PART 3- UNDERSTANDING LIGHT : YOUR KEY TO BECOMING A GOOD PHOTOGRAPHER

UNDERSTAND HOW LIGHT WORKS, AND THEN YOU CAN UNDERSTAND HOW PHOTOGRAPHY WORKS.

THERE ARE MANY TYPES OF ART THAT RELIES ON A CERTAIN MEDIUM TO MAKE IT’S MARK IN THAT ART FORM.  FOR EXAMPLE, IN SCULPTING, MARBLE OR CLAY OR STONE IS THE IMPORTANT PART THAT IS THE MEDIUM FOR SCULPTING.  FOR THE PAINTER, IT IS OIL OR WATER.  BUT FOR PHOTOGRAPHY IT IS “LIGHT”.  THE BASIS OF ALL PHOTOGRAPHY IS LIGHT.  BUT WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT LIGHT IN PHOTOGRAPHY AND DO WE REALLY UNDERSTAND IT?  DO WE UNDERSTAND IT ENOUGH TO BE ABLE TO CREATE ART WITH LIGHT?  WELL THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO GO OVER IN THIS ARTICLE TODAY.

UNDERSTANDING “LIGHT” IN PHOTOGRAPHY !

UNFORTUNATELY, IN TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPHIC WORLD, IT SEEMS LIKE THE ONLY THING PEOPLE WORRY ABOUT IS THE EXPOSURE.  THAT IS THE EXTENT OF THE KNOWLEDGE THEY THINK THEY NEED TO KNOW IN THE TERMS OF “LIGHT”.  AND TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, THAT IS AN IMPORTANT FACTOR.  WE DO NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH LIGHT REACHES THE SENSOR IN THE CAMERA TO GET THE BEST PICTURE.  BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE WE COULD DO IF WE JUST LEARNED MORE ABOUT LIGHT.  AND THAT IS MY GOAL IN THIS ARTICLE TODAY.

I THINK THERE ARE 3 THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT IN UNDERSTANDING LIGHT:

  1. QUANTITY OF LIGHT:   That would mean that we are looking at the intensity of light on the subject.  The amount of light and the extent of light will determine the “attitude” of the art piece.
  2. QUALITY OF LIGHT:  This is a very important part of the masterpiece you wish to create.  Here you worry about the contrast, the proper color of light even comes in to play (and that can become a whole other subject).  This is where you get concerned when portraits play a big part.  Check out the portrait photographer.  His lights are a major key, and quality of his light is of utmost importance. 
  3. DIRECTION OF LIGHT:  This works in portrait photography as well as a good landscape photo.  In portrait work, you can learn about the types of lighting on faces and which is best, and the proper placement of the lights is so important.  In landscape photography, you can bet that the majority of good landscape photos are taken when the light is in the early morning or before sunset when the lighting is most extreme.  

NOW OF COURSE, I WILL BE THE FIRST TO BRING OUT THAT RULES CAN BE BROKEN IN THIS AS WELL AS THE COMPOSITION RULES…. BUT ONLY IF IT LOOKS BETTER.  THAT IS HOW YOU DETERMINE IF THE RULES SHOULD BE BROKEN:  IF IT LOOKS BETTER.  SO YOU CAN TAKE PHOTOS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY WHEN THE LIGHTING IS USUALLY NOT GOOD, IF IT WILL LOOK GOOD.

NOW LET’S TAKE A LOOK AT ONE MORE THING THAT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND AND THAT IS HOW TO SHOOT WITH NATURAL LIGHT.  THERE ARE SEVERAL DIFFERNT TYPES OF NATURAL LIGHT TO WORK WITH.  ALL WILL BE AN ARTISTS TOOL IF YOU UNDERSTAND WHEN AND HOW TO WORK WITH THEM:

  1. DIRECT SUNLIGHT:  This is when you have direct sunlight, shadows are very prominent, contrast is very harsh, but that might be the effect you want.  Before you go out to shoot, is that the effect you want? 

Notice in this photo that in this landscape photo, with direct sun, that the shadows are very pronounced, the photo has a very contrasty feeling…. but, this is what the artist wanted.  Learn to understand what direct light will do for you.

2-  DIFFUSED SUNLIGHT:  I actually like taking photos with diffused sunlight, but, maybe not full scenery shots.  Portraits are great with diffused sunlight, because there are no shadows or hardly any shadows.  Usually in this scenario, the sun has gone behind clouds. 

(Photo by:  rockynook.com)

Notice that shooting portraits outside while you have diffused lighting, or the sun behind the clouds gives a very nice soft light on the subject.  The shadows are gone or nearly gone giving it a very pleasant feel to the portrait.  The only thing now you have to do is perfect your posing. 

( Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

Now, like I was mentioning above, usually you don’t use diffused lighting too much with scenery, but, it can be done.  But, you don’t see it too much where it is a vast amount of landscape.  Usually contained to a smaller area.  But, I have seen some good full landscape photos that the rules were broken.  I like this one.  No shadows, and all the colors look really good.

 

3- FOG:  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 there is something really touching about fog.  Everyone likes the effect that fog has in a picture.  It creates some kind of romantic feeling…OR   horror effect.  Depending on the picture.  A photographer friend of mine, lives in an area, where fog rolls in every morning, and she lives to capture the fog photos every morning, and captures the most beautiful photos I have ever seen.

Photo by Pamela Locke

Here Pamela is known as “The Fog Chaser”.  But the photos with the sunrise in the picture make the colors even more pronounced and yet create a mood in the photo.  I would think  that this type of photo would be hung on a lot of walls.

Next time you start taking photos, do more than just look at your exposure meter.  Look at the type of lighting you have.  Can you take advantage of the type of lighting you have.  When you go out on a photo shoot, whether it is landscape photography or portrait photography, think about the type of lighting you have today.  You will become a true artist if you understand the lighting you have to work with today.

Article written by:  Lanny Cottrell

For  123Photogo

 

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PART 2: LEARNING TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER / JUST BOUGHT A CAMERA, NOW WHAT?

5 THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN BEFORE I STARTED PHOTOGRAPHY:

LAST WEEK, I DID A BLOG ON “HOW TO START YOUR PHOTO CAREER FROM THE BEGINNING”  SEE:  123photogo.com/2018/01/02/photographers-2018-lets-start-from-the-beginning/   I TALKED ABOUT HOW TO CHOOSE A CAMERA (DSLR) AND HOW TO NOT LISTEN TO ALL THE OTHER FRIENDS AND RELATIVES OUT THERE AND HOW TO NOT GET TRAPPED BY THE SALESPEOPLE IN THE STORE, AND LEARN HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT CAMERA FOR YOU.  

NOW THERE ARE 5 THINGS I WANT TO COVER SO THAT YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER JOURNEY.   THIS IS SOME THINGS I THINK WILL HELP YOU BECOME THE PHOTOGRAPHER YOU REALLY WANT TO BE.  LET’S GO THROUGH THESE THINGS ONE THING AT A TIME SO YOU WILL FEEL COMFORTABLE.  AND THEN TOMORROW, WE WILL GO THROUGH YOUR CAMERA CONTROLS IN A BASIC FUNCTION. 

1- Do your own research on the cameras and systems and brands that are out there.

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Why are there so many brands of cameras?  Is one any better than another?  My neighbor says that I should buy a Canon or Nikon.  Is that better than a Pentax?  Pentax was the first SLR, so do they hold more patents?  Who is the technology leaders now?  So many questions and I think it is up to each individual to find out what camera to buy.  As I mentioned in my previous article, that in today’s market, if you build a bad camera, you won’t be around long.  So, all the cameras are good now.  The bad ones are gone.  So, how do you pick one?  It’s not a bad idea to ask people who have cameras and ask why they picked the one they did, but, then ask someone who has a different brand why they picked theirs.  And then read some magazines to see what the editors and magazines are saying about the different brands.   I find it really interesting to see what they say.  I will admit, that after what I read in the magazines, that I want to own about 6 different brands of cameras and their lenses.  While I worked in a camera retail store, I actually owned 4 different brands while I worked there, and found each one gave me excellent results.

2- Don’t make a decision on your camera until you hold one and try one.

I HAVE OFTEN SAID THAT YOU WON’T TAKE GOOD PHOTOS UNLESS YOU LIKE THE WAY IT FEELS IN YOUR HAND.  YOU HAVE TO FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH YOUR CAMERA BEFORE YOU CAN TAKE GOOD PHOTOS.  TRY HOLDING DIFFERENT CAMERAS, TRY MOVING THE DIALS, AND PLAY WITH THE CONTROLS AND SEE HOW THEY FEEL.  DO YOU LIKE THE DISPLAY?  HOW DOES IT LOOK WHEN YOU LOOK THROUGH THE VIEWFINDER?  DOES YOUR EYE ALIGN WITH THE VIEWFINDER?  ARE THE MARKINGS ON THE CAMERAS EASY TO SEE?  SO, GET A CAMERA THAT YOU ARE COMFORTABLE WITH.  

3- If I buy a camera, how easy is it to get accessories?

Now this is one I want to mention because of those who try to buy things online.  You see some good deals online, whether on Amazon, or some mail order places, and then you see some odd name brand merchandise and it is about half the price of the other brands.  And they seem to have a few accessories that it comes with.  So, you buy that, and then later on, the accessories seem like they don’t work well, or you want to buy another lens for it, and you can’t find lenses for that brand.  So, I want to mention that be sure you buy something that is a name brand camera manufacture, that is well known, so that if you want to expand in the future, you can get accessories for your camera.  Beware of the imitation crap.  I want to let you know, having worked at a camera store, that I have had people bring in cameras that I have never heard of some of those brands brought in to me, and they wanted to buy a lens for their camera.  It was sad when I heard how much they spent, and now they could not get their camera repaired, or get anything for their strange named camera.  So, make sure you do get a name brand product.

4- try to decide what type of photography you want to do or that interests you.

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As you go along in your photography, you will find that you will like to do certain types of photography more than others.  If you decide to be a portrait photographer, I would advise you to take classes on portrait photography.  I see too many photographers that go into portrait work without the knowledge of “how to pose people”, “understanding lighting”  “portrait techniques” etc.  That is a serious art.  I saw a person recently that tried to get into that category, took some engagement photos, and because he did not know how to pose the couple, they were really upset with him, and their photos.  So, it takes a while to learn all that.  

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There is wildlife photography, and that looks really fun, but, then you have to have some really expensive equipment, and some training on that as well.  That type of equipment involves some very expensive big lenses, tripods, etc.

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How about landscape photography?  Seems like the easiest route, right?  Wrong…  That involves some serious commitment to timing.  The best photos in landscape do not allow you to just go at any time of day.  Sunsets, or sunrises, golden hours, foggy days, getting up at 4am, to get to the best places by 5:30 am, and then make sure you have the shadows just right.   And composition is a must with this more than any other type of photography.

Macro photography or extreme close-up photography, is an art in itself.  I think Nikon has a photo contest every year where the best macro photographers try to come up with their best photos of the most extreme close-ups.  And it is amazing photos, but the equipment and lighting and patience it takes to do that is also something to do some research on. 

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Commercial photography, where you actually make money taking photos of architecture, food, real estate, etc.  That will take time and practice and a real equipment investment to do that.  Almost to the point of needing to learn from another photographer who has done that to get into that door.  

Okonomiyaki
photo by luke chan

5- Find a source, or mentor to learn from continually:

I have been in the photographic business for many years.  I have done retail, I have been a portrait photographer, wedding photographer, and landscape photographer, and other things.  And still to this day, I subscribe to several magazines that I like.  There are magazines that I have found that seemed biased to certain brands, or probably do so because they get paid well by their advertisers.  So, knowing that, I don’t normally take their product reviews too seriously.  Because they all seem to like everything.  So, I actually like to read peoples blogs, besides my own.  I will take a good write up and repost it here on occasion,  and because of my background with the different brands, I can generally make mature comments about the different brands.  Although, in this blog, I try to remain unbiased between the brands.  Just let’s learn photography.  So, maybe this is one of the best places for you to learn about photography.  I can be truthful, right?  Starting this year, I am starting this whole series of becoming a photographer FROM THE BEGINNING to a GREAT PHOTOGRAPHER.  This article today is part 2.  So, this is a great place to stay and learn about photography, because I intend to cover it all.  And you can come back often to refresh your learning.  But, magazines, books will all help you.  Find a professional photographer to follow.  One of my favorite professional photographers is Art Wolfe.  He is a Professional Photographer who has even had a TV show on PBS.  His work is amazing.  Check out his website:  https://artwolfe.com/

Part 3 will be next:   HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE CONTROLS ON YOUR CAMERA.

 

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ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL DESTINATIONS FOR ALL

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AMAZING PHOTO EXPEDITIONS THAT ANYONE CAN DO:

 

TRAVEL 1
Go gorilla trekking in Uganda
The word “trek” might sound off-putting, but gorilla trekking in Uganda is surprisingly accessible. If you wish to see mountain gorillas in the wild but are less able-bodied, you can now be carried into Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in a sedan chair, travelling deep into the forest to come face-to-face with these wild primates. TravelLocal can facilitate this incredible experience, appropriate for all abilities and ages.
TRAVEL 2
Scale Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
While hiking to the top of Cape Town’s magnificent Table Mountain is an option, it’s certainly a tiring one. Instead, take the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, which will whisk you to the top in just five minutes. Once you reach the dizzying heights of Cape Town’s most famous mountain, enjoy fantastic views of the city, join a free guided walk and enjoy spotting a range of wildlife, from lizards to dassies.

 

TRAVEL 3
Explore the Alps in Switzerland
Take Switzerland’s most scenic train journey, winding through picturesque peaks, green meadows and postcard-pretty villages on foot, or by train on the Bernina Express. Ramblers Walking Holidays offers a nine-day trip that visits five small villages, with the option to hop on and off the train as you choose along the way. This means you can get the best of both worlds, enjoying the stunning views from a carriage when you’re too tired to walk. 

 

TRAVEL 4
Visit Mont Blanc, France
If you want the benefits of mountain walking without the physical strain, consider a trip to Mont Blanc with Adagio. You’ll enjoy a glacial backdrop of awesome peaks, including Mont Blanc, while using Chamonix Valley’s vast network of cable cars, tramways and trains making sure the beautiful views are accessible for all kinds of traveller. Included in the trip is a flexible lift pass, so you can opt in and out of walks and other activities as you please.

 

TRAVEL 5
Visit Machu Picchu in Peru
You don’t need to hike for several days to journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. The easiest way to get there is aboard luxury train Belmond Hiram Bingham, which whisks passengers from Cusco to Machu Picchu in serious style. All the while, you’ll get phenomenal views, a gourmet lunch and traditional live music before arriving at the ancient ruins.

 

TRAVEL 6
Explore the Amazon by boat
Journey down the Amazon River in style on a beautiful boat with KE Adventure Travel. What you do once you’re on board is up to you: choose to join daily excursions to see exotic wildlife, visit a manatee rescue centre or see the Amazon by night on an after-dark excursion. When it all gets too hot and humid – the rainforest is prone to high humidity – you can enjoy onboard presentations by experts. All excursions are included, and any walking involved is light enough for most. 

 

TRAVEL 7
Visit the Great Wall of China
Thanks to the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, lifts and wheelchair ramps were installed on the most popular part of the Great Wall of China, making the longest wall in the world more accessible than ever. Try to visit mid-week, when it’s least crowded, so you can marvel at the 2,000-year-old wall, one of the oldest existing man-made structure

 

TRAVEL 8
Explore Antarctica
For a truly once-in-a-lifetime adventure that anyone can do, book a ticket on the luxurious Scenic Eclipse for a 16-day cruise from Buenos Aires to the vast Antarctic Peninsula. With zodiac boats, kayaks, a helicopter and a submarine on board, there are plenty of opportunities for epic adventures, from exploring beautiful waterways to meeting colonies of penguins. Even if you don’t disembark, it’s still worth the trip with this untouched wilderness for a view.

 

TRAVEL 9
Take the Trans-Mongolian Express
Travel to remote and largely inaccessible regions in total comfort with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, which offers a trip on the Trans-Mongolian Express, journeying across Russia combined with a visit to the Mongolian national festival. While you go, you’ll effectively be in a hotel on wheels, with fine-dining menus, fully guided sightseeing, on-board activities and carefully planned excursions. Guests are transported from the train to each site, making access suitable for all.

 

TRAVEL 10
See the northern lights in Alaska, USA
Seeing the magical aurora borealis for yourself is an all-ages-appropriate adventure. Gondwana Ecotours carefully plans trips in Alaska for all kinds of traveller, using an ‘aurora wake-up service’ to make sure you get the most out of the skies. Hiking, snowshoeing and dog-sledding are options for more active travellers, and for those who would rather keep it simple, all you need to do to see the northern lights simply step outside once you hear the aurora alarm. Guests with Gondwana see the lights at least once on every trip.

 

TRAVEL 11
Visit the Grand Canyon, USA
Despite the fact that the terrain at Grand Canyon is often rugged, rocky or narrow, there are plenty of ways to see the spectacular geological landmark for yourself. Get hold of a Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit at the entrance gate, which allows visitors with mobility issues access to some areas closed to public traffic. All hotels also have wheelchair-accessible rooms, and shuttle buses have wheelchair ramps.

 

TRAVEL 12
See the Great Barrier Reef
You don’t need to be an able swimmer to make the most of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Of course, you can snorkel if you wish, but it’s also possible to view the reef from a semi-submersible reef viewer, glass-bottom boat or underwater observatory. You could also try a “Helmet Dive” for a scuba-style experience without getting your hair wet.

 

TRAVEL 13
See the big five in South Africa
Accessible safari company Epic Enabled’s tagline is “Don’t let disability keep you from travelling”, and their aim is to provide barrier-free safaris for everyone. Take a trip to Kruger National Park to be in with a good chance of spotting some big game, have close animal encounters and see incredible sunsets, with trips planned carefully around your particular needs and adapted accommodation organised for you.

 

TRAVEL 14
See the Sistine Chapel, Rome
With ramps, elevators, lifts and step-free access, everyone can see the glory of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City for themselves. For a unique experience without the crowds, consider booking a private tour of the site, which will allow you to view the masterpiece after the usual hours of access.

 

TRAVEL 15
Visit Mount Rushmore, USA
To see one of the world’s most recognisable sculptures for yourself, head to South Dakota’s Black Hills and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Take the wheelchair-accessible Presidential Trail, just over half a mile long, to get in front of the sculpture and spot some local wildlife along the way.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF:  LOVE EXPLORING.

Go to their website at:  https://www.loveexploring.com/

 

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