UNDERSTANDING LIGHT: PART 2

Photo by Johny vino on Unsplash

With our cameras today, very little attention is focused on lighting. Our cameras have a built-in “white-balance” system in it so that the colors come out right, even if the lighting is awful. So, why would I do this blog with the focus on different colors that light produces? Because you may run into situations, where the camera you own, even though it is supposed to balance everything to white, doesn’t do it.

In the photo above, I picked that because of the 2 different types of lighting in this photo. Let’s go over it, and I’ll explain more of the types of lighting:

The photo above is showing one of the most beautiful chapels in the world. The incandescent lighting is doing it’s job by putting out it’s natural color, which is kind of an orange, or gold color light. And the daylight coming through the stained glass windows is giving a beautiful rendition of the colors used in that stained glass. In fact, the windows in this photo, are the most accurate color.

This photo was probably done with a camera that had the automatic white balance. But, how is it supposed to fix all that? If it made the chapel area in the correct color, the stained glass windows would not be a vert pretty color. It is hard for any camera to adjust the white balance for any multiple colors of lighting.

There is only one thing in the world that can fix all the different types of lighting, and that is the human eye.

The one device that can give you the best color correction, to make things look normal, is the human eye.

Last winter, I was taking a walk in the park, and it was foggy. And this is the photo I took in the fog:

Notice the color of the light coming from the street lights. That is why this photo has the warm orange glow.

Now, the question is with some photos, including the one above, is: does this photo look great with this color cast, or would it look better with it color corrected in photoshop or Lightroom?

This photo, taken in the same park as the previous photo, had the warm glow to it, but was fixed in Lightroom. Which one do you like better?

UNDERSTANDING THE “KELVIN” RATING SYSTEM:

The Kelvin color temperature scale is used to describe the way various light temperatures appear visually. It is measured in degrees on a Kelvin scale (K) and typically ranges from 2700 – 5000 degrees Kelvin.

Virtually all light bulbs or lighting fixtures that come with bulbs included will reference on the package which Kelvin Color temperature is associated with the item you are purchasing. Having a complete understanding of what these temperature choices mean and how they will look in your home will help you to make the best lighting choices.  

Almost all light globes, or any light source will show on the package what the Kelvin rating is for the light produced. Take a look next time you buy a light globe.

I am one that likes my light in my house to be the most normal color possible. When I go buy a light globe then, they will either show on the package that it is a daylight bulb, or they may call it “cool white”. Either one will work, and won’t give you the warm color to your home. There are people who think that the “warm white” is better on your eyes. I don’t know how white can be warm. I still want my art work, my photos that hang on the wall to have the proper color in the room so they look right.

THE KELVIN SCALE:

This is a great scale that tells you exactly what color light globes are in their rating as compared to daylight. Daylight is the perfect light, and it produces the most perfect natural color. We know, however, that there is a thing called the “Golden Hour” which is the 1 hour after sunrise, and the one hour before sunset, and the daylight color is no longer accurate. But, it sure gives a nice warm color to everything lit up by the Golden hour.

Let’s look at the Kelvin rating of our light sources:
  • Daylight is “white light”, and it is what the light balance in your camera is calibrated to. So, this is the most perfect light we use in photography
  • Standard Warm White light bulbs are rated at 3200K. Looking at the Kelvin Scale above, you can see that it is definitely a warm yellow color.
  • Cool White light bulbs are not perfectly rated like daylight, but close. They are rated at 4500K to 5000k. So, you can see they are very close to the color of daylight (and that is the light I like to put in my home).
  • Fluorescent light is rated at: Warm white fluorescent bulbs range from 3000k to 3500k. Cool white range from 4100k to 4200k. Most people buy the Cool White bulbs. They look the most correct to our eyes, but, the cameras, and especially film, it brings out some kind of weird green color. I guess green is closer to daylight than the warm white.
  • Street lights: The International Dark Sky Association (I didn’t know there was such a group), recommends that street lights be rated at 2200K. Now you can see why my fog pictures, untouched, are so warm and yellow. They are not even on the Kelvin Scale listed above.
  • Flash on cameras, and cell phones: 5000K to 6500K. Nice for perfect flash photos.

CONCLUSION:

I hope that the next time you look at a light globe, you can see the actual color of the bulb. And then realize that it is not a color at all like daylight. It doesn’t matter what light bulb you choose, notice that it has a certain color cast and it can affect your overall photo.

Without vision, the photographer perishes

David duChemin

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This article today was written by: Lanny Cottrell – 123photogo

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LEARN ABOUT LIGHT

THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIGHT:

This “ART OF SEEING” series done by Ken Lee, has made me think of all the things we should all learn in photography, to make us a better photographer. Without light, there would be no picture. Hate to say it, but, this is an important subject.

Let’s take a look at the different types of light so we can all understand how to use them:

  1. DIFFUSED LIGHTING
  2. BACKLIGHT
  3. REFLECTED

DIFFUSED LIGHTING

Diffused light that which is not harsh and direct, it has been softened in some way. A great example is when you are outside and the sun is shining, with no clouds in the sky. The light is harsh and you will notice that there will be a lot shadows falling on or around your subject. But, if clouds are in the sky, and they block out some of that harsh sunlight, the light then becomes diffused.

Note on this beautiful photo: Here you see no shadows, the light has been diffused, probably by a cloud. This is a good type of light because everything seems to have the same equal amount of light. Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

You can use diffused lighting to your advantage in a great way. If you are shooting portraits on an overcast (diffused) day, you are pretty much shooting with nature’s own softbox. You will be able to work with your subject easier, and have different angles to shoot from, because you won’t be limited by the harsh lines and shadows that undiffused light can create. Overcast (diffused) lighting is preferred by many photographers, as it is a flat and even light. If it were a particularly sunny and bright day, shooting in the shade would also offer you some diffused lighting.

This particular image shows the use of diffused lighting, using the shade of the building to soften the light, while also reflecting light shades back to the subject.

BACKLIGHTING:

Backlighting is where you are illuminating your subject from the back, as opposed to from the front, or the side. Working with backlight you can silhouette your subject, or give them a glow. To Silhouette your subject, you would meter for the sky and to create a glow around your subject, you would meter for the subject itself. You need to place your subject in front of your preferred light source and allow that light to illuminate your subject. If you are using the sun as your light source, different times of the day will give you different types of backlighting. The lower the sun falls, the softer the light will feel. You may find that sometimes you will have to move yourself into a position where your camera can autofocus or switch to full manual, as the light can be so strong that your focusing point struggles to find what it is you want to focus on.

REFLECTED LIGHT:

Reflected light can be found everywhere, on most surfaces. Reflected light is literally the light that is reflected from a particular surface or material. If you were to shoot a portrait next to a white building, the light hitting the building would be reflected on to your subject, creating a soft light. If you were in the middle of the red Moroccan Atlas Mountains and you were to shoot a portrait, there would be a softer red reflection coming onto your subject from the ground. Or, if you were doing a portrait session outside and you wanted to bounce some additional light into your subject’s face, you could use an actual reflector. They normally come in two colors; one side gold, and one side white.

Reflected light tends to be quite soft and takes on the color of the surface/material that it is being bounced off.

The reflector was being used with the gold side to reflect a warm glow onto the subject’s face.

I had some help writing this article. Thanks to: Natasha Cadman / from Digital photography school for her great knowledge on this subject.

Tomorrow’s blog: Different colors of light, and how to work with them.

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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.


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