I am really having fun with my new book. I do wish I were moving a bit faster, but considering all I have to learn and all the other balls I have to keep in the air, I’m happy to be making any progress.
And this week’s creative exercise is on light.
A small word. A huge concept.
The author compares light to paint – what we choose to do with it creates textures, lines and tones. Light from behind creates rim light, but when the light comes through the object, the effect is completely different. Light from the side point to texture. And light from the front simply flattens that texture.
Light changes the mood and can add emotional impact. It reveals or conceals to provide or obscure information.
The author has the reader ask the following questions when considering light in a frame:
“What is the light doing in this frame?”
“Is it doing what I need to create the photo I want?”
I wanted to see for myself. So I got out my camera and took some pictures with light – and it’s direction and the resulting impact – in mind. And I’m going to take you along with me.
So let’s get crackin’!
For this first series, I grabbed a gardenia flower off the bush outside my back door at about 7:30 this morning. The sun was behind some clouds and also blocked by my house. It wasn’t the best location… but it was 7:30. My brain wasn’t firing at 100%.
Because of the shade from my house and the cloud cover, and it was early morning, the difference in lighting is very subtle. And, in general, shooting in the first few hours and the last few hours of sunlight offers just that – more subtle shadows and more even light. Most photographers prefer this for portraiture because it makes it easier to move and change direction, it makes skin tones softer and more even, and so, is much easier to work with than the more harsh light of mid-day.
For this next series, I did the exact same thing. I honestly hadn’t intended to use Seamus as my subject, but he was sitting there so sweetly, almost begging me to take his picture. I think he might have been envious of all the play that flower of getting.
And I thought it would be interesting to compare the flower pictures with the dog pictures.
In general, I prefer things lit from the front. I just do. But I am beginning to see why, in some cases, being lit from the side, and especially the back, can be more interesting. And more fun.
Not sure which of these I prefer between the one lit from the front and the one lit from the side. Or the one lit from the back.
Clearly, I’m not sure. None of them are very exciting (although he is so cute and is being such a good boy) but the shift in lighting is so very subtle.
For this next series, I waited until the sun came out, about 10 or so, and the shadows were getting pretty harsh. But I wanted to shoot, regardless of my preference for the light.
I wanted to see what the light was doing to, hopefully, learn to use light to create more of a story with my pictures.
These two (above and below) were both taken from the side. Same time of day.
But they are so different.
I really prefer the high shade, because I’m not a big fan of shadows. But I need to learn about shooting in direct sunlight because sometimes life is happening in direct sun and not in high shade.
These are both taken with the light from the back – one in high shade and the other in direct sunlight.
The difference is most pronounced because the rim light is so much more obvious in the second image.
And I really love it, especially because of the pony’s flaxen mane.
I prefer the composition of the first image, but the lighting of the second.
And these last few, I just simply wanted to share.
I don’t love this next picture. But I do love the way the light from behind captured all the dirt flying.
And you can almost feel the motion in the picture because of it. And you can definitely feel the dirt. Eck.
And these, well… what’s not to love. This pony is a crack-up.
And his funny face is made more dramatic because of the shadows.
I think they’re my favorites of the day.
Because they taught me that sometimes, your not-so-favorite light can result in some pictures that just might be your favorite.
So I will continue to practice, practice, practice.
But now, I will nap.
What do y’all think? Do you have a favorite? And if so, why?
Could you tell a difference in the subtle lighting of the first two series? Or not really?
And if anyone would like to share their own tips on lighting, feel free.