It’s all about light
Light. It’s what photographers obsess about.
Whether you’re a landscape photographer or a portrait photographer (or any kind of photographer), you can deploy light to evoke mood in your images.
We all have our go-to lighting… mine’s side-lighting and back-lighting. They allow shadows to dominate, pull our attention to the cool bits of the image, and really make for super-dramatic images.
Here’s a landscape and a portrait – both lit using side-lighting (the light filtering in from the side, almost perpendicular to camera axis). Side-lighting picks up on certain aspects of the subject/scene, while keeping other parts in shadow. If you shoot during the golden hours, the lighting is warmer.
As viewers, our gaze are drawn to the bright bits that emerge from the dark, and the shadows work as a kind of negative space that pushes the gaze to the lit parts of the subject or scene.
And here’s a back-lit landscape and portrait — shot where the light (out of frame) is high and behind the scene or subject. Back-lighting shows us even less of the scene or subject and allows us to literally “paint” a dark canvas with light.
In the portrait, shot with the aperture wide open, the backlight bleeds into the lens, creating a soft flare effect that can give an other-worldly or vintage look to your image.
Side- and back-lighting can take a bit of effort and experience to learn and master, but the evocative images that they produce make it well worth the effort!