Friday, June 22, 2012

camera button friday - seeing light

At our last Photo Group, I talked a little bit about light, but we spent most of our time walking around and photographed in good light.  The main points of my ramblings can be found here, but you really need to get out and play with light to really understand it.  That is what I tried to do in this workshop. For example here: different angles of light on the same subject.  Why and how does it look different?

You can search all over the internet for it and everyone is in agreement that the 'golden hour' is the best to shoot in, and it is not just because it looks golden.  It has everything to do with direction.  There are no harsh shadows underneath the subject, making it look like a black hole of shadows.  (Just a heads up, the 'golden hour' is not really an hour, it is the 30 minutes or so before sunset, or after sunrise.)

Another benefit to the direction, is how it renders shapes that are normally flat looking, like here, where the light was creeping over these hills.  At another time of day, the entire field would be lit, creating less drama on the landscape and not accentuation the rolling hills.

I also talked about how clouds effect your subject.  If you are in full sun (nothing between the sun and your subject) you have to watch out for floating clouds.  If they pass in front of the sun right as you take your photo, it will change how the object looks.  This is obvious, but not to many people are aware enough to think about it.  Similarly, on a cloudy day, you have to watch out for including the sky in your shots, it will often lead to white, unattractive sky's.

As I walked around, I started to play with shafts of light.  Below are two photos in one to show how I found the light; the top image of the entire scene, the bottom is the photo I was going for; just the shaft of light.

I started to realize that I really like the drama that these shafts of light create.  If I expose for the highlights, I know the shadows will go black, creating great contrast and therefore drama.


I started also playing with backlight more.  I have become a fan of it (if you havn't noticed) and really wanted to experiment more and see how far I could push it.

All of these examples here are of one evening, in one setting.  There are a lot of ways to see light in many different scenes, and different conditions.  So, the main point is that you have to go and practice.  This is mostly because you have to train yourself to see light the way your camera does.  Observe the light, and wonder how to create an image with what is in front of you.  Sometimes this means intentionally going out to find great light at the right time, and place something interesting in front of your camera.  But you have to see the difference between what your eye sees and what your camera sees, so that when you see something you can know if it will be worth taking the time to pursue

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