Landscape Lighting Photography Techniques


Landscape Lighting Photography Techniques

After enjoying the summer’s lazy days that seem to last forever, Nature is gradually reminding us of who is in charge.

Take this as a signal to grade your outdoor living spaces for the months ahead. Rather than accepting the way it is, perhaps this is the time to consider how you want to live your best life.

You remember admiring the patio lighting your close friend recently installed. Despite the heavy, almost foggy air, that outdoor entertainment space worked out perfectly during game night.

How do you decide if a change is necessary for your home? After all, you have landscape lighting that’s fully functional. However, something must be missing because it doesn’t have that wow factor.

Is the problem not enough light fixtures or the right type? That’s possible. Or it could be the wiring or transformer aren’t quite capable of getting the job done. Slow down and take a methodical approach before investing in unnecessary changes.

One of the best ways to refine a landscape lighting setup is by reviewing pictures under various environmental conditions using professional photography techniques. If something is not living up to your expectations in a photograph, then it may be time to pivot in a different landscape lighting direction.

Read on to learn more about landscape photography and how you can use it as a tool in your future outdoor living space projects.

Photography Equipment

While most iPhones come with photo-taking capabilities, few people know how to unlock their true potential as photography tools. From high dynamic range to photo bursting, portrait mode to shutter speed, framing to 3D touch, iPhones are an accessible option for most homeowners wishing to photograph their landscape lighting.

Another good option is using a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR), the benefits of which are huge. From image quality to light sensitivity, focus speeds to adaptable controls, changeable lenses to weather protection, DSLR cameras are a great fit for your landscape photography needs.

Regardless of which type of photography equipment you elect to use, consider using a tripod with your camera to obtain clearer images and to increase user control. Additionally, tripods enable you to set timers more effectively, which is ideal in low-light situations (i.e., outdoor living spaces at night!).

Environmental Conditions

Once you have the proper photography equipment, it’s time to consider environmental conditions. You want to learn what your landscaping lighting looks like under a variety of circumstances to better judge if a lighting remodel is in order. To do this, take pictures of your lighting fixtures in clear, foggy, wet, wintry, or moonlit settings.

  • Clear: What does your pergola lighting look like on a clear night, with no clouds to block the stars? Snap a picture to see.
  • Foggy: What do your pathway lights look like with a layer of fog hanging overhead? Get out your iPhone and take a photo.
  • Wet: What is the impact of rain droplets on your deck light fixtures? Fish out your DSLR and see for yourself.
  • Wintry: What does your garden lighting look like on a snowy day, with frost in the air? A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Moonlit: What does the man in the moon have to say about your lighting when he makes a full-moon appearance one fall night? Find out how moonlight can impact your lighting by taking a picture with it as a backdrop.

The more situations where you can photograph your landscape lighting, the better idea you will have of your lighting’s efficacy, which is paramount in determining if a change is imminent.

Lighting Techniques

You will also want to make sure that light fixtures are doing their aesthetic job, in addition to their functional one. Consider taking photographs of the following lighting techniques to ascertain just how impactful the effect is and if a subsequent adjustment is warranted.

  • Shadowing or Grazing: If you’ve placed a spotlight close to the ground, in front of a plant, fountain, or another form of custom stonework, you might have done so to cast a dynamic shadow on a tall wall behind or adjacent to the element. This dramatic effect is one of the reasons spotlighting is so effective, but if you capture a subpar shadow on film, then it might be time to re-think it.

Similarly, the grazing technique (i.e., lights placed close to a floor or ceiling) forms a narrow-angled light beam, which allows viewers to appreciate the unique textures of a home’s exterior. Generally, these lights are placed on a house’s exterior walls, brick walls, or stone pillars. If you have lights in these spots, capture it on camera to make sure it’s giving you the desired grazing effect.

  • Moonlighting or Downlighting/Uplighting: Placing lights high up in trees to mimic the soft white light of the moon shining down is a popular lighting technique in large spaces with several trees. It improves the visibility of your property while enhancing its inherent beauty. On a similar, smaller scale, downlighting and uplighting each offers focused space illumination for particular areas. If, after snapping a photo, you find the downlighting, uplighting, or moonlighting techniques to be unsatisfactory in either their lighting scope or charm, then it’s time for a plan B.
  • Accent Lighting: From porches to pool, decks to patios, accent lighting helps illuminate frequented areas with soft, warm hues for all to enjoy. With a multitude of shapes and sizes to these lighting fixtures, homeowners can customize their lighting landscape to match the aesthetic of their home. If, after snapping a photograph, you find your accent lighting does not mesh as well you would have hoped, it might be time to swap them out.

Photography Techniques

Landscape Lighting Techniques Used By The Pros
The final piece to this landscaping photography puzzle is understanding the different photography techniques at your disposal, so you can take the best photographs of your lighting landscape.

  • Day to Night: The best way to see the impact your lighting has on your outdoor living space is to take pictures of it during the day and then pictures of it during the night. This day-to-night photography can create stunning contrasts, which can be extremely helpful in determining the effectiveness of your current lighting system. Feel free to vary the angles to get different impressions of the same spot — just make sure you don’t vary the location.
  • Light to Dark: The color of the sky can be an important photography tool if used correctly. The darkness of a dusk sky and the lightness of a dawn sky will enable you to see the different levels of illumination your lighting currently provides. If you find it to be lacking in certain sky backdrops, it might be time for a change.
  • Wet to Dry: Rain, rain, go away, come back again some other day. Well, actually, photographing your lighting in the rain is a great way to see how your lighting underscores the vibrancy of your landscape, so stick around rain! A wet environment can naturally enhance the colors of your outdoor living space with additional crispness and clarity. It’s the perfect time to snap a picture of your lighting. If the lighting doesn’t showcase that extra color, then it’s time for a swap out. And, if you have photos of the same location, only dry, you can compare apples to apples and make a judgment call if the lighting really does pick up those nuanced wet/dry differences.

Architectural Landscape Design: We Can Help You Light Up the Night 

If you’ve done your photography due diligence and have determined that, based on your collection of landscaping pictures, it’s time to move on from your current landscape lighting, then we can help you make the right call for your new needs. Contact us today so that we can light the way forward to a brighter outdoor living space — one that will tempt others to take out their cameras and snap a pic or two or three.