently, I was thinking about heading out to a favourite location. Due to a late night and a comfortable bed, I slept in. I got up and the clouds were amazing. The problem was that it was also almost noon! If you have read anything about landscape photography the gurus will tell you that is a “big mistake!” but is it really?
At any rate, it got me thinking more about taking photos during those times where the photo gurus say that you should be at the cafe pimping your photos out to instagram. In some ways, they are right but on the days when there is a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds… grab your great and get out there!
I started shooting more midday shots because of my travel photography assignments. Sure, some landscapes look better in the warm light of a sunrise, but many briefs specifically requested images to be taken during the day. At first, this was strange but after seeing the results, I understood.
People want to see landscapes as that would normally see them. Most sane people are not up at the crack of dawn but rather during the day. However, this isn’t always the best time for photography especially for tourist spots.
When I was recently in Tokyo, I found the bulk of my shots were coming midday as I had several locations to shoot in a short amount of time. Sure, the morning shots at the temple were nice but they were not any better (in my opinion) than the midday shots that I got elsewhere.
I find that midday shots often reflect the seasons better for some reason. While sunrise/sunset photos have a timelessness to them, the bright blue skies through the golden leaves on a fall day really nail that autumn feeling. The same goes for midday beach shots as well.
I am not trying to say that a midday shot is better but rather I am trying to send the point home that you are not out of luck if all you can shoot are daytime photos. From puffy clouds to hazy rainy days, you just have to flex your creative brain a bit.
Speaking about summer, I have always found that midday shots represent the season a bit better than a sunrise shot. Perhaps, a sunset over a nice beach may have that “summer nights” looks that many are after but for the most part people go to the beach during the day. Photos that resonate with then can be shot during that same timeframe. Done right, this can conjure up some great memories in your viewer.
Black and White
I have been talking a lot about the ideal conditions. Life is not always blue skies and puffy clouds. Sometimes we have harsh light, cloudless skies and everything just seems blown out or boring.
This is where you can use the harsh contrasts to your advantage. Convert your image to black and white and focus on the detail and contrast. This allowed you to focus less on the colours and more on the subject as well.
This is a great time to look for some shadows too. The midday sun will create some harsher shadows and converting to black and white can emphasise the contrast.
Use a Filter
Using a CP or Circular Polarizer can help make those skies pop and cut some of the glase from the midday sun too. For me, this is what automatically goes on when the sun is high in the sky.
You can also try using an ND Filter or neutral density filter. This will allow you to blur clouds and streams. It can also blur the midday crowds of people that tend to appear in many tourist areas.
The bottom line here is that you do have a few options when it comes to midday shooting. Being a little creative can yield some great results. Try it out and let me know how it goes in the comments below.