Heather Season Is Here, This Is How to Photograph It

The late summer moors, hills, and mountain areas are turning purple with blooming heather; Now is time to photograph it.

As of writing this article, it is mid-August and the Danish heathland, moorland, and hills, turn purple. Well, not all of them, but those that contain heather do. Heather is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade. Besides the above-mentioned locations to find heather, it can also be found in acidic oak and pine woodlands.

Long story short, photographing heather is not any different from “regular” landscape photography, you just have heather in the scene too, which adds a lovely purple element to your scene.

Focal Point

A few weeks ago, I made an article about how to get amazing photos in “boring” landscapes. Two of the tips were to benefit from the seasonal changes and heather season is exactly something you can benefit from in your landscape photography. The other tip was to find yourself a focal point. Although heather is part of your scene and can work as the focal point, I personally prefer to incorporate it in my photos along with a stronger focal point, making the heather a “part” of something more. A focal point can simply be a lone tree, some sunbeams through the canopy, a house, or some cliffs. In the above photo, I use the lone tree as a simple, yet effective focal point.

Other Elements

You can of course also incorporate other elements into your scene. Fallen trunks, trails, staircases, and patterns of other kinds of vegetation can work greatly as leading lines or elements. As heather is usually protected throughout Europe, you can find it in national parks or other protected locations such as the EU “Natura 2000” areas. These areas usually have walking paths, trails, and often staircases if you are in an area with hills. In the below photo I used the staircase to lead the eye through the heather towards the lone tree on the top of the hill.

Weather Conditions

Weather conditions of course also play a significant role in the visual perception of you heather photograph. If you photograph in the blue hour, you can create a beautiful transition from the blue hues to the purple hues of the heather. As blue and purple are close to each other on the color wheel, this ought to create a calm photo. Add some morning fog or mist above the heathland and you are in for a treat. As soon as the sun rises and casts its orange light into the scene, you can create a beautiful scene with complimentary colors.

I will also recommend photographing the heather during the morning as the heather will likely be wet from the morning mist. I personally prefer wet, dewy heather to dry heather. You can also photograph it during the day after a shower with storm clouds in the background for a contrasting photo between the dramatic sky and the soft purple heather.

Settings

In the video above, I share my settings and approach to photograph the heather on a beautiful foggy morning. The settings are the same as in “regular” landscape photography. I personally prefer aperture priority and usually an aperture between f/8 and f/16 to get everything in focus. If it is windy, you might have to increase the ISO above ISO 100 to get a faster shutter speed, making sure the heather does not blur when it waves in the wind.

Check out the video above for even more inspiration and let me hear whether you are planning to photograph heather this season.

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14 Comments

Ben Lockett's picture

The staircase shot is beautiful! I love the patterns and the variety of colours you can see from a drone too, particularly towards sunset where the sun is lighting some, but not all of the flowers

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Thanks a lot, Ben! That is also a beautiful photo :)

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen's picture

Beautiful article and to the point 👌🏻

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Thanks as always, Hans! You have heather to photograph in Norway?

Aritz Atela's picture

Instructional and inspiring. Great article Mads.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Thanks, Aritz. How's it in spain? Do you have any heather?

Aritz Atela's picture

I guess, tree diversity is huge here in the north coast. Nearby we’ve got more beeches.

Tor-Ivar Næss's picture

I have read many articles on Hearher over the years. This might very well be the best one!

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Haha! One, two, many 😅

Kai Hornung's picture

Heather is special. Need to go to the amazing large areas in the federal state I live in.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

You really do! There are quite a few beautiful ones in northern Germany I've learned :)

Kandid Letters's picture

Hi Mads,

between Hamburg and Hanover in Germany there are large areas of heather. These two pictures I took within the small federal state of Hamburg. They are meant to be other examples of how special the short period of just two weeks in the year are when the heather is in full bloom. Most people think that Hamburg is just a large city but in fact it has landscape with hills and forests and heather as well.

Thanks for your article.

Kandid

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

That's absolutely gorgeous! I think I have seen photos from there before or some other park close by :)

David Russell's picture

How to photograph heather? Live in Scotland!