UNDERSTANDING PROPERTIES OF LIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHY

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UNDERSTANDING PROPERTIES OF 

LIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHY !

I LOVE THIS SUBJECT !  WHY?  BECAUSE IT IS THE BASIC PRINCIPLE OF PHOTOGRAPHY!  IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THE BASIC PRINCIPLE OF LIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHY, YOU CANNOT, AND WILL NOT EVER BE SUCCESSFUL IN PHOTOGRAPHY.  I LOOK AT THE REAL PROS IN PHOTOGRAPHY, THE WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHERS, THE SCENERY PHOTOGRAPHERS, AND THE PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHERS, AND I CAN TELL YOU NOW, THAT THEY HAVE, AT ONE TIME, STRUGGLED WITH GETTING THIS CONCEPT UNDERSTOOD.  ONCE THEY HAVE THAT FIGURED OUT, THE CAMERA IS JUST A TOOL FOR CREATING THE ART FORM FOR THEM.  

WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ART FORMS, IN SCULPTING, IT WOULD BE THE STONE, OR GLASS OR WOOD, THAT IS THE MAIN PROPERTY OF ART.  IN PAINTING, IT IS PROBABLY THE PAINT BRUSH, THE PAINT ITSELF, OR THE CANVAS IT IS PAINTED ON.  BUT FOR PHOTOGRAPHY IT CAN AND IS LIGHT.

 
SO MANY TIMES WHEN WE TAKE PHOTOS, THE NUMBER ONE THING WE MOST OFTEN THINK ABOUT IS EXPOSURE: 

BUT KEEP IN MIND, IF YOU UNDERSTAND THIS RIGHT:  THERE IS MUCH MORE TO LIGHT THAN JUST EXPOSURE.  Light has various properties that ultimately produce different effects. It is imperative that a photographer understand light so that he or she can take advantage of and control the light. In order to comprehend light, you must be familiar with its properties.
 
LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THOSE IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF LIGHT:
 
1- QUANTITY –
 
THIS OBVIOUSLY HAS REFERENCE TO THE INTENSITY OF LIGHT.  A LOT OF LIGHT HAS A BIG PART OF HOW YOUR PHOTO CAN TURN OUT.
 
2- QUALITY –
 
THIS HAS REFERENCE TO CONTRAST WITHIN THE LIGHT ITSELF.  IT STARTS TO CREATE A MOOD WITHIN THE LIGHT ITSELF.  IF YOU ARE DOING PORTRAITS, THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT FEATURE.

 

 

Photo by:  Raquel Salas Photography
 
 
3-  DIRECTION OF LIGHT – 
 
 DIRECTION OF WHERE THE LIGHT IS COMING FROM IN THE PHOTO CAN CREATE SOME OF THE MOST DRAMATIC PHOTOS CREATED.  THIS IS ESPECIALLY A BIG PLUS IN SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SCENERY SHOTS, AS WELL AS PORTRAITURE.
 
Photo by:  Pamela Locke
 
AND THEN WHEN YOU GET OUTSIDE, THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SUNLIGHT SITUATIONS TO WORK WITH.   LET’S GO OVER THOSE SO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH OUTSIDE:
 
A- DIRECT SUNLIGHT-
 
NOT USUALLY THE BEST OF LIGHTING.  IT IS VERY HARSH, HIGHLIGHTS ARE USUALLY NOT DETAILED, AND IT LACKS IN CONTRAST AND PLEASING COLORS.  THIS IS USUALLY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY WHEN THE SUN IS STRAIGHT OVERHEAD.  DOES THAT MEAN YOU CAN’T OR SHOULD NOT TAKE PICTURES THEN?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THIS IS THE ONLY TIME YOU CAN CAPTURE MEMORIES, AND EVENTS AND EVEN SCENERY THAT IS JUST UNIQUE BECAUSE OF THE HARSH LIGHT.  YOU BE THE JUDGE.
 
B- DIFFUSED SUNLIGHT –
 
THIS IS WHEN THERE IS VERY LITTLE SHADOWS OR NO SHADOWS AT ALL, BECAUSE THE SUN HAS GONE BEHIND THE CLOUDS.  IS THIS BAD?  OH NO!  I ACTUALLY LOVE TAKING PORTRAITS AT THIS TIME OUTSIDE.  THERE IS NOT A LOT OF SHADOWS, BUT, SOMETIMES I LIKE THAT.  TRY IT OUT:

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF NORMAL LIGHTING OUTSIDE, VS. THE DIFFUSED LIGHTING PHOTO ON THE RIGHT.  
 
C- FOG OR MIST:
 
Fog and mist greatly reduces details and shadows and creates an enveloping type of light. It produces weaker colors. Particular care must be taken since this type of light tends to produce flare.  But, in some cases, this creates a  mood that is very pleasing and in high demand if you capture it right:
Photo by:  Pamela Locke
 
UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENT CHARACTERISTICS OF LIGHT IS VALUABLE FOR YOU TO CREATE DIFFERENT TYPES OF MOODS, MORE PROFESSIONALISM IN YOUR PORTRAITS, AND TO CREATE THE EFFECTS THAT YOU REALLY WANT.  BY LEARNING ABOUT LIGHT, STUDYING IT CAREFULLY, YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY WORK WILL THEN BECOME ENDLESS IN WHAT YOU CAN CREATE.
 
 
 
 

 
ABOVE ARTICLE WRITTEN BY:  Lanny Cottrell for  123Photogo
123Photogo is a registered trademark.

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