Why We Should Return to Places in Landscape Photography – Fstoppers

Landscape photography brings us to the most beautiful places all over the world and there are so many of them out there, that it is impossible to visit them all in one lifetime. There is no obvious reason to return to places we have visited already, but as a pro landscape photographer with more than 30 years of experience, I do it again and again, returning to places for photography.

In my latest video on YouTube I took you with me to revisit a place where I have photographed already some weeks before. But why did I go there again?

A Second Chance

Well, the most obvious reason to revisit a place for landscape photography is that you have failed last time for some reason. Maybe your images were out of focus, you decided on the wrong shutter speed and the moving elements didn’t convey that mood you had experienced when you have been there. Maybe your composition didn’t work and you want to rebuild it again or you simply bungled the timing for your exposure. Whatever the reason for your failure might have been, visiting the place again offers you the opportunity to do it better and to go home with a masterpiece.

But I didn’t fail on this occasion and I am even quite happy with the photographs I got out. So, why did I go there again?

The first time I hiked up that peak, I wanted to photograph a fantastic mountain scene at sunrise. The only thing I needed was a clear view of the mountains and down to the valleys. The weather services predicted clear skies, but I always check the weather maps in detail before I hike to my photo spots, as that allows me to find out possible alternative weather scenarios that are not given by common weather services.

Last time that led to a 40 percent chance for getting a clear sky and another 40 percent to get fog. Finally, I got fog, so it wasn’t possible to look farther than around 50 to 60 yards maybe. Vista photography wasn’t possible, but I took the opportunity to shoot woodland scenes instead. The fog added such a fantastic mystical mood to the landscape, I was blown away and I’m quite happy with the results from that day.

Different Light and Weather

I was sure that there was a fantastic vista shot just waiting for me up on that peak and I wanted to photograph it. It was not possible with fog, but what about changing the weather to how we would prefer it? This is not possible, right? It is.

Time is the key here. If you are not happy with the weather, just wait for a few hours or return when it is as you would prefer to have it. And this is exactly what I did in my latest video on YouTube. I hiked up that mountain again and this time I was absolutely sure to get a clear sky, although the humidity was at around 65 percent, which could already be enough for fog. But as the temperature was far above the dew point, I was sure to get a clear sky that day. I just had to determine that the sun would rise at a position where it would add to my potential composition.

Getting Familiar With the Spot

When we are totally new to a place, we are able to take photographs, but do we understand everything there? Where will the sun go up, where will it go down, how will the shadows fall, how will a different direction or quality of light transform the contrasts in my scene, how will the landscape be changed at a different time of the year?

Over the years I developed a sense for imagination though. But what I have learned is that the accuracy of the “imagination section“ in my brain gets much better, the more data I “feed” it. This simply means, the more I engage with a place, the more I have experienced the landscape already with different conditions, the better my sense of imagination seems to be. So, the more often I visit a place, the better I can imagine how it would turn with different weather and lighting situations.

Taking Advantage of the Diversity

Landscape photography requires visiting different places, but for me, it is not all about visiting only different spots. This was what travel photography is all about. Landscape photography is much more about observing, understanding, interpreting the landscape, and creating pieces of art, that I, and maybe also my clients, want to hang up on their walls. Revisiting a place offers me not only totally different possibilities for subjects and stories, but it also allows me to get become a better photographer, to learn more about the place, and even to improve my photography, when I took a masterpiece already.

In the above video, you can join me on an exciting landscape photography adventure in the Austrian Alps, where I revisit a beautiful place with my Sony a7r IV and where I give a lot of photography tips as well.