May’s theme / technique: It’s all about the Light
The six visual keys to a great photograph are:
- Depth of field
Being Creative with light. Photography literally means writing with light which immediately tells you how important lighting is. And with light comes shadows. Another important feature. An appreciation of light is crucial to making great photographs.
The qualities of light that affect a photograph are:
- brightness of light
this is fairly easy to understand; it is the intensity of light.
- lighting contrasts
is the difference between highlights and shadows in a scene
- specular light
or hard light can be explained by thinking how sunlight strikes an object on a bright and clear day. One side will be lit up, the other in dark shadow.
- diffused light
on the other hand when it is an overcast day the sun lights the clouds and they become the source of light. Light wraps itself around the subject and reflects light into the shadows. The light is soft or diffused.
- direction of light
creating depth in photographs relies on knowing the source of the light. Front light comes from behind the camera and strikes the front of the scene, usually producing a 2-dimensional image. Use bold colours or a strong colour contrast to replace the lack of shadows. Sidelight is most apparent when the sun is low and shadows are long separating foreground from the background and giving a 3-dimensional look. Backlight comes from behind the subject and can create depth and shape. If a subject is transparent then backlighting is a way to make them glow.
- colour of light
Sometimes you can actually see the colour of light. The so-called ‘magic hours‘ before sunrise or after sunset can produce coloured air which can be pink or orange or golden. Everything seems to change colour. There is also the question of white balance (WB). A setting on your camera that makes things that are supposed to be white really look white. This setting can be changed either in the camera, or if you shoot in RAW, in processing.
- brightness of light
As I have previously said, I am not an expert in the technicalities of photography. I tend to use auto settings most of the time. I have altered the white balance occasionally when it has been cloudy or when photographing snow, to prevent that blueness you often get. But by all means experiment to see what difference the presets in your camera make.
This week's assignment - Study light throughout the day from one location / or one object returning to see how light changes and affects it. Compile 6 shots. Which is your favourite?
There was only one subject for this assignment given we are still in lockdown and cannot go far from home. It has to be Alice, the iconic engine house at the bottom of the hill, tucked comfortably into the corner of the field and clothed in dark green ivy. Importantly it can be seen from my window. I also viewed previous images that have been taken at different times of the day and indeed times of the year for comparison.
(1) 06:00 with a pink cast just before sunrise. Although the colour of the sky is interesting the lack of sunlight makes this image appear flat.
(2) 07:00 not long after sunrise and bathed in light from the east. Some shadows in the foreground. I rather like the light on the building in this shot.
(3) 12:55 Midday. The sun is to the south now and Alice is under cloud cover, though the top of Trink hill is in sunlight. Here the sheep add interest.
(4) 13:45 Here Alice is in full sun and under a cloudless sky taken on Thursday. The greens are looking lush after recent rain and I think this could be my favourite.
(5) 17:20 this is Alice from the lane using a zoom lens. Taken earlier in the week on a fairly overcast day with the promise of rain. I wanted to emphasise the textures – the rough stones and the cloak of greenery. One day the building will completely disappear.
(6) 20:40 This image is from the archives, taken in mid summer when the sun is much further to the west (right). Although Alice isn’t in sunlight, the hills behind are and the evening shadows are long.
My overall conclusion is that Alice looks best when the sunlight is falling on her or at least on the fields in the background, Shadows caused by clouds moving across the sky (a regular event) work better when on the fields and not the structure. Early morning brings a different, clearer light and on some occasions a pink cast, but there needs to be light somewhere in the scene to prevent the image from being too flat. I have restricted my photos to pretty much the same angle for this assignment to compare how the light moves around throughout the day.
And here are two more images of Alice that I rather like even though Alice is in shadow. Of course choosing the direction of the light is only one element to creating a good photograph, the basic elements of composition also need to be followed. Here Alice has been positioned on the right of the vertical rules of thirds, the dairy farm track is horizontal and the foreground shrubs catch the light, whilst the engine house is much more shadowy.
And this photo has been taken from the lane in late evening when the cow parsley is in full flower, shooting more or less into the sun which is on the right. Alice is just a shadow in this image, the objective was to capture the late evening light on the flowers.
Which is your favourite?
If you would like to join in with the 2020 photo challenge then please take a look at my 2020 Photo Challenge page. No complicated rules, just a camera required 🙂
- Create your own post with some information about how you composed the shot.
- Include a link to this page in your post so others can find it too
- Add the tag #2020PhotoChallenge so everyone can find your entry easily in the WP Reader
- Get your post(s) in by the end of the month, as the new theme comes out on the first Sunday in June.
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