Sunday, January 12, 2014

There's Bad and Good Light?

I'm preparing to teach a basic photography class.  This is a first for me and I'm trying to put some effort into preparing.   In the very first class I'm going to touch on light and how there can be good light and bad. 

Light in itself is not good or bad and it can not create a good photograph, but depending on the characteristics of the light it can make our photographs better or worse.   I've gone through my photo library and have picked out a few photos to show how light can change a photo.   Here's one example I came up with.

Both shots are the same creek taken from the same spot using all the same equipment.  The difference is the time of day and the direction of the sunlight.

Morning Shot
The morning was a bright sunny day and that sun was shining down on the little cascade.  The bright clear sunlight made the scene very contrasty.  The brights were too bright and blown out (no details in the brightest parts).  I could have compensated for that bright light by turning down my exposure but then the shadows would be dark and there would be little details to be seen there either.   Typically I'll walk right by a scene like this but that little cascade was just too pretty to pass up.  I was hoping I could do something with it in post-processing.

Afternoon Shot
Lucky for me we came back by this same spot in the late afternoon and the light conditions had changed dramatically.  Now there was only soft indirect light illuminating the scene.  No harsh , shadows to deal with.  The soft light also created less glare on the water, rocks and foliage. 

One reason I'm talking about light in the very first class is it is the single most important part to photography.   When shooting landscapes and nature you have to take the light God gives you and either work with it or pass.  There is no amount of camera gear or post-processing editing that would make the first shot look like the second. 

Understanding light is foundational.   Everything else is secondary.

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