2020 Photo Challenge #20

May’s theme / technique: It’s all about the Light

The six visual keys to a great photograph are:

    • Patterns
    • Texture
    • Lines
    • Light
    • Depth of field
    • Space

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:

    1. brightness of light
      this is fairly easy to understand; it is the intensity of light.
    2. lighting contrasts
      is the difference between highlights and shadows in a scene
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.

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 - Create one image using strong lighting which creates strong shadows and emphasises contrasts in tones and one image with much lighter tones. If you have post-processing software try experimenting with 'low key' and 'high key'effects.
    • The visual effect of deliberately shifting the key tone (the one which lies near the mid-point between the darkest and lightest tones) is not to make the image lighter or darker overall, but to signal a mood or feeling in the viewer.
    • The mood of low-key images becomes more sombre and metaphorically darker, with more drama implied.
    • High-key overcomes shadows and signals a style full of light and air. Look for subjects with a relatively small difference between the brightest and darkest parts.

(1) Flower manipulation – normal lighting

(2) High-key lighting – a softer more romantic feel

(3) Low-Key lighting – dramatic shadows on the petals, though I am not keen on the background here.

Looking at this tulip, I think what I should have done is find a better, more consistent background. I was thinking about doing that, but sometimes it is good to see something that almost works. Bringing the flower indoors and using a plain card for a background could work better. I might give that a try over the next week.

Your opinions are very welcome 🙂

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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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

28 thoughts on “2020 Photo Challenge #20”

    1. You have a lot of choices on your camera, what do you use? I like the darker ones like toy pop and toy effect which have light on the flower, not so much the low key.

      1. I don’t use many actually, as I can often regret it after and can play with the resulting images less easily. I tend to play around post-download. I use ‘expressive’ and ‘impressive’ sometimes. Panasonic Lumix, DMC TZ80

        1. I’m the same. If I want to change anything I’d rather do it with editing software, though occasionally I will use a camera effect.

  1. High-key and low-key are new terms for me. I rarely tweak the mid tones although I always used to under expose slightly before I started using the iPhone which tweaks everything down.

    You’ve exaggerated the images here to demonstrate what you mean. I think the original might benefit from being just a touch lower-key, if that’s the right way to say it. I don’t really like the high key example – you’re right that the dark corner detracts from that one – but I can see why you mean by it looking romantic.

    1. The background didn’t help with these photos which is why I have done another post without distractions. I deliberately didn’t do any editing to the original photo but I probably would have reduced the mid tone if I had been showing it on its own.

  2. Very often in a garden the backdrop is busy so you need to work with that. I kwite (blame Sue 🙂 ) like the original, and the dreamy one. Now I need to look at take 2 🙂

    1. Take two is very different, and take three (later in the week) different again. You can’t say I don’t take my own challenges seriously!

  3. I like the first one too, obviously having a traditional moment this morning . . . .and actually I didn’t notice the background intruding . . . . until you mentioned it and now of course the top right and bottom left corner are driving me crazy!!!

    1. A case of not focusing enough on the background, one of the basic rules of composition. I could have found a much better example, but I do like this tulip and I thought it is sometimes a good idea to see an image that almost works.

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