“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” Alfred Stieglitz
This week, our #goodchallenge will deal with one of the most intricate and fundamental (yet often overlooked in our digital age) factors of photography: light.
Anyone who has experienced mood swings between sunny and cloudy days knows how light influences our perception and emotions. In photography, light is the thread that entwines all elements of an image – from tone to depth of field and atmosphere – and, consequently, the way the viewer feels the image.
By Matt Davey
Whether using artificial light or the sun as a source, the direction and intensity of light will play a huge role in shaping a picture’s mood. Direction-wise, side-lighting (as used by Rembrandt) is the most versatile setup. It casts hard shadows and emphasises texture and form, which is particularly useful for rendering a dramatic look to a mountain, for example.
Hard light (from small/concentrated sources, such as the sun on a clear day) produce darker, sharper shadows and intensify highlights, thus enhancing depth and drama. Meanwhile, soft light (from large/diffused sources such as the sun on an overcast day) results in blander images with less contrast and softer shadows, transmitting a sense of tranquillity.
There are several ways you can optimise the use of light in your photography:
· Shooting at “golden hour” (just before and after sunset/sunrise) offers both hard and soft light, thus widening the range of possibilities for manipulating the light.
· Night-time, long-exposure shots with moving light sources (e.g. passing cars or stars) against a still background/foreground adds motion to the image.
By Tania Mackie
· Lens filters can be an effective way of manipulating outdoor light, especially if you can’t come back to the scene on a day when the weather plays ball.
· Colour temperature is the most evocative attribute of light. It can be adjusted in the camera’s white balance setting (the higher the value, the bluer/cooler the light, and vice versa) to create a particular mood.
Studying light motivates you to get outdoors, photograph at different times of the day, and look at your subjects more deeply, thus improving the sensitivity in your photographs.
There are countless ways to make the most of the light when photographing. Share your photographs and if you know of any tricks or techniques, make sure to leave a comment when adding your photo. Click Submit -> Challenges in the menu above and see if your entry makes it to the Editor's Choice next week!