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.
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.
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 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.
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.