Choosing Between Lighting and Scenery

Every photographer has different goals and values; some will favor good light while others will favor nice scenery. It's not always possible to have both so which do you choose?

I don't carry a magic eight ball or Ouija board in my camera bag but 9 times out of 10 I seem to choose light. Recently, I was staying at Lake Louise, a very famous place, and the photographers had lined up on shore before sunrise. The lighting by the lake was flat and the scene looked dull; the magic eight ball would have said "looks doubtful". There was some beautiful colour starting to show on the opposite horizon so I quickly broke away from the herd.

Excited I started to follow the outlet creek towards the light. The scene was beautiful -- a perfect winter wonderland with snow covered trees, a flowing creek, and beautiful colour in the sky. For a brief moment I thought about the tripods around the lake and as Mr.T would say: "I pitied the fools". When faced with a choice between great light and great scenery I will always go with the first option. For me lighting is the most important element to creating stunning outdoor photos.

HDR photo example taken in Lake Louise

This image was created by blending multiple exposures (darker and lighter images) in Photoshop. Typically the foreground will be composed of the longer exposures while the sky will mostly contain parts from the shorter exposures. Further edits to colours and contrast are made to complete the image.