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  • Writer's pictureAmos Ravid

Clear sky solutions - Landscape photography on clear days

Updated: May 29

As landscape photographers we always hope for nice clouds in the sky. Thay add interesting texture and create those beautiful colors during sunrise and sunset that we love so much. But what happens on a clear day? You can always stick to the original plan but that might be a bit frustrating. You can also give up and stay in bed, which is even worse, particularly if you are on a trip with a limited time. For the benefit of those who are not happy with these two options here are some suggestions that can be successful even when the conditions are far from ideal. 


Framing 

Framing is a well-known and useful tool in building a composition. It emphasizes the subject and leads the viewer's eye in a natural way. on a clear day it has another advantage - it allows to reduce the weight of the sky in the image. Trees, caves openings, rock arches and many more are examples of elements that can be used for framing. 

A wooden frame
Timmna Park Arch, Amos Ravid Photography
The Big Arch at Timmna Park, southern Israel

Underground Photography 

Caves create a great atmosphere of mystery and often include interesting rock formations. The light coming in from the outside can be utilized or, in deeper caves, artificial lighting can be used. Another advantage is that photographing in caves does not limit us to sunrise or sunset only, so there is an exemption from an alarm clock. Please note that in deep caves there is usually no cellular reception, therefore it is not recommended to enter them alone, and in general, entering caves requires great caution. 

 

Exemption from alarm clock - Underground Photography
Rosh Hanikra - a beautiful location in northern Israel

Night Photography 

Clear days (or nights, to be more precise) are a necessary condition for shooting nightscapes. This is a great option if there are suitable dark locations in your area. In summer the Milky Way is seen in all its glory and if you are in the desert in the night temperatures will also be much more reasonable, so you can take advantage of that (and then you can stay in bed in the morning). 

 

Nightscapes - the ultimate solution for summer

Cityscapes 

Urban landscape is an excellent option to change atmosphere from the wild nature we love so much and to experiment with a different type of landscape photography. The blue hour is the best time for this type of photography in my opinion as it enables combining the artificial lights with the ambient light. The dark hours also work well. In both cases clear sky is not a disadvantage. And there is always the option to have a good beer right after the end of shooting. 

 

Manhattan in the blue hour

Intimate landscapes and abstract photography 

Photographing smaller and closer sections of the landscape, like deep canyons, streams and so on does not require any sky in the frame. Try to use medium to long focal lenses for this type of photography. Abstract is a private case of intimate landscape, but here we are dealing with an even smaller section of the landscape that is disconnected from its context and leaves the viewer's imagination to fill in those gaps. Clear days are a good opportunity to experiment with this style of photography which challenges your creativity but can definitely reward. 

 

Intimacy in landscape photography

Forests 

Forests Photography is a style that is gaining a lot of popularity in recent years. No wonder why. One of its advantages is that it is suitable for any weather, from overcast conditions to a clear sky. Try to avoid the sky as much as possible. Using light that penetrates the forest through the branches can add to the atmosphere as long as it is not too contrasty. As usual, low sun is preferable. 

Forests Photography

Ultra long exposures 

Low summer clouds may not look very attractive against the setting sun, but using a super long exposure of a minute or even more can turn them from a destruction into an interesting addition. For this purpose, an ND filter of 6 or even 10 stops is required.  

Long exposure

I If you can't beat it join it 

Instead of avoiding the clear sky let's go with it all the way by emphasizing complementary colors, yellow and blue for example. On cloudy days we usually like to shoot into the sun but on clear days It is recommended to try to take pictures in all other directions as well. You will get a deep blue color in the sky along with good lighting on the subject. Mountain peaks enjoying the sunrise/sunset glow are a good example of this. 


Zion National Park, Amos Ravid Photography
Clear sky and beautiful sunset glow. Zion National Park
Death Valley National Park, Amos Ravid Photography
Mud cracks and blue sky. Death Valley National Park

Flexibility is the name of the game 

As many have already said - there is no such thing as bad light, only inappropriate subject. A correct choice of location and subject can provide decent results even on clear sky days. Be flexible, change plans if necessary, and you will see that a clear day is not a good excuse for a late wake up. 

 

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