Photography means "drawing with light". In landscape photography in particular, the right lighting, such as a warm morning light, a glowing blazing evening sky or a starry night sky, give the subjects a really special complexion.
This is why I am always on the lookout for spectacular lighting and if possible I visit landscapes several times so that I can capture them at different moments.
As a basic rule, having the sun behind you provides perfectly illuminated and clear landscapes with "stage lighting". However, when the sun shines from the side in a streak of light, this produces a quite special three-dimensional depth that is ideal for landscapes such as a line of mountain peaks one behind the other. Most of the time I use the shadow from the sun shining directly opposite me for spectacular sunrises and sunsets and depict the landscape in front of me as a black silhouette.
My favorite time of day for photography would have to be the golden hour (directly after sunrise/before sunset) and the blue hour (before sunrise/after sunset); they produce such warm and almost even magical lighting.
When planning to use particular lighting, nowadays we photographers are lucky to have a wide range of special tools to choose from. Alongside navigation apps, which I use to travel through locations virtually and survey them in detail from the comfort of my home, there are various websites and special photography apps I can plan everything with - right to the simulation of every conceivable lighting situation for any location on earth at any time. This includes information on the level of the sun, moon, and the Milky Way and their corresponding rising and setting times.
On my last trip to Turkmenistan I prepared intensively beforehand so I was able to plan which subject I wanted to photograph and from which location—this meant I had much less time pressure and knew I had enough time to sleep for a bit for once! It also meant that I did not run the risk of missing spectacular shots such as the "Gates of Hell" just as twilight sets in, the incredible starry sky without the disruptive light of the moon, the Milky Way above a small village in the desert or its golden sunset.
For the night shots, I was far less technical by using my own artificial light source—a very strong flashlight! It allowed me to illuminate pitch-black desert landscapes as needed in the middle of the night without the light of the moon.
I recommend that all photographers should use a wide range of tools and options when preparing for a trip so that they can use the many different light sources and situations to "draw" their subjects as creatively as possible.
Author & Photographer: Adrian Rohnfelder