Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Light is the most important element of any photograph. You are capturing photons of light after all. I can’t even begin to express to you how important it is to embrace light in photography and understand it!
I remember when I first started out in photography. I’d always look at other photographers work and think how on earth have they got that to look so good. I’d go to the same locations they had been to. Then constantly scratch my head when my images were no where near this level. It got more and more frustrating for me as time went on. I just figured that all I needed was to work harder on it. Which did actually eventually lead to me figuring this out. One afternoon in the Peak District I stayed a lot later than normal. The sun started to set. I was looking at the back of my camera in disbelief.
It came to me then. The main thing that I was doing wrong was simply going out at the wrong times. After the sunset I bolted home and immediately started looking up sunset and sunrise times. Where will it be? When will it be at its best? All of these factors started popping up in my head making this whole photography journey I had started way more technical and tricky than I had first expected.
I don’t think you ever stop learning as a photographer though. Thats one of the great things about it. You will never get bored and you can never master photography 100%. Once you figure this out you will never stop chasing sunsets or sunrises. Hunting for that magic light to clip a mountain or burst into some inverted clouds.
You can see a massive difference between the two mountain shots. I remember taking the first one when we found this awesome location figuring out a composition before the sun had set. We went down the road taking some more shots. Then I saw that red light on the mountain out of nowhere. The penny dropped I practically sprinted dragging my mate to use as a model :D to get the second shot. Light can change dramatically in seconds and you have to grab it as soon as you can!
In regards to sunrises like believe me I know it sucks getting up that early. You’re talking to the guy that would get up at 4am before work. Get ready as well as possible; in a completely dazed state. Boil a flask of coffee then set off in his car to get to the spot. That first part, for sure is not fun. When you get to an awesome spot for sunrise though. Its totally worth it. Even if you don’t have a camera with you! Just being in that location usually by yourself and watching the sun slowly rise up is honestly something else.
That image above was taken at a place called Winnats Pass. I drove there before work- at the time I was working in studio. People thought I was crazy getting up at that time and driving all that way. But you don’t get views like that unless you get up at those times. For me totally worth it. Who needs sleep anyway!