Time of Year and Direction of Light

Posted by on January 22, 2016

Ingleborough from Ribblehead, Yorkshire Dales

Ingleborough from Ribblehead, Yorkshire Dales

Light is a subject that we talk about rather a lot on our workshops. Different times of day – sunrise, sunset, twilight and weather conditions all play their part in determining how your selected landscape subject is lit. Also, time of year has a big impact on lighting your subject due to the different direction of sunrise and sunset through the months.

Ribblehead in the Yorkshire Dales provides a great example of this and we generally have a look at the two images above in our workshop introduction. Both are taken at sunset, but at different times of the year. In summer the sun sets round to the north-west so in the shot on the left the foreground limestone pavement is illuminated diagonally over my shoulder and the light falls directly on the fells in the distance. However, at the spring and autumn equinoxes the sun sets due west, so the limestone is sidelit and the face of Ingleborough in the distance doesn’t really get any light. Fortunately in the right hand shot above, which was taken just before the spring equinox in mid-March, there had been a later winter snowfall which lightened up the fells nicely.

Frozen Pool and Park Fell Simon Fell and Ingleborough at Sunset

Park Fell, Simon Fell and Ingleborough at Sunset

In the middle of winter, the sun sets round to the south west, which makes this viewpoint a little tricky.  So on my visit this week I timed my walk back from Southerscales so that I was around Ivescar at sunset, giving a more face on view to Park Fell and Simon Fell (which get some nice direct light as the sun goes down) with Ingleborough of the far right of the shot.  The nice frozen pool in the foreground was a bonus!  After the sun dropped below the horizon I carried on back to the viaduct where the view back down toward Ingleborough was available again in the soft twilight.

If you’d like to join us for some photography around Ribblehead, take a look at our Ribblehead Workshop page.  It’s just before the autumn equinox, so there should be some nice side-lighting at the end of the day (weather permitting)!

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