Getting the right light for an image can be a battle, it can involve keeping a constant eye on the position of the sun, checking weather forecasts, getting up at unnatural times, and running around like a mad man when realise you’re in the wrong position to get that shot.
The Golden Hours
By far the best time to get a photo with the most magical light is the first hour after sunrise, and the last hour before sunset. During these times, especially during the autumn and winter months you may find the sky a wonderful multitude of vibrant colours, making the most fantastic and/or peculiar backdrop to even a dull subject. I have found that sometimes you may even have this extraordinary light on days where later in the day the weather is an overcast misery.
If you’re out shooting outside of these special hours, you may want a sky with interesting clouds or a clear sky. An overcast day may be good for black and white though or a moody shot. Be careful though, if the sun is shining strong and bright, you may get hard black shadows. Recently I had this issue. I was trying to take a front on shot of Westminster during the morning, but the sun had moved slightly to the side of the building as opposed to head on, this created deep shadows all over the building making the image look dreadful! Those images quite simply went in the bin!
Silhouettes, sunsets and satisfaction
On my latest mission around London, I captured this image of the London Eye and Westminster in a silhouette. The sun was on the other side of the Eye, making the side of the landmark facing me in the shadows. I then deepened the black to enhance the silhouette appearance.
I then proceeded to St Pauls Cathedral, but disappointingly none of the shots worked out as intended. I will revisit this iconic building in the future though to get shots to be proud of. This is often worth doing in photography, if it doesn’t work the first time, try try again. In the end it’ll probably be worth it! In the case of the below shot this was the case.
So after the St Pauls disappointment, I started to walk back towards Embankment. It was near BlackFriers bridge I noticed the sky behind Westminster and the London Eye was a exquisite yellow orange which blended with colour of Westminster for a wonderful shot. But there was a problem…. I was in the wrong place to get the shot!!!… so like a crazy person, I ran with my tripod in one hand, and my camera in the other about 500 meters towards a spot along the river where I felt the position of the buildings looked perfect, adopted to the rule of thirds and showing clearly what my subject was.
This shows that being in the right place at the right time, having the right equipment (my trusty tripod), can pay wonders to the satisfaction of getting that shot, that you’re going to want to show friends, family and maybe the world!