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LIGHT

 

Photography is light. That is what the word means. So it is somewhat important to get right. It can make or break a photo - even with good content. 

 

Histogram


Histograms are a graphic representation of your photo - the distribution of pixels, or easier said, the tonal range. Learn to check your histogram. It's can be viewed on your LCD screen after taking a photo. Don't always trust your screen - especially when shooting in JPEG. 
A typical scene should have your histogram (black lines) spread evenly across the horizontal axis. If there is a lot of bright objects, or white objects, in the scene, then the black lines would probably gather towards the right-hand side. If there is a lot of black, or dark, in the scene, the lines will congregate towards the left. This is fine, so long as there are no long lines that get 'cut' off at the end of the screen/box. This means you are clipping your details - and rendering no detail. It means you will have white 'blowout' highlights (too bright an image) or dark 'no detail' shadows (too dark an image). You want to see the distribution line lower again before it gets to the end of the box/screen.

You can fix this clipping problem by altering your settings. Change your ISO, shutter speed, aperture or add/take away light. 

 

Colour of light


5000 kelvin is white light - it has a neutral colour tone.
Fluro - green/blue light
Incandescent - warmer light
Shade - cooler light
Midday sun - cooler in colour temperature. Near white light. 
Golden hour (magic hour) - 
A period (approx. 1hr) shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer than when the Sun is higher in the sky.

*using RAW, you can change colour temperature in editing
*get creative by changing your colour temperature

colour-temp-chart.jpg
photo-colour.jpg

 

The low, warm light produced early morning and later in the day is the softest and most pleasant of natural light. Portraits and landscapes love it. Shadows are long, textures accentuated in landscapes.
Low light fills in the ‘holes’ on faces and illuminates more evenly if you turn your subject into the light.

The colour of the light changes through the day also. Cool in the morning before sunrise, warming up at sunrise and early morning (on a nice day), neutral in the middle of the day, then warming up again as the sun goes down. If heavy cloud is blocking the sun, the light can be even cooler and take on a bluish cast. Shade can also have this effect on the colour of light - appearing more blue.

 

See the light


Once you know what you want to photograph, have laid it all out...


Look at how the light is falling on your subject.

Are there dark shadows?

Does it look flat?

The lighting in this photo is very flat. It would be a lot more dynamic if there were shafts of sunlight coming through clouds/low sun/stormy. 

The lighting in this photo is very flat. It would be a lot more dynamic if there were shafts of sunlight coming through clouds/low sun/stormy. 

Ok, so this is a bonfire image. Night. You wouldn't want this light and bright. All the black adds atmosphere and emotion. I can feel myself at that bonfire. Of course, if you are not going for 'dark and moody' you wouldn't want this much black shadow.

Ok, so this is a bonfire image. Night. You wouldn't want this light and bright. All the black adds atmosphere and emotion. I can feel myself at that bonfire. Of course, if you are not going for 'dark and moody' you wouldn't want this much black shadow.

This image is nice and bright but has a good mix of shadow and darker areas. The wood and slate complement the stark white. The food stands out against their backgrounds and there is some shadow. 

This image is nice and bright but has a good mix of shadow and darker areas. The wood and slate complement the stark white. The food stands out against their backgrounds and there is some shadow. 

 

 

 

Is there nice tone (shadow and highlight on your subject)? If you didn't get the right answer - fix it. 

 

Move your subject around and see how the light behaves. Play with it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The colour, quality and direction of natural light constantly change throughout the day. A cloud blocking the sun can make a significant difference to your light.

Midday light can be harsh, causing dark and deep shadows as the sun is overhead. Unless you want this effect, at this time of day try photographing in the shade of a tree, verandah or soft window light.

Notice the black eye area and contrast in skin.

Notice the black eye area and contrast in skin.

Shadows are falling directly under the horses. If this were a person, anything that overhangs another part of the body will have these dark shadows.

Shadows are falling directly under the horses. If this were a person, anything that overhangs another part of the body will have these dark shadows.

 

It can make landscapes look boring as well, as the shadows are dropping straight to the ground rather than stretched over the landscape, as they would early morning or late afternoon. 

Sunrise side light. Notice the shadows and drama.

Sunrise side light. Notice the shadows and drama.

Sunrise frontal light. Warm and inviting.

Sunrise frontal light. Warm and inviting.

Shade light from trees. A bit speckled but still nice. 

Shade light from trees. A bit speckled but still nice. 

Backlight with fill

Backlight with fill

Side shade light under a porch

Side shade light under a porch

Backlight

Backlight

 

 

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