If you take photos of a place in your immediate neighbourhood, you can chose the perfect light for a certain subject.
If you find that the sun is in the “wrong” place you return lateron.
As travel photographers we rarely have this luxury. Timetables and travel arrangements often demand that we take our pictures under “available light” conditions, be it the strong midday sun, a rainy sky or a foggy day.
When staying at a place for a few days, we can go there several times and on the first time take a (mental) note of the surroundings.
Generally speaking, the magical light of early morning and late afternoon is usually best for landscapes and it is often advantageous to have the sun in your back.
On the other hand, in a big city, midday may bring out stark contrasts.
If it’s foggy or rainy, a filter may help, but even without one, the lack of contrast may actually be perfect for certain subjects (lonely woods, small lakes, a rotten tree, an abandoned house).
All in all, I’d recommend making best use of the time you have: getting up before sunrise is not exactly compatible with a relaxed holiday, but for me, those sunrises and early morning landscapes are an experience I wouldn’t like to miss!
Sunrise over the great salt lake, Tunisia. No Filter used.
Oh, and looking at the above examples, you will find that early morning and late evening are the perfect time for photographing reflections.
Especially water is more reflective when the sun is low.
Also, at this time, shadows are long - another very good photo opportunity!