Natural Lighting and How it Affects Your Shot

 Albert Dros

Leaving things to chance isn’t something that photographer Albert Dros likes to do, especially when it comes to lighting. “I plan everything. When will I get the best light? When is the sun coming up and going down? What is the weather like? If I am shooting reflections, I even find out what the wind speed and direction will be. I know the scene that I am going to photograph before I even arrive.” 

It’s this meticulous attention to detail that transforms the incredible landscapes in Albert’s images. His eye for composition and colour was honed from his past as a graphic designer. 

“I only started to get serious about photography about six years ago, whilst I was in Hong Kong. There was so much to photograph! From the neon lights that look so beautiful when reflected on the wet city streets, to the often unexplored hills, mountains and national parks that are found just 45 minutes outside of the city.”

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RII provence landscape at night long exposure
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R II | 25s, ISO 6400

It was in this environment that Albert fell in love with shooting landscape images. “I have found that I can bring many elements of my design background into my landscape photography. From the basic rules of composition and using lines, to the way the light can enhance colour and contrast. There is so much to play with.”

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RII dramatic lighting on distant volcano
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R II + 55mm f/1.8 ZA | 10s @ f/1.8, ISO 3200

The planning that goes into Albert’s images is designed to give him the best possible chance of walking away with a great image. Like all landscape photographers however, Albert is still at the mercy of the weather.

“Planning according to the weather is very difficult, especially in the Netherlands. I look at all the predictions – the high clouds, the low clouds, the wind direction. Of course, it doesn’t always work out and shots still fail, but I really like to explore. I will sometimes go out somewhere and just see what happens. Often, I have a place where I have planned to go and capture an image, but I will end up coming home with another shot that I didn’t expect to take.”

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RII amsterdam canal at night long exposure

© Albert Dros | Sony α7R II | 30s, ISO 50

Albert uses only a handful of lenses, mostly the FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens, alongside his camera to help him to capture the perfect wide-angle landscape shots. He explains: “I really love the wide perspectives that I can capture and I can be extremely creative with it. At 12mm you get this different perspective that not many people shoot.” An exception to this is when he is hiking in mountains and hills, in which case he will bring along his FE 70-300mm f/4-5.6 G lens because of its light zoom, giving his images a new perspective.

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RIII first light hitting a snowy mountainside
© Albert Dros | Sony α7R II + 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G | 1/320s @ f/10, ISO 100

Albert was hiking and used this lens when he captured this spectacular image, a solitary sunlit mountain peak. 

“I still remember the moment I was shooting in the mountains. At sunrise and sunset, you get this kind of afterglow, as although the sun is below the horizon, the peaks of the mountains are still tall enough to be lit. When you live in the mountains you know this, but I live in the Netherlands, which is a really flat country, so for me it was a huge learning experience. You often get the best light 30 minutes before or after the sun rises or sets as you get these crazy colours. When you look at the scene you don’t always see it, they aren’t as strong, but with the camera you can expose for longer and really draw them out.”

Albert Dros Sony Alpha 7RII the shark mountain landscape

© Albert Dros | Sony α7R II + 16-35mm f/2.8 GM | 1/50s @ f/8.0, ISO 100

With all the planning and preparation Albert can walk away with images that use stunning natural light to highlight their beauty. There is just one final step to get the final, finished, image. “I like to enhance the light in my pictures to make them look as good as possible. I really like to photograph with drama and light that is already there, and all I am doing in my processing is enhancing that magical moment.’’

Top Tips For Unique landscapes

Take a camera everywhere and find out what style of photography you are passionate about.

Find your own style and perspective and try to be different.

Plan your shoots as much as possible before you leave the house. This will increase the chance of getting the perfect shot.

Give yourself plenty of time - arrive at the location an hour before you want to take the image, for example an hour before sunrise or sunset.

Process your images so that you are enhancing the natural colour and light.

 Products featured in this article 

ILCE-7RM2

α7R II with back-illuminated full-frame image sensor

ILCE-7RM3

α7R III 35mm full-frame camera with autofocus

SEL1635GM

FE 16-35mm F2.8 GM

SEL70300G

FE 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 G OSS

SEL55F18Z

Sonnar T* FE 55mm F1.8 ZA

Albert Dros
Alpha universe

Albert Dros

Netherlands

I am obsessed with getting the perfect shot.

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