I have spent some of my happiest moments as a photographer alone with my camera standing on top of a hill loving the beautiful natural light of early morning and what it does to the earth and sky.
It’s one thing to be driving down the highway with your family and pulling over to shoot a vista you might stumble onto and quite another to get yourself out of bed with the intention of treating yourself to a photographic meditation on land and light.
So here are seven tips to help and inspire you to go create something beautiful before a well deserved breakfast.
- GET OUT OF BED
The alarm is going to need to go off before the sun rises and you need to have an idea of where you are going. One of the main benefits you will find of early morning photography—as opposed to late evening photography—is that there’s often some interesting, glorious fog and humidity that catches the light and makes for classic imagery. You need to get out of bed. If your coffee machine has a timer on it the whole process is going to be easier and more enjoyable.
2. GET YOURSELF TO A HILLTOP
Humid summer days and nights often produce fog in the valleys. Of course, you have no control over all of the numerous factors that create fog—temperature and dew point and all of that—but if you can get yourself to a high vista this glorious phenomena is more common than you may think. But you do need to be there when it’s happening and for that to happen you need to move early.
3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WET PAVEMENT
A little bit of rain and some sunlight breaking through early morning clouds can often make pavement glow like a Hollywood lighting effect. A long telephoto lens—like I used here—can accentuate this effect. Water can make things look like they are made of silver—a beautiful effect in black and white.
4. LANDSCAPES DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SHARP
Getting in close on a small—and probably backlit—detail can provide you with the best of both worlds. If you’re focused on something close to your camera and you use a large aperture you can create a soft, moody landscape. Every landscape doesn’t have to be a crisp, sharp overall shot of a mountain range.
5. ASK YOURSELF: HOW MUCH EARTH? HOW MUCH SKY?
Never say never, but never put your horizon line smack dab in the middle of the frame. Obviously, there are always exceptions, but most of the time it’s a good idea to show more sky and less ground or the other way around—let one of them be dominant. Make your composition look intentional and dramatic. If you put the horizon line right in the middle it simply looks like you couldn’t make up your mind.
6. PLAY WITH CURVED LINES
If you’re fortunate enough to be shooting near some hills, playing with the curved lines and the way they intersect each other can produce images your viewers will be telling you to frame.
7. DON’T RULE OUT PEOPLE
Incorporating the people you love in a landscape can tell stories in bold graphic ways. This picture works because the photographer got out of bed at 6AM and stood back and shot a wide view instead of a close up shot of the boys out fishing.
Are you inspired to photograph your countryside? Are you motivated to become the photographer you’ve always dreamt of being? Would you like to join me in person for an early morning photography expedition? Or for a whole weekend?!
JOIN ME FOR MY COUNTRY WEEKEND PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP and let’s create beautiful photos together!
I look forward to seeing you in person…
Stay in focus!