Why Do My Landscape Photos Still Suck?

You’ve bought a new camera, spent a boat-load of money on it too. You’ve studied every last thing you can find on how to use it. You can change camera settings like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture pretty much blindfolded. You’re a master of your new toy.

However your photos are still missing something. Ok, lets be honest, they’re boring.

Be There And Make Them Better.

Here’s my super secret tip that is guaranteed to take your photos from Ho-Hum to Oh My!

Over the dunes and to the sea. Parker River NWR.


It’s so simple you’ll wonder why you never thought of it.

Are you ready for it?

Sunrise Over Glacial Striations, Fort Foster, Kittery, Maine


You Need To Be There When Mother Nature Is Showing Off!

It really is that simple.


You know your camera inside and out, you have at least a basic idea of how to compose a decent photo, so what else is missing?

The right light. Dramatic weather. Both at the same time! These are the things that can add greatly to the quality and impact of your photos.

This means being on the seacoast for sunrise at least 30-45 minutes prior to actual sunrise. So sleep becomes a casualty in your pursuit of great photos. No more showing up at 9 a.m. to that scene you’ve seen in so many photos and wondering why your photos don’t even come close.

It means long early morning hikes in the dark so you can be on that mountain top for sunrise or equally long and dark hikes down after sunset. Better get a good headlamp. Make that two, just in case.

It also means freezing your butt off and often coming away with nothing because the forecast was way wrong. It means getting rained on because you gambled, and lost, on the sun coming up before the approaching storm clouds reached the horizon to block it out. You will get blown by high winds. You will suffer.


And when you make that amazing dramatic photograph, you’ll forget all of that. You’ll only remember the light, the drama, the magic.

Morning Gold, Hampton Beach, NH

Somewhere right at this moment Mother Nature is putting on a show, are you missing it?


23 thoughts on “You Have To Be There!

  1. I love the talk….it’s difficult to always walk it though. I try – on a recent trip to an Indian hill station called Auli, I woke up early and trekked up to a temple. As I clicked pictures, I heard a bit of growling, which didn’t at all sound like a dog. Afraid it might be a leopard, I abandoned my post and rushed back to the safety of the hotel. I was told later there were two leopards roaming around in that area around that time. Phew!

    1. Fortunately here in the northeastern U.S. we don’t really have any dangerous wildlife to contend with. We do have black bears, but they’re usually more afraid of us and don’t stick around long.

  2. You are so right – at least for landscape photography. One good thing about living in Scotland is that the days are short so you can still get plenty of sleep between sunrise and sunset – at least in the winter!

    1. That’s why I am so looking forward to winter. Sunrise at around 6:30 or so is so much nicer than sunrise at 5! And with sunset coming so much earlier it means I may actually get to bed at a reasonable hour too.

  3. So true, I always remember the colors and dramatic light and forget about being cold,wet,sleepy or hungry. Being in the moment and ever grateful for the gift of time to witness the glory is the most important lesson photography has taught me.

  4. Yes, indeed..nowadays I forgo the early hours and leave those to folk, younger and bouncier than I am…Folk like you!! Lovely series, that demonstrate just perfectly what you mean.

  5. Most of our killer water and sky shots are in the evenings, because we’re on the west coast. However, some of the most amazing skies I’ve seen are early morning winterish ones when the sun rises directly behind Mt Baker. Glorious are those. However, I have rarely seen them, and when I have I’ve either never had my camera handy, or make it a place to get a good shot just a little too late — so I am very glad that photographers (such as you) with better discipline, skill and equipment do take, and share, these wonderful moments. Thank you!

  6. Yes, somewhere Mother Nature nature is creating a spectacle. And I’m missing it. I know I am. But there is nothing I can do about that. That somewhere isn’t here where I live. That coast, that waterfall, that sunrise is is about 2 hours ways from here. I’ve waited out in the rain. I’ve stood out long enough to to risk frostbite. But … The choice for me, isn’t between sleep and the spectacle. It’s between the spectacle and the risk of getting fired because of to to work 2 hours late. Why does it seem the best days are dying the week?

    I missed another great this morning. Hurt my leg — it’s in a brace — on Thursday night and the spouse refused to get up at 4AM go drive me 2 hours to the Jersey shore. Besides I can’t carry the equipment. That leg.


    1. Khurt, I know all too well how that darn day job interferes with quality photography time. So many great sunrises, sunsets, and otherwise great light and photo ops are driven by to and from work.

  7. Great advice! Anytime I am out there in less than optimal light I just consider it a scouting trip. Even going out at the right time doesn’t guarantee success but your chances of capturing a winner are much, much better!

    1. Same here. A photo trip is never a waste of time, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Sometimes even when the weather doesn’t do what I had hoped I still come away with a decent photo or two.

  8. I know, I know! You’ve told me so and proved me so, so many times! I’ve seen the difference in my pictures when I’m there and not and I know you’re right… but.. there’s always a “but,” so I guess it’s my fault if I’m still bored with my pictures…
    I guess I’m not ready to go pro yet 😉 my good excuse…

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