Due to circumstances that are generally out of our control, not all landscape photography trips are a success, but with a bit of planning you can increase the likelihood of having a productive outdoor photo shoot. The soft morning or late afternoon light that all landscape photographers are after is generally a short-lived event and being as prepared as possible will enable you to capture it when the moment is right.
1. Virtual Scouting
A great way to determine if a location is photogenic is to hop over to 500px and run a search for your location. This will also show you how others are capturing your planned location and will provide compositional ideas that you might want to apply or avoid when you’re on location.
It’s good to not only become familiar with your specific subject you’ll be photographing but also the surrounding area. For this, Google Earth is your best friend – this is one of the coolest applications Google has ever created in my opinion.
This is what we’re all after! Good light can make or break a photo and understanding where and when you can expect the light to arrive is super powerful information to understand. There are many apps you can use to determine this, but the app I like to use is LightTrac. It’s very straightforward and has a user-friendly interface that will show you everything you need to know in order to be in the right place at the right time.
This works in conjunction with the light — if the clouds are thick, any available light will be snuffed out. The clouds that produce those burning sunrises or sunsets we all love are high clouds. I use an app called Clear Outside to determine the predicted cloud cover for a specific location on a certain day and time.
There’s nothing worse than running around on location like a lunatic trying to find a good composition when the sky is exploding with color, but with a bit of advanced planning you can reduce the chances that this will happen to you on your next photography adventure.
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About the author: Mark Denney is a landscape photographer based in North Carolina. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.