The Ever-Present Conundrum
Ah, the eternal question in the world of ‘travel photography’: do we meticulously plan our trip around capturing those perfect shots (timing the golden hours, extending our stay until we’re content with our photographs, and so on)? OR should we immerse ourselves in the joy of travel, seizing available moments to squeeze out good shots?
As an avid traveler and photographer, I’m convinced that everyone, regardless of their technical and artistic photography level, should immortalize their travel moments. Trust me on this. I’ve crisscrossed thousands of miles from East to West on this planet, and the journeys I distinctly remember are those with a camera strap snuggly fitted around my neck.
The following sections are aimed at you, the intermediate-level photographers. You’re not snapping shots for commercial purposes or living the full-time traveler’s life. Let’s face reality. Most of us are time-bound when it comes to our trips. We pour a significant chunk of our hard-earned money into these journeys, and more often than not, we have companions alongside. Thus, putting down our cameras in the middle of the day to rest for sunsets and sunrises might not be the smartest move. By doing so, we risk missing countless valuable moments of our trip, simply because the light seems flat in mid-day.
Coping with Middays and Harsh Lights
Middays and harsh lights can often prompt you to give up on photography. But remember, LIGHT is the key to 90% of compelling photographs. As promised, I have a few workarounds to share.
Firstly, the hard light of midday sun, unfiltered and unadulterated, casts Shadows. Why not use these shadows as elements of composition? (I’ll delve deeper into this topic in another post).
Secondly, consider thinking in BLACK & WHITE. When you’ve lined up an excellent composition, and there’s ample contrast or perhaps a fascinating story behind, you can convert your mid-day images into black and white. Let me illustrate with an example:
This image was captured near Akureyri, Iceland, smack dab in the middle of the day. However, thanks to Iceland’s geographic position, the sun was beaming from the side and above. The composition was on point, a tender love story between these wild ponies was unfolding before my eyes – so why should I let a mid-day sun deter me?
However, as any seasoned photographer would, I spotted a few distractions in my frame. Two ponies in the left background and a few patches of snow that drew the eye away from the main subjects.
Turning to my trusted tools, Photoshop’s stamp tool and brush healing tool, I set about removing these distractions. After tidying up the image, I used the Nik collection in Photoshop to convert the image into black and white, and added a dash of vignetting to guide the eye towards the frame’s center.
The final result was a dramatic black and white image, devoid of distractions and rich in emotion.
- How can I make the best use of mid-day light for travel photography?
You can use mid-day shadows as elements of composition or convert your images into black and white, especially if there’s ample contrast or a captivating story behind the shot.
Navigating the delicate balance between traveling for photography and photographing while traveling can be challenging. However, with a bit of creativity, planning, and flexibility, you can capture extraordinary images in the most ordinary circumstances. Remember, every moment of your journey is worth capturing, regardless of the time of day or lighting conditions.