Thursday, February 26, 2015

Feel The Light

by Judy

"In almost every photo, it's the quality of light that makes or breaks the shot."
Michael Freeman/Capturing Light - The Heart of Photography

We photographers often talk about 'chasing the light' or 'searching for the right light.' Light is the key to giving our photos a particular mood, or feeling.

 Light, at different times of the day, has different colors to it. This is referred to as the color temperature. The temperature of light is measured in Kelvin, with different times of the day having a higher Kelvin reading, and other times a much lower Kelvin reading. Strangely, the lower the Kelvin reading, the warmer our photos appear, and the higher the Kelvin reading, the cooler our photos appear.  (This was never my favorite topic to study in photography school, but if you want to know more about the specifics there are plenty of articles online to peruse).  It is the color temperature of our photos that give our images a cool look, or a more warm and cozy look.  

The warm glow of a sunrise or a sunset are because the color temperature is cooler. ( I know, it seems wrong, but yes, it is true).  

The photo above was taken in the midday sun.  Although this is not ideal lighting for most photos, I don't put my camera away.  It is true that harsh sunlight can wash photos out and create deep shadows. (obviously this is not the lighting that you want to use for that family portrait you've been hired to shoot), but if you keep an open mind, and your eyes open,  you will find lots of interesting shots in harsh sunlight.  The sharp contrast between light and dark on this barn door drew me in. Not only did the midday sun create a dramatic contrast, it also brought out the shape and textures present on the barn door.  

Many things drew me to this subject, above, but the first thing I noticed was the strong contrast that the shadow created.  I believe I would have walked right by this if the strong shadowing hadn't been present.  For these photos, the harsh midday sun gave them a more dramatic feel than other lighting could have. 

The strange thing about the midday sun is that the color temperature is in the middle zone.  It's not too cool, and it's not too warm.  You can obviously tell that the sun is shining in both of the photos above, but there isn't any particular warm and cozy feeling to either of them. 

Ahhh, look at the coolness to this photo.  This 'cool' feeling of the blue hour is because the Kelvin reading is higher than at other times of the day. The blue hour is the time of day just before sunrise, or just after sunset, when the sun is low on the horizon.  You can't beat the soft, blue glow at these times of the day, and if you want your photo to convey a feeling of coolness to it, then this is the perfect time of day to shoot. 

Now to my absolute favorite time of day for photography - the golden hour.  The golden hour is late in the day, just before sunset, or early in the morning, right after sunrise.  The light has a beautiful golden glow to it.  This golden glow is due to the fact that the color temperature is low, and it's the lower color temperature that makes us feel the warmth in this photo.

All this talk about temperature has me remembering that the temperature outside my door is very low - actually downright frigid lately.  I think I'll stop talking about Kelvin readings and color temperature and just leave all of you with some photos that feel warm, and golden, and maybe downright cozy.

Stay warm my friends - Spring is just around the corner!


Dotti said...

Even before I got to your 'punch line' at the end, I began thinking how these beautiful photos gave me the assurance that winter will pass and spring will follow and once more I'll be able to take my camera outdoors to shoot. That's when my camera is happiest. And when my camera is happy, I'm happy.

kelly said...

oh judy! I'm a golden hour junkie and your gorgeous, magical photos have me dreaming of spring...we too are experiencing frigid temps and expecting our next round of winter weather. :)

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