Photographer Sean Arbabi says half the battle is getting to the right spot ahead of the light. Put yourself in position, then be patient and persistent: Wait for the right moment and the best light.
Light is most dramatic and most forgiving in the hour after dawn and from an hour before to an hour after sunset. Those are the magic hours for photographers.
Use the "four corners" rule: Place your subject in any of the four corners instead of dead center to keep the image from looking flat. Or use the rule of thirds: Compose your shot with a foreground, middle ground, and background, which will lead the viewer's eye through the scene.
Go low to get into the world of your subject (try lying on your belly) to capture its essence.
Keep shooting until reading the light becomes second nature. When the perfect conditions occur, you'll be able to respond quickly.