silhouette photo of man singing on stage
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Day Two: “Mystery” — Manipulate Light

A photo can create a mood and communicate an idea that transcends its subject. At this performance at the Montreal Jazz Festival, there was a sense of anticipation, enhanced by dramatic lighting that revealed silhouettes on stage.

What were we about to watch and hear? It was a mystery:

Today, share an image that creates a sense of mystery. A lone mitten on a sidewalk. A trail that leads off into the distance. A creaky door that is left open. Intrigue us.

Today’s tip: Manipulate the light available to you to create a particular effect. Use it to create a shadow or highlights to create a certain mood. Work with natural light, or use artificial lighting.

The direction of light has a big impact on your photos. Things lit from the front have few shadows, and are evenly lit. When the light comes from the side, shadows and highlights are introduced, creating more texture and complexity. Lighting from behind throws things into sharp relief, silhouetting your subject. Wenjie Zhang explains different types of light in more detail — and shows great examples — in his post on the quality of light.

Photo by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.
Light filters through a window in an otherwise dark abandoned building. Photo by Cheri Lucas Rowlands.

Here are shooting ideas that take advantage of light during various times of the day:

  • Take your photo during the dramatic and often moody “Golden Hour”: the time just after sunrise or before sunset when natural light is soft and takes on color tones of its own. (Explore submissions to our Golden Hour photo challenge for inspiration.)
  • Illuminate your subject with a flashlight or candle .
  • Take a street shot, using car headlights or street lamps to light your scene.
  • Try a photo during the day when the bulk of the sun is hidden, revealing patches, shadows, or bursting rays of light.
Don’t miss tomorrow’s episode, when we talk about “scale”. Experimenting with size!

Have you seen the new Sony Camera? Click the photo above to learn more.

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