Friday, October 12, 2012

This Little Light of Mine

I love the theme for this month.....Sunshine and Shadows. Perfect for us photographer types. We depend on the light. Without it, we cannot capture those beautiful images in our cameras. And the more we learn how to see it, the better we become at using it to our benefit. Even the word photography, which is derived from two Greek words, phōs and graphé, literally means drawing or writing with light. 

When you are out there painting with light, do you think about the color, the direction and the intensity of your light? I know when I first started my photography journey, I was intensely focused on subject and composition. But as I've become more comfortable with those things, I spend my time thinking about how I am using light in my photos. I often find myself captivated more by the light in a particular situation than by the actual subject, and I try to capture it in a way that does the light justice!

The color of light changes throughout the day. Light in the morning and evening is warmer. Light in the mid day is cooler. One of my favorite times of day to shoot is in the evening when the sun is lower in the sky. I love the warm tones it produces. The last hour of sunlight (as well as the first) is often referred to as the golden hour. you can even find the exact time for the golden hour of your location with this cool calculator!

Determining the direction of the light is also important when planning your image. The placement of your subject relative to the light - front, back or side, can produce dramatically different results. Take for instance, the photo I included above. The light was coming from a large window on the left. The feel and the final result of the photo would have been quite different if the light was coming from the front or back. No one direction of light is right or wrong. It all depends on how it is used and what you want to create! (And if you haven't checked it out yet, see Judy's great post about back lighting.)

And finally, light can be direct or diffuse. Direct light is intense, comes from one direction and produces shadows and high contrast. This is the kind of light you would find outside on a bright, sunny day. Diffuse light, on the other hand, comes from many directions, is much less intense and produces very few shadows and less contrast. This kind of light would be found in the shadow of a tree or under and overcast or cloudy sky. 

So the next time you pick up your camera, spend a few moments thinking about the color, direction and intensity of light around you and how you can use it to your advantage!

We love all the great photos in the flickr gallery! Keep up the amazing work!


Carol said...

This is a wonderful post, particularly following yesterday's look at light. There are so many things to consider as you take your shot--that's why photography is like meditation for me.
Your shot above is really stunning, and so, obviously, are you.

heyjudephotography said...

Fantastic photo to accompany your lesson on light -- I think the most important part of any photograph. Something that is usually considered plain, or even ugly, can be transformed by thinking about the light, just as you suggested. Thanks Stephanie, good job.

Dotti said...

That self-portrait is absolutely stunning, Stephanie!

Ahhhh, yes! The light. Indeed, where would we be without it. Like you, I was so "focused" on subject and composition, that light made a late entry into my growing understanding of the art of photography. When the shot is made, however, it's really all about light. As Judy said, something plain can be transformed.

And thanks for that handy golden hour chart; I've bookmarked it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post Stephanie. The shot of you is just gorgeous and a great illustration of your points. I think you describe a trajectory that is common to a lot of us -- when we start we think mostly about the subject, then perhaps composition and later in the game, the light. But a great subject without good composition or light often disappoints, while great composition and light can transform almost anything!

Justine said...

great lesson and fantastic shot!

terriporter said...

The light definitely takes center stage in this shot! Love how it accentuates the beautiful curve of your neck. Add me to the crowd who was late to discovering light but who is now having a love affair with it! Beautiful post, Stephanie -- thank you.

Kim Stevens said...

Yes, just a beautiful photo . . . but drats, that was my next post! Title too . . . haha Okay, back to the drawing board, again, not changing my next one so I hope no one else is doing the same thing! : )

Great post Stephanie!!

Deanna said...

Oh I do understand about the light and you are so right about becoming more aware of the light than the subject sometimes. I stopped the car yesterday after I spotted sunlight shining onto a group of trees that was just spectacular. I love your self portrait, the "lighting" is perfect for your soul satisfying image!!

Claudia@DipityRoad said...

You take such fantastic self portraits! The light is perfect. VERY strong.


kelly said...

i remember your beautiful self-portrait from the flickr gallery. such a stunning use of light to draw attention to the beautiful lines and curves of your neck and face. in the two years that i've been really practicing my photography skills, i find that now i pay attention to light in a whole new way. thanks for sharing this great info. kelly

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