Nature photographers and landscape artists need the patience of Job – and a reliable almanac. We really only have a couple of hours a day (if that much) when the light is just right — the hour around dawn and the hour around sunset. And that can reduce to a few moments if the right light is critical to your shot.
So, find out what those times will be for the date and place you’re in. The Weather Bug app on your Android phone will tell you (for today, at least) and you can easily extrapolate out for the next few days if you need to.
The rest of the time — go buy your wife a dress or something.
These two pairs of pictures illustrate the point.
Three minutes separated the first and second shot in each set. The light goes from flat to golden and textured in just those three minutes.
In the second set, you can actually read the clock on the church tower. 6:34 was the magic moment! 6:29 was too early.
Smart landscape and scenic photographers (even portrait photographers, too) know that their actual working window is very brief – and they’d better be ready to rock and roll when that magic moment is at hand.