Tips and hints for getting a good landscape

Exclusively for Times Online, three of the UK's leading landscape photographers give advice

David Ward

"Many see the subject as the most important element of a photograph, and the light falling on it as a secondary concern. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Learning how to match subject to lighting, and vice versa, is the most critical part of landscape photography. We all need to learn how to work the light."

Top five tips for working the light

1. Think about the colour of light – is it warm from early or late sun or cold shade light from a blue sky? Do you need to filter it or leave it as it is?

2. Think about the size of the light source – is it a point source (the sun for instance) producing strong directional light? Or is the whole sky the light source (cloudy, or a clear sky when the subject is in shade) giving soft almost directionless light?

3. Think about the height of the light source – how does it affect the shadows on the subject?

4. Think about the direction of the light – is it lighting the best side of your subject?

5. Think about how all these things together will affect the way your subject looks!

Charlie Waite

"Light must be studied though its behaviour can never be predicted with total precision. For example, the beautiful warm evening light that bathes the landscape in a mantle of amber is usually thought of as characteristically Mediterranean; but the same light can be found in northern Europe. Despite many claims to the contrary, every region in the world will have its share of ravishing light."

Top five tips for working the light

1. Without a camera, look at the way in which light interacts with different surfaces. Perhaps set up a simple table-top still life where it is possible to move the light source from one position to another.

2. Become obsessive about light and take every opportunity to observe its behaviour in conjunction with every conceivable surface.

3. Set aside a special time for your photography and make images of a landscape setting in different lighting situations. Study and analyse your results. Define as best you can why the lighting does not seem to have been successful.

4. Make repeated visits to a favoured location and work tenaciously to produce an image that matches your previsualized ideal.

5. Tolerate as few compromises as possible and, when they are unavoidable, be aware of what they were, why they were allowed and where they have sullied the image.

Joe Cornish

"While landscape provides the subject matter, it is light we record and interpret. Light defines space, reveals texture, sculpts form, controls colour, and above all ignites an emotional response. The sky is our studio, our theatre, and we must learn to act upon its gifts of light."

Top five tips for working the light

1. Buy a spot meter and learn to use it properly.

2. Realise that the cycle of the seasons has an enormous effect on the position of sunrise and sunset, and learn to anticipate the effect of the sun’s path through the course of the seasons.

3. Try and respond emotionally to light. But be scientific enough to do your response justice by getting the exposure right!

4. Use a tripod. Most light interesting enough for a landscape photo can’t be hand-held anyway, and most photographers compose their pictures better with a tripod than without.

5. Get out more. But take fewer pictures.

Marcus Doyle

1. If you see a scene that you have seen photographed before, don't blatantly copy it and get a mind of your own.

2. Although you may of heard many times before,' Its not the camera its the photographer', remember that its balls, otherwise Ansel Adams would of used a Lomo. However, just because you have a digital Hassalblad doesnt mean your any good..

3. Don't think just because you print it big it will make the image better. If its crap, its crap. Also don't think because its big you can sell it for lots of money. If you plan to sell work and show it on the web, that print better be better than that tiny scan.

4. Its impossible to replicate the grandeur of a landscape on film, or on a monitor. So don't think you can, your working in 2D.

5. Don't think you are the greatest photographer in the world, you are not, your not even close.

6. This competition is pointless and the prizes are naff..

7. I will never be able to be a course leader for Light and Land, well not now..

8. I added this section myself and it was not published in The Times.

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