Light is the life force of all landscape photographers; it can make or break an image. Learning about light should be your primary goal if you are a landscape photographer. This is an easy primer about light and the difference it can make in an image. Underexposing a stop will often increase the color saturation when shooting at the edges of light. Use graduated neutral density filters, polarizers and solid neutral density filters as needed. It is important to arrive at your spot at least an hour before sunrise or sunset; there is nothing more difficult than running around looking for a composition at the last minute. Composing takes time and careful thought.
It is important to remember that when shooting sunrise or sunset there are clues that tell you where you are in the progression of light and time. When shooting at sunrise there is a change of hue giving an indication of the progression of daylight beginning with the predawn colors: blue, lavender, pink, red, orange, yellow…all of these may appear quickly one after the other but when it hits the yellow color, that’s when you are about finished with sunrise.
Sunset is the opposite but after sunset you may be able to continue shooting for quite a while in the twilight hours, even continuing into darkness if you choose to photograph the stars. So here is the progression of sunset: yellow, orange, red, pink, lavender, blue, then black…remember that an hour after sunset there is twilight with beautiful blue skies for photographing cities enabling the buildings to stand out against the sky; whereas with a black sky, the buildings have no edges and disappear.
Also, in the mountains and sometimes along the shore there is a brief moment of alpen glow when the sky suddenly lights up with a pink color after the sun sets.
Here are some examples of the effects of sunlight on an image:
There is a lot of work involved in landscape photography. It may seem easy to get a good shot of sunrise and sunset, but that is deceiving. The best landscape photographers in the world trek for weeks looking for the best compositions in the best light…Here is a site of a few of the top landscape photographers; let it inspire you to improve and work harder at composition: http://worldclasslandscapephotographers.com/