How to handle clear blue skies in your landscape photography and make incredible images

“As landscape photographers, we often dread seeing a week-long clear sky prediction for our photography trips…” goes the voice-over at the beginning of this video. Honestly, after more than a month of rain every day lately I’d take a clear sky any day. We’ve had the wettest March since 1950. In fact, the weather has been so un-Spanish that authorities are considering changing the official language to English to stay in line with the precipitation levels*. But I digress.

Back to the video and those elusive bright blue skies. What on earth are you going to do as a landscape photographer should you ever encounter them? Well, Michael Shainblum has the answer in this excellent video.

The video contains some wonderful footage of Death Valley National Park and Michael has some really great tips for making the most out of the landscape in front of you, even in less than ideal for photography weather conditions.

As Michael says, the skies in Death Valley are almost always clear and being one of the driest places on earth this makes sense. What he does is to wait for the sun to dip behind the horizon so that the remaining light is beautifully diffused.

The other key point to bear in mind is that they are shooting telephoto images of the badlands details, so the softer diffused light is helping to open up the shadows and bring out much more of the colours than would be seen in direct sun. Reds, oranges, and even turquoise can clearly be seen after the sun goes behind the horizon. Note that none of the images contains any actual sky.

The resulting images are quite breathtaking in the detail, and it’s a really great reminder to be flexible and shoot for the conditions presented to you. We don’t always get the luxury of having the perfect weather when we want it, however, with a little planning and flexibility and creativity, we can always make the most of what we do have to work with.

Two weeks ago I gave up waiting for nice weather and went out to photograph the storm at the beach in the wind and rain. I actually ended up with some of my favourite recent photographs.

What is your favourite weather to shoot in?

*Actually a joke, please don’t take this statement as fact!

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