A photographer friend of ours once told us that morning light is best for photography. He was right. Just as the light is perfect in the evening, the soft light in the morning makes for a perfect picture.
Mark, our wise photographer friend, is normally found at concerts, taking professional shots of musicians in action. But the one morning we met up with him at Mount Nemo Conservation Area near Milton, Ontario, he was dressed for a hike and ready to rock’ n roll on the trails.
With Tim Horton’s coffees in hand, we talked about photography tips Mark showed me how to take back lit photos of a leaf. We talked about using the aperture feature on our cameras for better control of light. And we talked about how the morning light makes for soft lighting on subjects.
Then we were off to put these tips into action.
Morning Light For Photography Is Great For Hikers
We went hiking very early at Mount Nemo Conservation Area primarily because I wanted to learn new photography skills from Mark. However, there are a few other reasons why I loved the 7 a.m. walk.
- The Golden Hour – the first hour after sunrise, and last hour before sunset – offers the best illumination of natural subjects and landscapes. The sun is low in the sky, making a diffused light that softly illuminates your subject. It goes by quickly, so you may need to go back to your location a few times to capture everything you would like to with your camera.
- No distractions! There are almost no other hikers on the trail at this time of the day. Mount Nemo is one of the more popular places for Torontonians and locals for walking in nature. It gets busier as the day progresses. There’s nothing worse that being distracted by a group of people tramping through the forest. You have time to set up your shot in peace. Nobody is passing by you on the trail and nobody is standing in your way. If you have a tripod (recommended), you don’t have somebody tripping over the legs.
- You can capture photos with cool effects – backlit leaves and flowers, spider webs, sun-bathed valleys and landscapes, and sunlight streaming through a misty forest make for interesting photos.
Tips For A Great Photography Experience
- Arrive early to set-up. While we arrived just at the perfect time, I would recommend getting to your destination a bit earlier to get your camera and tripod set up. You may need a flashlight (or your phone if it has a flashlight feature) to see the camera settings.
- Wear the right boots. I confess, I went off the trail just a little bit (bad Margaret) to try and get a sun lit shot of a spider weaving his web. As I was balancing on a rock and rotting branch and not using my tripod, the photos came out a bit shaky. Hiking boots are a must if you are on uneven ground and always a must-have if you’re hiking the Niagara Escarpment trails.
- Speaking of Escarpments, please, please, please use common sense. A great shot is not worth your life. Stay clear of the Escarpment edge!
- Dress for the morning temperature. We wore layers, so as the morning got warmer, we could peel them off. While the weather conditions weren’t the best with cloudy skies, passing rain showers and a brisk wind, it was nevertheless one of the better hikes I had in a long time because I was comfortable.
- Bring a hot drink. We also had our coffee with us – I recommend bringing a small snack and thermos with coffee or tea to keep you warm if the morning is very cool.
Mount Nemo Conservation Area Is Beautiful
This was my first time hiking the trails at Mount Nemo Conservation Area and I would highly recommend them. They offer not only beautiful views of the landscape below the escarpment, but also trees and plants for detailed photography.
The next time you want to sleep in, you may want to remind yourself: “The early bird gets the worm.” And in this case… “the early bird gets the shot.”
Here are a few of the photos I took: