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A question that I often thought about when I first started out was: Why do other landscape photographers always have these amazing sunsets with a burning sky, the clouds are going crazy and there is a huge thunder storm coming from the left with stunning flashes everywhere?

But after talking to so many photographers, the answer seems pretty simple: Other photographers aren’t any luckier than you or me, they just manage to be at the right spot at the right time. They are even a few hours earlier in order to compose the best possible shot, because you won’t have the time to focus on this amazing sunset while running around to find the perfect position. And these photographers come back—sometimes every day for weeks—until they got these breathtaking clouds they were waiting for.

To be honest, I never thought about this… going back to 1 spot for so many times just seemed odd to me, because usually I just tried to get the best result out of the photos I took. If the sunset was decent and the result was good, I was fine with that and maybe you are too, but the top landscape photographers are not.

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But after talking to so many photographers, the answer seems pretty simple: Other photographers aren’t any luckier than you or me, they just manage to be at the right spot at the right time. They are even a few hours earlier in order to compose the best possible shot, because you won’t have the time to focus on this amazing sunset while running around to find the perfect position. And these photographers come back—sometimes every day for weeks—until they got these breathtaking clouds they were waiting for.

To be honest, I never thought about this… going back to 1 spot for so many times just seemed odd to me, because usually I just tried to get the best result out of the photos I took. If the sunset was decent and the result was good, I was fine with that and maybe you are too, but the top landscape photographers are not.

Season

Some places are most beautiful during spring… others just appeal on snowy winter days. That’s nothing new, but it’s still an important factor for landscape photographers.

You should also think about the number of people in your image. Depending on the season, your chances are better that there are less people at places you would like to photograph. Vacation destinations are usually much easier to shoot outside of vacation season, while other places may be a better choice during the summertime, because that’s the time when a sun rises very early and most of the people are still sleeping.

Think about the right season and time when your desired spot is usually uncomfortable to visit for other people—that’s probably your best available time slot!

Time

The right timing always depends on the spot you want to shoot and where the sun is rising or setting at this place. In my opinion, this usually results in two or or maybe even just one time slot per day when you should be at any particular location: during sunrise or during sunset.

There are always exceptions to the rule, but that’s probably the best available light you can get for your photos. Both events consist of 3 different parts: the golden hour, the sunrise/sunset itself, and the blue hour. The sunset, for example, starts with the golden hour and, after the sunset itself, you still have the blue hour you should use until the sky gets black.

Afterward, the sky is usually too dark, resulting in a huge black part of your image with nearly zero details. Unless you are at this spot to shoot the stars, this is when you normally stop shooting.

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Weather

The weather isn’t particularly predictable for huge periods of time, but you can use the weather forecast a few hours before your trip to choose the right spot for that day. Learn how to read the weather radar and watch out for cloud fronts during sunrise or sunset, and where they are coming from.

Your results will look boring with a huge grey cloud ceiling or without any clouds in the sky at all. That’s why sunshine and “good weather” doesn’t equally mean perfect weather for photography. Often the best timings for dramatic clouds or amazing sunsets are just before or after a storm.

Another important stylistic element is fog, which can add that mystical mood to your photos. Woods, valleys, or castles in particular look great with fog. It’s not fully predictable, but your chances increase during early morning in the spring and autumn. Getting up that early may be uncomfortable, but it’s often worth the effort when you really want that special shot.

Finally, depending on the spot, even rain can add a nice mood to your results. It’s up to us as photographers to decide what feelings we want to convey to the viewer.

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