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Mangart Pass at Sunset, Triglav National Park, Julian Alps, Slovenia

Waiting for the right moment is imperative when photographing landscapes –anticipating the light can turn a mediocre scene into a stunning image…

There are times in landscape photography when all the elements come together to create a very special image. It’s one of the things that drives me as a photographer to keep creating images. This happened last year during my workshop on top of a mountain in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. It had been overcast all day, which was perfect for photographing the autumn colours in the mountain forests of larch trees, but the plan was to finish the day on top of the mountains for sunset. Unfortunately it was still overcast and didn’t look like we would even see the sun let alone have a good sunset. No matter, the views alone over Slovenia, Italy and Austria are staggering and best of all it’s achieved without a strenuous hike. Being optimistic, we waited it out until a small opening in the clouds gently started to reveal itself.

All it takes is one moment

With a little bit of luck, I thought the sun might just appear through the opening to give us a stunningly beautiful sunburst. I had my group set up and ready for any eventuality. We stopped our lenses down to f/22 to help create a sunburst effect should the sun make an appearance. Within just a few minutes, the sun burst through the hole in the clouds, gloriously bathing the valley below in light. We all thought, ‘wow that was dramatic,’ but we still had a little while before the sun would go below the horizon. As we waited with bated breath, the clouds began to separate and, just after sunset, the sky started to turn pink. Within minutes, the colour spread across the sky turning to a deep crimson. The cloud shapes almost mimicked the sinuous shapes of the mountains. There were smiles all around, wows and even a hushed ‘awesome’ was heard somewhere. We all knew we had experienced something rather special and, best of all, only the five of us in our group were there to capture this. It feels so much better when you have an exclusive view these days.

Shiver with anticipation…

One of the most important aspects of landscape photography that I demonstrate in the field is how to anticipate the light to achieve the most from a location. Using apps such as Dark Sky to determine cloud cover, wind speed and precipitation probability along with local weather forecasts, I feel like a meteorologist, but it’s all essential to give you a greater chance of capturing those special photographs. One afternoon, we were photographing Lake Jasna under these pleasantly clear skies. The mountains reflecting in the lake were absolutely fantastic, but there wasn’t a single cloud around the mountains, so not really ideal for an exceptional sunset. I could see mackerel clouds drifting in from a distance and calculated the rate they were moving. They should cover the sky over the mountains by sunset, so dinner would have to wait. We waited and, within a half hour, we were capturing these fantastical pink mackerel clouds over the mountains, reflecting beautifully in the lake below. I love it when a plan comes together, especially when you’ve placed yourself in a location with an image in your mind and that image becomes a reality purely by anticipating the light.

I run photography workshops throughout the year, both in the UK and abroad, where you can enjoy incredible landscapes and improve your techniques for capturing them. Have a look at my current workshops here.

Jasna Lake at Sunset, Julian Alps, Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Jasna Lake at Sunset, Julian Alps, Triglav National Park, Slovenia



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