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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Nature & Landscapes Talk 
Thread started 15 Jul 2014 (Tuesday) 18:53
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How often do you visit a location to find the right light?

Masa ­ Yume
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Jul 15, 2014 18:53 |  #1

I live about 40 miles away from the coastline. Sunrise is at 6:00 am, so I get up at 4:30, check a webcam in a nearby town to make sure it's not foggy, then I drive to the location I want to shoot, and wonder if this will be the day I'll see a brilliant orange sky during the Golden Hour.

But more often than not, the Golden Hour isn't gold at all. The sky brightens, the clouds burn away, and it's daylight. I end up getting a very similar photo time after time.

If it wasn't near my house, I wouldn't try so often. But I know that one of these days I'll sleep in and miss a spectacular golden sky, and I'll really be upset.

I'm not normally a landscape shooter - how often will you keep going back? And is there a method to get a better idea when you will get a truly spectacular golden hour?

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Jul 16, 2014 08:08 |  #2

Yes, there is a method to get a better idea of when you might see great light. If you're on a coastline that faces east (I'm assuming that you are because you're favoring sunrise), and are in the northern hemisphere where weather tends to move from west to east, then try to time your outing for a morning just as a storm front is approaching from the west. That is when you are most likely to get a dramatic shelf of clouds, with light shining in beneath them from the east (that is, if the timing is right and the storm hasn't yet moved far enough east to obscure the rising sun). Look at satellite images to see what's going on with the clouds of an oncoming storm and plan accordingly.

As for how often to go back and try again: as often as it takes! Every landscape shooter has their white whale of a location, the one that always seems to defy them. If you keep at it with proper planning, you'll get it eventually, and then you can find some new location to be your white whale. :)

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Masa ­ Yume
36 posts
Likes: 8
Joined Jun 2012
Jul 17, 2014 06:16 |  #3

Thank you very much for your advice, it's very helpful. I actually am on the west coast, but this particular location looks east. On top of that, it's easier to get there in the morning without traffic than it is in the evening with rush hour. I will apply what you said.

And it's very inspirational to me to know that it is a process of chasing the perfect time. It's reassuring to know that pursuing the right light is a process that many of you go through as well.

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Jul 17, 2014 22:27 as a reply to  @ Masa Yume's post |  #4

Oh yea, although I won't always choose the same composition at those locations - it will depend on the sky. But yes, plenty of multiple trips to the same locations and nothing to show for it.

Even far away, for instance I visit Yellowstone about every 2 years, I go back to some of the same locations looking for good light, or just better or different light.

I do choose locations from 3 sources:

1. new ones I might have scoped out
2. old ones I never quite got a good shot at, but have a lot of potential
3. old ones I have a 'good' (printable) shot, but there could always be something better or different.

Where I go depends on what I think the light is likely to do, or just feel like trying.

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Jul 18, 2014 09:50 |  #5

I myself have chosen locations for the "look", and go back at good times to seek to capture the scene, hoping that the light will be good for a shot!

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Jul 22, 2014 05:55 |  #6

I want to visit Iceland again but this time in a camper for 3 weeks. This will allow me opportunities to park somewhere and wait for sunset / sunrise. If the weather doesnt cooperate I can devote multiple days / nights to get the shot I am after. Part of the reason I chose this route is because of bad weather over 4 days / night in Jokulsarlon didnt produce any good sunrise / sunsets & NL.

Last winter while in snowless Yosemite we tried to get mistbow from Yosemite Falls from a good angle. First day we climbed from one side and then from another and couldnt get it. Second day was a bust too. Third day we were able to get it from good angle and at the peak. The point is we had to put effort to get the results we wanted.

No pain no gain...

I want to guest blog on your Landscape / Travel photography blog, PM for details

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How often do you visit a location to find the right light?
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