Sep 16, 2009

On seeing the light

Taking the time to understand how light affects your subject goes a long way in how your photographs come out.

Our eyes are wonderfull instruments that adjust and compensate automatically for any variations of light. Unfortunately what we see with our eyes does not automatically translate to what the camera sees. Todays cameras are extraordinarily sophisticated machines with all the functions and abilities to make any compensation or adjustment you might need, but it is still just a tool , a dumb machine that needs to be told what to do.

When I first started in photography I just shot every which way without thought about the light, shooting in the mddle of the day in the harsh sunlight, in the shade, with my on-board flash and so on, just eager to shoot as many pictures I can.

Over the years I've learned (from other photographers and books and all sorts of ther sources on the web)to try to take a moment to ask myself a few questions -
  • Where is the light coming from - in front of your subject, behind, from the side , from the  top ,through a window or door, outside ....
  • What is the quality of the light - harsh or hard, soft , or somewhere in between...
  • What am I trying to achieve - a dark moody portrait , a bright happy scene, a quiet moment?
  • Is there enough light for what I want to achieve...
Taking a moment to consider these questions you can get a pretty good idea of how your photograph may come out... even a small adustment such as where your subject is facing or where you are shooting from can make the difference between a snapshot and a beautiful portrait.

Invariably, asking myself these questions before shooting have resulted in better photographs then when I have just shot without thinking...

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