Landscape in daylight

September 08, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I've read both in books and on-line that the best time to do landscape photos is during the gold or blue hours of the day (early morning or late afternoon/evening). In fact in one book I ready the author seemed to imply that landscape photography in broad daylight was a waste of time and a better time to catch up on sleep or get editing or other stuff to be taken care of -- and I quote "Midday brings welcome relief to landscape photographers suffering from 4am alarm clock shock. During the summer months, the light is typically poor for two or three hours either side of midday. Use this time to download and review images, scout locations, travel or eat something other than energy bars – do just about anything other than make photos. Personally I tend to sneak in a power nap."

I get the premise that those hours certainly are ideal but I wouldn't agree with those being the only hours of the day worth taking photographs of landscape or other outdoor scenes. And I certainly wouldn't agree that mid-day hours should not be used for photography (landscape or otherwise) and instead other activities. Again, I understand the premise; however, I'm a firm believer in using light whenever I have it. Mid-day can offer an opportunity to capture great shadows (or even minimal to no shadows) and stark contrasts, particularly for black-and-white. It's also an opportune time to take advantage of shooting in areas of deep shade such as a waterfall I recently shot. I still crave to capture images that have that soft, glowing, low angle sunlight but if I'm out on a shoot I'm going to maximize my time.

Over the Labor Day weekend I had a chance to go check out Hanging Rock State Park; which is now on my short list of parks to go back and re-visit during cooler (and wetter) weather. 

In wetter weather this cascade would clearly be larger and more photogenic. The scene was still inviting and I was pleasantly surprised by the large spiderweb in the lower center-right of the photo which I didn't notice until I started my editing. I was actually surprised I hadn't walked through it -- I think that's the only web I didn't have stuck to me when I finally settled on my spot to set up. Interestingly this particular falls barely even gets a mention in guidebooks and on-line maps. Upstream (about 40 yards or so) this creeks spills over a vertical drop into a very shallow pool and then continues down several cascades hidden under heavy brush. It opens up at this spot before continuing down even more rugged terrain covered in Rhododendron and other thick foliage.

The area was in deep shade with pockets of sunlight streaming in here and there. In lower angle and softer light this would likely have been a much more difficult shot and probably not quite as colorful and well lit. Admittedly, I'd love to give this scene a try when the sun is low though.

I plan a trip back to Hanging Rock later this year or in the early spring of 2016 when the weather is cool and I know the water will be flowing more. It's a beautiful park with plenty of great hiking and views and given its relative proximity to the triangle area it's worth multiple trips for more exploration.

Other falls in the area include Window Falls, Tory Falls, and the Upper and Lower Cascades. Window Falls looks like it would be much prettier in wetter weather and with less crowds. Getting a shot of it was not possible given the throng of people standing around. Tory Falls is also in the park but unless there's been a recent (and probably heavy rain) it's not a large flow but would have to be a magnificent sight if it ever had a large flow. Given the crowds around the other two smaller falls I didn't even bother with the lower and upper cascades and decided to save those for a time when I figured no sane person would be out there.

 


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