Improve your landscape photography compositions - shoot when the light is ‘bad’

June 17, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Improve Your Landscape Photography Compositions - Shoot When The Light Is ‘Bad’

OK. You may have to bear with me on this one because it sounds wrong.

A great landscape image requires two things.  Great light and a great composition. 

Great light depends on a lot on the subject and the type of scene. It also depends on what the mood and effect is that you’re trying to get.

Great light is often when the sun is low, the light is warm and diffuse but still directional, and when it illuminates specific parts of the scene and not others.

An image shot in great light will normally look pretty good, even if the subject is boring and the composition is not that great.

“Pretty good”. That’s the key point. Even in great light an image won’t be great unless the composition is equally good. 

When we get great light it’s sometimes difficult to see any shortcomings in the compositions we choose. I mean, the image looks great on that little screen on the back of the camera right?

It’s only later, looking at the image on the computer, that we see how much better it could have been if only we had…. 

  • moved to one side a bit
  • lowered the point of view a bit
  • cropped in a little tighter
  • changed the angle of the camera
  • moved back a bit fit something extra in
  • moved forward a bit to exclude something

and the list could go on….

The other thing about great light is… it’s out of our control. We can try to predict it, to anticipate, but we can’t make it happen. It also tends to be during very short windows at the beginning and end of the day.

Now consider an image shot in ‘bad’ light. Let’s say the middle of the day with clear skies. The sun is directly overhead, shadows are deep and the scene doesn’t have any texture because the overhead sun doesn’t pick out any contours.

It’s still possible to create a nice image in these conditions, but the importance then becomes on getting a really good composition.


Go out when the light is bad and concentrate on getting images that look as good as you can possibly make them. Really consider how the composition strengthens, or weakens, the image. 

Take lots of shots and then review them later on the computer and consider what works, and what doesn’t.

You probably won’t get any ‘great’ images shooting when the light is bad but, with practice, you will got more and more ‘good’ images, even in bad light.

Then, when you go out to shoot in good light, you’re more likely to consider your composition more carefully and, if the light is ‘really good’ or even ‘GREAT’, you stand a much better chance of nailing that ‘GREAT’ image that the light makes possible,

I hope you enjoy this tip

I'll be back at the start of July with my 'Life and Landscape Photography' post and a look back at June

I hope you'll join me then


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