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Landscapes often look at their best at the beginning and end of the day. Shadows lengthen, contrast changes and relief and form are more apparent. The illusion of depth then becomes easier to incorporate in to a two-dimension image. The light also changes in significant ways. At dawn the it is fresh and gentle, and near dusk it is likely to be warm and soft. When light levels are very low the sky turns black and colour drains from the landscape to give a monochromatic image.

Landscape photographers tend to do most of their photography in the early morning or late afternoon, and reserve the middle of the day when the light is flat for travelling and exploring potential locations. However, not all low-light conditions occur at the beginning and end of the day. Heavy cloud and storm conditions can lead to very low light levels and also produce very dramatic lighting. Circumstances such as these that produce wonderful landscapes at any time of day

On the coast, light levels are similarly low early in the morning and late in the evening. The colour of the sea changes with the elevation of the sun and the time of the day. In the mornings it is cool and bluish whereas later in the afternoon it tends towards warmer colours. The mood of the water is also intimately linked with the weather conditions, and can therefore be used to enhance the impression of calm or storm.

Landscape photographs normally use long exposures because they require maximum depth of field and must therefore use small apertures. They also like to use slow grain-free film or low ISO settings to reduce noise with digital capture. These are the principal reasons why they always work with tripods. However, in poor light the exposures get even longer and may be measured in minutes. Some landscape elements benefit from slow shutter speeds. A waterfall, and moving water in general, appears soothing and soft when the water is blurred by its motion during the exposure. The effect can be stunning and sets the mood for an image.


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