There is nice soft light to be found at both the start and the end of the day, but my preference for making landscape photographs always seems to be the morning (though the one above was in the evening). I’ve been somewhat curious as to why I prefer to get up at early o’clock, and despite actually spending time trying to come up with a definitive answer, I have never really been able to put my finger on the true reason… until now.
Some theories I have considered include:
- Since I’m on the right-hand coast, and considering that the sun generally rises in the eastern sky, it makes sense that to take advantage of that warm, golden light hitting the majority of east facing landscapes, I would need to plan accordingly for an early start.
- While technically I find it just as difficult as the next person to get up at 4:00 a.m. to leave the house in time to arrive at a particular location for the best light, I genuinely don’t seem to mind getting up early… besides, I have learned that the payoff can be worth it.
- While I have no problem sharing a gorgeous vista with others, I also enjoy (prefer) the solitude of being in such a place all by myself. So, if sunrise is at 6:00 a.m., and sunset is at 6:00 p.m., which of these times do you think people are more likely to be around?
- I’ve heard there is some scientific mumbo-jumbo about how the light at sunrise and the light at sunset are different… err, OK… but none of these are the true reason why I like to make photographs in the morning.
Looking across toward Turtle Island and Cadillac Mountain, the photograph above was made from Raven’s Nest on the Schoodic peninsula within Acadia National Park, and it was while making this image that my suspicions about why I prefer to shoot in the morning were confirmed. The image above was made at 7:41 p.m. and the one below at 7:47 p.m. – that’s about 45 minutes after the sun had set. It was only when I had finished making these photographs – standing on the edge of the ocean – that I truly comprehended how dark it had become.
Though I’m quite accustomed to arriving at a morning location while it is still dark out, I’m also used to the day then getting progressively lighter as I go about my business, so as I stood on a high cliff overlooking the ocean, I’m not afraid to admit that the unfamiliar darkness began to make me a little uneasy. Of course I was never in any danger, but getting a sense of where the trail was and which tree roots I shouldn’t trip over posed a challenge in itself, and I also quite suddenly and acutely became aware of the heightened sounds of nature all around me – both the deadly silence and the strange, random noises that I hadn’t even heard five minutes earlier – and I admit to getting a little spooked.
Luckily I had my Petzl headlamp to illuminate the path back to my car through what had now been transformed into an eerie, shadow-filled, and creepy forest. It was only as I hurriedly ditched my gear in the back seat of the car and quickly drove off (before anyone or anything could knock on my rolled up window) that everything clicked… I’m a big scaredy pants when it comes to being alone in the woods after dark… and that’s why, when it comes to landscape photography, I’m definitely a morning person!