Weather always plays a big role in landscape photography. I study the weather so that I can put myself – and my workshop students – in the right place at the right time. But a little luck always helps.
During my recent workshops up in the redwood country, along the northern California coast, we found some wonderful juxtapositions of fog and sunlight. One morning, during the second week, we pulled up to a trailhead and everyone immediately got out their cameras because we saw beautiful godbeams right from the parking area. But, as it turns out, we didn’t need to rush. Usually these sun-breaking-through fog moments are fleeting, but it turns out that we were right at the top of a relatively stable fog bank, so the mixture of sun and fog lasted for hours along parts of the trail. The photograph above is just one of many sunbeam photographs I made that morning, and everyone in the group came away with some great images from that day.
The week before, we were driving toward Trinidad to photograph sea stacks along the shore, but when we passed a meadow enveloped in fog I took a detour, because I thought there was a good chance that we’d be able to photograph the sun breaking through the fog. As the fog burned off we were able to position the sun behind a row of redwoods at the edge of the meadow, and photograph the sunbeams shooting out and up above the trees. The photograph below is one example.
Planning is vital in photography, but so is flexibility. We can’t control the weather, but we can adapt ourselves to it, and sometimes that means deviating from your plan. Serendipity can be a photographer’s best friend.
I bet most of you have experienced one of those serendipitous photography moments, so please feel free to share stories and links in the comments!
— Michael Frye
Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite, Yosemite Meditations, and Digital Landscape Photography: In the Footsteps of Ansel Adams and the Great Masters, plus the eBooks Light & Land: Landscapes in the Digital Darkroom, and Exposure for Outdoor Photography. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and his images have been published in over thirty countries around the world. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite National Park since 1983, currently residing just outside the park in Mariposa, California.