Flat Light: how to bring your dull images back to life

    | Landscape | Photography Tips | 27/03/2013 11:51am

    Is flat light killing your landscape photography? These great camera tips from a seasoned professional photographer will show you how to take control of flat light and use it to your advantage.

    Flat Light: how to bring your dull images back to life

    All images by Mark Hamblin

    If you’ve heard a landscape picture described as ‘flat’, you may be wondering what that actually means. Well flat images are those that look rather lifeless and uninteresting, not because of the content, but because they lack contrast, depth, detail and colour. And this is often down to flat light.

    Flat light is light that is diffused, such as on an overcast day, or is illuminating the scene from the same angle as the picture is being taken – when the sun is high behind the camera, for example – will produce landscapes that lack interest.

    No one wants to take dull landscape pictures, so here’s how to ensure you achieve scenic success.

    How to use flat light to your advantage

    How to use flat light to your advantage: step 1

    Avoid grey skies
    For some subjects such as waterfalls, overcast light from a grey sky is exactly what you need, but for big landscape vistas it’s a curse. As a rule, if the sky looks insipid and lacks any interest then so will your landscape images, so shoot something else instead and return on another day.


    How to use flat light to your advantage: step 2

    Try side-lighting your landscapes
    You need shadows to add character to your landscapes and to bring out shape and form. If the sun is behind you, shadows will be minimal and hidden. Instead, orientate the camera so the landscape is lit by sunlight coming in from either side of the frame.


    How to use flat light to your advantage: step 3

    Shoot when the sun is low
    The periods early and late in the day are often referred to as the golden hours for landscape photography, and for good reason. Not only is the light much warmer at these times, but the sun is also at a low indirect angle, which creates long shadows and adds depth, vibrancy and interest.


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    Posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 11:51 am under Landscape, Photography Tips.

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