Shooting Utah’s “Light Seasons”

Shooting Utah's "light seasons" is a term I use to plan photo outings around the state.

Few areas in the lower 48 possess the kind of exquisite light that many photographers can only dream of and Utah is certainly one such place. Living in Utah for most of my adult life and spending a tremendous amount of time exploring the landscape here, have given me a sense of what I call the "light seasons". Each month has its own unique light signature as the sun's position along the horizon changes throughout the year.

With each "light season" I like to choose certain areas of Utah to shoot based on the contour of the land, the colors that seem to "pop" more brilliantly during certain lighting conditions and the quality of the images that I create at the end of the day. Subsequently, there are other more obvious considerations that come into play during certain times of the year such as weather, accessibility and unplanned natural events like rainbows, lightning and rare cloud configurations. The light seasons allow me the opportunity to utilize a photo shoot calendar. Much like an editorial calendar, the photo shoot calendar is a great tool to plan when and where to take photos.

I really don't have a favorite time of year to take landscape photos because each light season have subtle and unique qualities about them that I enjoy equally. For example, autumn in Utah is a photographer's dream when the foliage has peaked. As an example, take a look at the image below, I have named, "Aspen Gold". This image was shot in October of  2014 during an early morning hike to Desolation Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The picture has won much recognition on ViewBug and I believe it was a case of not only the right place at the right time, but the absolute pristine nature of the light that brisk morning. I say "pristine" because the usual haziness of the Summer sky has cleared the way for the wonderful cobalt blue skies we enjoy in Utah.

During the Winter, the cobalt blue skies deepen in hue and the low angle of the sun reduces shadows to a minimum. The Uintah Winter image below is an example of the deepened blue hue of a late winter sky. The pure-white snow, blue, blue skies and exposed land features really shows off some beautiful contrasts.

Spring in Utah opens the entire state up for amazing photography with the exception of some higher elevation locations buried in unstable snow. This light season is brilliant and seems to illuminate every object with a wonderful glow as exhibited in the "Spring Glow Desert Plant" image.

Summer's light season for me is mostly reserved for macro photography. Unless there's a special unplanned condition that happens to pop up such as a dramatic sunrise or sunset, a spectacular full moon or a milky way painted night sky. During Summer's in Utah, I enjoy the high direct sunlight while taking pictures of wildflowers, birds and insects. This Summer has been extra hot and very smoky due to the wildfires burning throughout the western half of our beautiful country. I have not been out on a photo shoot in awhile but plan to get out there as soon as the heat wave breaks and the skies clear.

The amount of gratitude I feel to live in an area that is blessed with some of the most magnificent light and landscape, is overflowing. To be a landscape photographer in Utah is not only a dream come true, it is always a journey of discovery to me. If you would like to have any of my images or would like to be the first to view my latest work, please subscribe to my mailing list so I can send you the latest images.


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Aspen Gold

Spring Glow Desert Plant

Winter Canyon Sunlight

Uintah Winter

Showy Fleabane Pop

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