When Is The Best Time To Shoot Landscape?

11 07 2011

So last week I was in Nevada and I went to check out Death Valley.  I scouted out Zabriske Point at Death Valley and planned the pano you see above.  It’s a pretty obvious shot of the location.  However as I was checking it out under the mid-day sun, I was asking myself when should I shoot it.   I think the conventional answer to that is to shoot it when the sun is low in the sky so that you get strong shadows and depth.  So that is what I did,  however I remembered back to a shot that Peter Eastway made in Death Valley, and the one thing thing that stuck in my mind was that Peter said he made the capture way after the sun went down when it was almost dark.

So I thought I would give it a try as well as making my capture in direct light.  For me, it was no contest, the light from the post-sunset capture was much more subtle, but still provided plenty of highlights and shadows.  I realised that the sky above the setting sun was acting like a big soft-box and throwing a much softer (but still directional) light onto the scene.

Not sure it will work in all situations, but it was definitely an interesting experiment for me.

Shot 40min after sunset

Shot just before the sun set