See the Light

January 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Correctly capturing light - this is the heart and soul of photography. The keyword here is correctly. The first step is to see how the light is falling on the object you wish to photograph.

There are 6 qualities of light to keep in mind with every photograph you take:

  1. Direction. What direction is the light coming from? This will help determine where the shadows will fall and where to position yourself while taking the photo.
  2. Quality. If the light is too harsh, like mid day outdoors, then your photo will have strong shadows and too much light. Look for soft light. For landscape photography this will be sunrise or sunset. For indoor photography you can create soft light with reflectors for natural light and softboxes for artificial light.
  3. Contrast. This is the difference between the highlights and shadows in a photo. This can be controlled in post processing with Lightroom or Photoshop, but it is best to get the results you want in camera. You don't want to over expose or under expose.
  4. Intensity.  What is the brightness level? Is it dark, then you will need to crank up your ISO and shoot with the widest aperture. Is it bright, then use a lower ISO and smaller aperture. This is a simplistic approach and should be practiced and studied more in detail.
  5. Movement. How will the shutter speed affect the photograph? A fast shutter speed will freeze action, a slow shutter speed will blur action. Think of a waterfall. In order to get the creamy look you would use a slow shutter speed for a good photograph. A fast shutter speed will freeze the water and give a harsh look to the photo.
  6. Color. This is all about white balance. If you shoot in raw format you can correct or change the white balance in Lightroom or Photoshop. Again, it is best to get it right in camera. Fortunately today's cameras make it easy. Is it cloudy? Then use the cloudy white balance. Is there florescent light in the room you are shooting? Then use the florescent white balance. You get the picture (pun intended).

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect (after all, is there any such thing as perfection?) but pretty close. There is a lot to think about when creating a photo. Over time it becomes second nature. I hope this helps you see the light!


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