How to Make the Most of Bad Light in Landscape Photos

Too often you’re out on a shoot, scrambling over rocks and trudging through mud to chase that perfect light – then, all of a sudden, the clouds roll in and you’re faced with a flat, grey landscape. Whilst some of us might give up or feel disheartened at this point, photographer Nigel Danson is here to show us that with a bit of effort, flat light can be just as beautiful.

In his latest video, Danson heads to the misty peaks and rocky ridges of Snowdonia National Park, hoping to catch sunrise over the area’s beautiful lakes and valleys.

Armed with a Fuji XT2, a 10-24mm f/4 lens, and a 35mm f/2, Danson scales the jagged volcanic rock to camp out just above Devil’s Kitchen – home to an iconic waterfall sweeping out amongst the crags.

But, unsurprisingly, things don’t go to plan; the Welsh weather keeps the clouds (and rain!) thick in the sky. Yet despite the hazy conditions, Danson remains enthusiastic and keeps on shooting to show us how we can make the most of flat light in any landscape.

#1 Look for Shapes

When the light is flat, Danson suggests that you turn your eye to shapes in the landscape. These shapes can give depth, texture, and interest to a scene when light is lacking. Diagonal lines, reflections on lakes, and mountain grooves are just some of the examples to forge eye-catching compositions.

Read more: How Horizon Placement Affects Depth

#2 Know Your Light

When we look out across an overcast landscape it can all seem a bit flat and lacking contrast, but Danson points out that there are subtle differences which could really add drama to a scene. Although our eyes may not notice these, the camera will pick out a lot more contrast and make for some emotive imagery.

#3 Work the Foreground

In landscape photography, foreground is often touted as essential to crafting great imagery. But, in overcast conditions, foreground is even more important when there’s little in the way of interesting light to work with. Danson suggests getting down low in your scene, making the foreground appear larger. He also recommends adding a person or animal into the composition, as a great way to add depth.

To see more of Danson’s work, visit his website, Instagram, and YouTube.

For added inspiration, take a look at his 3 Simple Tips to Improve Your Summer Landscapes.

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Ed Carr is a Yorkshire-born landscape photographer and nature writer. Having spent his youth in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, he takes any opportunity to don his hiking boots and head out, camera in hand. When not out taking pictures or hastily scribbling down his thoughts, Ed’s halfway up a hill out chasing after his dog, Hendrix.

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