Almost every outing that I make as a photographer is governed by what the light conditions currently are, or by what the forecast for the light will be. There are three main types of light that I concern myself with and this is warm light, cool light and flat light.
I associate warm light primarily with what we photographers call the golden hour. This is the period of time one hour immediately after sunrise and one hour immediately before sunset. I personally think this period bleeds over a little bit into pre sunrise and post sunset, so it’s not an exact science!
This is often termed as the blue hour, which sits snugly in the one hour slot pre sunrise and post sunset. But as indicated above, I often think that the golden hour steals a little bit from either end!
This is the light that photographers all across the UK can identify with most of all and it’s this light that seems to challenge them the most. Below is a workshop that I ran recently in flat light where both participants I’m sure were hoping for sunshine!
Location 1 – Blea Tarn
During my workshops, one of the first things we discuss and take into consideration is what type of light do we currently have. Once this is established, we choose our subject matter to best take advantage to whatever the answer is. Take this week for example, I had two clients, Martin and Colin who came along on my February South Lakes workshop. This workshop started at Blea Tarn as planned, then headed to the River Brathay and then after lunch Tarn Hows. The day is primarily a landscape photography day but as we arrived on location at Blea Tarn, the rain, which had started to pour the day before, still hadn’t stopped. With that in mind, the glorious dawn light which is the main draw of this workshop failed to show! So… following a few poorly lit compositions of the lake, we headed into the woods to best take advantage of what we had, which is a point I really drive home to anyone attending one of my days. Stick to the plan and we will likely go home with nothing and be disappointed…or…adapt and be successful. Immediately upon entering the woods, we started to find subjects that the light was complimentary to, and both Colin and Martin walked away with their first two images of the day.
Location 2 – River Brathay
The rain had stopped for a time when we arrived at the small car park between Grassmere and Rydal Water, so we disembarked the car and headed for the woods. This is where the flat light really paid dividends and within minutes, we were finding beautiful trees cloaked in mosses, lichens and liverworts all begging to be photographed. Colin and Martin even managed to grab a beautiful shot of a creepy tree, which I pointed out in my recent YouTube video, which I had to leave on that occasion because of grazing red deer. You can see that film here. The flat light is no reason to pack up and go home, so always consider heading for the woods or look for small details in the landscape. In fact, challenge yourself and give yourself an area to work. The small area where I took Colin and Martin kept me busy for a whole day.
Location 3 – Tarn Hows
Think Tarn Hows and you automatically think of the beautiful lake scene from the top of the hill, which you pass on the way to the National Trust car park. Both Colin and Martin had been to Tarn Hows previously but neither had ventured beyond the walk that circumnavigates the lake. Because the light was still flat as a pancake, we headed down a little footpath to the left of the lake and followed the overflow river that heads down a steep wooded hill. There are a number of cascades down there but one in particular is just stunning and on an overcast day, makes for the most beautiful scene. Both Colin and Martin got some lovely shots, although the sheer amount of water that had fallen on the fells that day meant that there was more water on the fall than I would have liked…you can’t have everything!
The image below is one that I took the previous autumn whilst scouting the location.