Better than Photoshop

One of the most important lessons I have learnt so far as a photographer is the importance of light and weather conditions to create mood and atmosphere in an image. A landscape can look really different depending on when you photograph it.

With todays tools in Lightroom and Photoshop it’s easy to think that we can fix everything in post process. There’s even software for adding light and mist, replacing skies etc. Photography gradually becomes more and more computer generated. Why?

Photography to me, and I think most of you agree, is about the experience of being out in the landscape trying to capture what is there. Out there we get to experience those joyful moments through the viewfinder. Not creating them in front of a screen.

Don’t misunderstand me. Post-processing is important, but I think it should be used to enhance what’s already there. It’s about the quality of light.

Same landscape - Different light

Here’s an example of how important light and weather conditions can be in landscape photography. It’s from the river Piteälven in Lapland, Sweden and shows the same scene photographed in different conditions. I recommend that you take some time to study the two images below. What has changed?

Before:  This image was made during a scouting hike along the river the evening before. Although a beautiful scene the light isn’t that interesting.

Before: This image was made during a scouting hike along the river the evening before. Although a beautiful scene the light isn’t that interesting.

After:  Here’s what the same scene looked like the following morning. Light quality and mist creates a much stronger photograph. Just look at how much more depth there is in the background. Here the mist works its wonders.

After: Here’s what the same scene looked like the following morning. Light quality and mist creates a much stronger photograph. Just look at how much more depth there is in the background. Here the mist works its wonders.

The first image is from a scouting hike along the river the evening before. I looked for interesting compositions and made a few exposures but the light wasn’t right.

The second image is from the following morning. As sunrise approached the landscape bathed in wonderful warm light and the mist created a special mood and added depth to the scene.

This example illustrates what landscape photography is to me. It’s about the light and the moment as much as it is about the landscape itself. It also shows the importance of coming back to a place to get the conditions right.

With this post I want to encourage you to pay more attention to the light, even the subtle nuances, when you’re out photographing. As the example above shows it can really make a huge difference.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Magnus Lindbom