on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Softly Does it

Soft Light Photography

Paul Moon

Paul Moon

Paul Moon is a landscape photographer from East Yorkshire and has spent 18 years documenting the Yorkshire Wolds - the UK's most northerly mainland chalk upland. It is known for its steep sided dry chalk dales which spread for miles throughout the area.


While I was in the process of learning to photograph the landscape (and still am!) I was intrigued by a comment from a fellow photographer that when the light was soft and flat it was details weather. I fully understand that details work really well under soft lighting conditions but what was wrong with trying to shoot a vista in soft, flat light?SummerTrack

The British Isles’ weather systems are notoriously fickle, rain one day, sun the next, and dull weather isn’t that far away and probably makes up 30% of our weather conditions. Of course we should try our hand at close up and intimate landscapes in the soft light but I prefer a challenge when I’m out on my travels. So I began to experiment with shooting vistas in soft, flat light.

I should point out that where I live the landscape is a mix of arable and pasture which doesn’t lend itself to the softly lit vista. Let me expand on this. Having visited places like Scotland and the Lake District where the weather can be overcast and dull it is relatively easy to create images that work in soft light.

Strong elements such as mountains, lakes and lochs, rivers, rocky outcrops and boulders etc can add strong graphic elements to an image and using the available soft light you can create moody and atmospheric images. Coastal images can also be shot in soft light especially after dusk where the sea can be used to reflect late colour in the sky and when conditions are stormy adding mood and atmosphere.

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