The Best Light for Landscape Photography

In Friday’s post last week, I shared a photo I had taken the week before, even though I had been photographing the day before. Now that I’ve had a little more time to process those images, I want to share one today.

Higger Tor from Carl Wark in the Peak Disitrct

Capturing the Image

I’m extremely pleased with this shot for several reasons (other than I like it):

  • I’ve been trying to shoot this scene with heather for some time and visited many times over the years. This time the composition just fell into place as soon as I set up the camera. I have no idea why; it just sometimes happens that way.
  • On this visit, I had low expectations as the sky was clear and the light harsh, all the way up to sunset.
  • The Panasonic G9 I was using has captured a lot of detail and the image quality is very good. I wasn’t expecting the RAW file to process quite as well as it has.

For those of you interested in the technicalities of this shot, I used a Leica 8-18 lens at 11mm. I had the camera mounted on a tripod for an exposure of 1/8” at f/8.0 and ISO200. I also used a 2 stop ND graduated filter on the sky.

But the real secret to this image was the time I shot it. It was well after sunset, and it looked to the eye like the colour was gone from the scene. A couple of other photographers who were in the same location had packed up and I was the only person left. Although I was questioning my decision, experience told me that the heather looks great well after sunset, especially with a clear sky. The best light I’ve found is often around 30 minutes after the sun dips below the horizon.

Processing the Image

When it came to processing the RAW file, I applied my default adjustments in DxO PhotoLab (I describe them in this video). I then exported the image as a DNG file to Lightroom. That’s where I applied selective adjustments to lighten patches of heather and to darken the sky which brought out the colour.

I’ve found that processing the Panasonic G9 files in DxO PhotoLab using DeepPRIME first creates a much more flexible file. It also has excellent image quality.

Whilst you can achieve similar image quality using DxO PureRAW, what I like about PhotoLab is the additional level of colour control. My current favourite approach is to set the colour profile to match that of a Nikon D3 which is extremely neutral. Then when I have the DNG file in Lightroom I select the colour profile that I think looks best.

This double processing of the RAW file colour may sound bizarre, but it seems to work well with most images.

This Week’s Video

Another post processing strategy that I’ve used with similar images (but not the one above) is to apply the coloured photo filter in applications like On1 Photo RAW. That’s also the subject of this week’s YouTube video where I use it to enhance one of my blue hour photos. In it I explain how I tend to use the filter and the changes I make to the filter mask.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

6 thoughts on “The Best Light for Landscape Photography

  1. During several month you complained about having little time for your photography. Now you seem to have more time available. I have had the same problem several times during my 45 years as a professional photographer. But one thing strikes me: After some time you will notice your photography has improved considerably. It will take some time, but as you will look back to the things you made one or two years before you will see your improvement.

    1. I agree, it doesn’t matter how long you have been doing something, if you are focused and consistent you can continue to improve. It is important that you are trying to improve though. When you find yourself just going through the motions, that’s the time to re-evaluate. And yes, I am finally coming out of a period of nearly 8 -months where I have been overcommitted in terms of both photography work and my personal life. It’s a relief.

  2. Robin I love the editing you have achieved on this photograph. The photo certainly looks as though it was taken in the evening, but it doesn’t seem to be so long after sunset. No wonder those two guys had left the scene. You are certainly someone else. Ian

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