Dealing with Harsh Light

The top advise you would get from the pros is to shoot a landscape during the Golden Hours. This makes a lot of sense because during that time you get soft light, deep colors at the horizon, and on a cloudy day you get more dramatic results. One may not always be in a good location during the sunset or the sunrise, and that time the light can really be very harsh, thus resulting in not so exciting images.

Having said that you can still tame the light to a good extent, and make some good images. A few things I do to get the image I want during the day light are:-

a. Use a ND Filter (I use . 6 and have 2 of them, you get .10 as well)
b. I aim to shoot B&W if possible.
c. HDR – this s a very good technique and there are plenty of tools in the market like Photomatix, Oloneo,  etc. I prefer to use HDR efex pro. I like it mainly because it has plenty of presets and I personally don’t like over the top surreal looking images and this tool helps me keep my image as real as possible. Also check out Jay Patel’s iHDR technique.
d. Shoot subjects if they are under shadow of a bigger object.
e. Always shoot with very low exposure, its easy to retrieve image in post processing specially if you shoot in RAW.

Here are a few examples :-


YosemiteThe Above two shots are from Yosemite NP. It was shot around 1 or 2 pm in the afternoon. I used the HDR software to create these final images.

Savage River,DenaliThis shot is of Savage River trail entrance in Denali NP, Alaska. Shot it around 3-4pm, I envisioned a B&W for this one.

StoneHengeStone Henge, again shot around 3pm. I kept very low exposure, and in Lightroom I recovered the details.

Horse Tail FallsYosemite again, if you have been here you know the waterfall. There was a large overcast on the fall from the side walls, I zoomed in using my Telephoto making sure not to get any part with sunlight falling on it.

Sandy Hook Beach, NJThis I made in Sandy Hook Beach, NJ. I used a ND filter which allowed my to keep a slightly longer shutter speed.

Kaaterskill Fall

The image above is of Katerskill Falls in NY. I waited for the Clouds to cover the Sun, giving me a few seconds to take this shot while there was a small overcast.


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