Picking the Right Time of Day

I think every photographer knows that taking pictures with the sun low on the horizon is better than when its right above. Recently I had the opportunity to capture a scene at Mid-Morning and at Sunset and the difference is striking!

Here’s Soberanes Point at Garrapatta State Beach mid morning captured with an iPhone image of the scene. We were on the way back from Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and it was a quick stop to check the beach out. It would have been easy to just take photos here at mid-morning and never come back.

Mid Morning- iPhone 5s capture

Mid Morning- iPhone 5s capture

You can tell by the image that this is a beautiful spot. The two rocks in the surf, the boulders on the beach and the amazing coastline to the north. The only problem is the flat light. The sun is already to harsh.

Earlier in my photography learning curve I would try to make the best of the light and try to make a compelling image in any light. I have learned that unless you are in a studio or have access to a huge lighting/light blocking set up dealing with a high sun leads to flat and rather un-interesting pictures.

Here’s an image from the same spot(from our earlier stop we knew we wanted to work here during a sunset!), with the same iPhone 5s about 30 minutes before sunset.

Captured with an iPhone 5S

Captured with an iPhone 5S

The golden hues really help to set off the two rocks in the surf. The image has more depth and straight out of my phone with no editing. I think I could improve it with a brief trip through Lightroom.

Getting the right light does take effort to drop everything to get to the spot before the light disappears and luck that the clouds and sky will cooperate.

When I’m traveling with family etc. its really difficult to drop everything and run to the sunset spot and if I try for a sunrise I’m usually spent for the rest of the day! Therefore when I travel with my family I try to make the best of the current light scenarios which leads to many photos in mid-day light.

Thankfully my family is more than happy to stay home and let me head out on occasion with a group of hard corp photographers and hunt the best light. Wake up well before dawn, and take off at 2pm to get into place as the sun starts to dip behind horizon.

I made this image about 40 minutes after the previous iPhone capture with my Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod

Yes the technique to capture this image would have been much harder with an iPhone, I probably could have gotten close had I used a tripod for my iPhone, but I couldn’t have made this image with mid morning sun.

Shooting landscapes is hard work… much harder than I ever imagined. Picking the right time of day requires planning and effort to get to the spot at the right time. It is rewarding when the effort pays off!

I guess that’s true for any endeavor in life.

You can view more images from my Big Sur trip at: http://www.sandquistphotography.com/Collections/BigSur/