Choosing the Best Time to do Certain Activities
Sometimes my friends see a photo I post on social media and are encouraged to go and visit that location themselves. And it isn’t uncommon for them to ask me later, “why didn’t it look like your photo?”.
I’d like to think I adopt a bit of a ‘no edit’ editing style with my photography, so it isn’t editing tricks that make them say this.
Instead, it simply comes down to timing when you do certain activities, or visit particular locations, to ensure you see them at their best.
Whether it be the time of day (such as aiming for ‘golden hour’ in the morning or afternoon), the time of year (such as picking the right season when wildflowers are blooming) or waiting for a certain event to occur (such as recent rain to get waterfalls flowing), a few simple tips will go a long way to seeing a location at its best.
Now, this isn’t to say that these locations aren’t beautiful at any time – they are. Just that they are arguably even more beautiful at certain times.
And if you are a keen hobbyist photographer like myself, these tips are particularly important.
Rainforests and waterfalls
The hint here is not so subtly hidden in their names. Obviously, the best time to visit the ‘rain’forest and see ‘water’falls, is after recent rain.
While its important to check a location isn’t flooded, there is no arguing that rain brings the rainforest to life. The vibrant greens burst to life under a shiny lacquer of moisture, birds and other animals seem to forage even more once the rain has subsided.
What's more, the awe-inspiring power of nature is on full display when standing at the base of a waterfall that is flowing at full capacity.
I also typically try and visit rainforests on overcast days, or if the sun is forecast to shine, make sure that I am on the track at first light. This tip is mainly for photographers, with the clouds acting as a natural light diffuser.
While there is no doubting that sunshine rays through the forest are stunning, once the sun is high in the sky, there can be difficulties controlling contrast, particularly when the sun is shining directly on the face of a waterfall.
Starting a rainforest track early in the morning is also a great tip for animal lovers, with birds and marsupials more active at this time of day, meaning a greater chance of sightings.
Mountains and lookouts
When it comes to mountains and lookouts, things are pretty straightforward. The goal here is almost always to enjoy stunning panoramic views. Therefore, it makes sense to climb mountains or visit lookouts on clear days, with either no clouds, or light and wispy clouds.
Of course, this isn’t a blanket rule, and sometimes the moodiness of a stormy sky or foggy conditions are amazing in their own right. However, when the views offered are expansive and require good visibility, clear skies or light clouds will offer better conditions.
Golden hour, the hour or so after sunrise and before sunset, is also a perfect time to be situated on top of a mountain or at a lookout. The light is always most incredible at this time of day, with shadows and colours at their best.
If you do visit a location for sunset though, be sure to consider how you safely get back to your starting point if it gets dark (e.g., head lamps).
For larger mountains, the time of year is also important. Summer in Australia, and Queensland in particular, is not the most inviting time to scale a larger mountain due to exposure to the sun and heat, as well as the timing of sunrise and sunset.
Instead, consider spring, autumn and winter as the peak times for hiking up mountains, where sunrise isn’t excruciatingly early, and the temperature is far more forgiving.
When it comes to kayaking, wind conditions are key. Low winds are desired, given that a strong headwind can make a day of paddling feel so much longer than it is.
While some creeks and rivers can offer good protection from the wind, they are rarely immune to its effects. Open water kayaking is particularly prone to the impact of winds.
Similar to mountains and lookouts, kayaking is best done on clear days, with either no clouds, or light and wispy clouds.
One of the most beautiful scenes when kayaking is the reflections on the water. These are at their best when there are blue skies and low winds, producing that glassy, mirror-like finish on the water.
Golden hour is again, the perfect time to be paddling. This light creates the most beautiful reflections and makes the colours of the vegetation on the edge of the river or creek burst to life (especially mangroves).
If you do paddle at sunset though, be sure to consider how you safely get back to your starting point if it gets dark (e.g., head lamps).
Exposure to the sun is often high when kayaking, so consider paddling in the early morning or late afternoon in warmer months (e.g., summer).
Winter, albeit bitterly cold at times, can be a beautiful time to kayak, with fog dancing on top of the surface of the water a sight for sore eyes.
Finally, always consider the impact of tides on creeks, rivers and bays. Generally, paddling 2-3 hours either side of the high tide is recommended. This means paddling upstream as the tide pushes towards the high point and turning around and returning as the tide begins to recede.
This not only minimises the chance of bottoming out, but also the flow of the tide (which will pull you along) makes for an easier and more pleasant paddle.
Casual foreshore walks
There are a plethora of casual foreshore walks around south-east Queensland, and I would dare to argue that they are one of the most underrated outdoor activities.
For those of us who pine for the weekend and our next opportunity to get outdoors, these walks represent a way to get out during the work week and scratch that itch a little bit.
I recommend exploring your local area for these sorts of walks for a mid-week afternoon activity. Nonetheless, they also make for a relaxing morning or afternoon on the weekend and can be perfectly paired with a picnic.
In that sense, golden hour is again the perfect time to be doing this activity, with the light making everything that much more beautiful.
This is particularly true for oceanside walks, with the reflections and light of the morning or afternoon sun on the sea being absolutely beautiful.
Clear skies or light and wispy clouds will also add to the experience but revisiting these local locations under different weather and tide conditions means they can be revisited again and again.