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:
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.