Save & earn with MPB; trade-in and buy pre-loved

Idle thoughts 3 ? Light is everything...


I make no great claims for my photography. But I do try very hard not to be boring.
Thanks for calling in. Moira
...Read More

Idle thoughts 3 Light is everything...

10 Jan 2015 1:00PM   Views : 643 Unique : 420

Continuing my exploration of things that get repeated week on week in the Critique Gallery. This entry will be a bit shorter because the message is simple and clear-cut.

The word *photography means drawing with light. Photography is all about light, it depends on light. Light creates the image.

Observe light, study it, understand it, treat it with respect, try to work with it not against it. Photography starts to get exciting when you move away from just looking at the subject, start looking at what light does to it.

To pick up on one of those points Treat light with respect. Do you remember the story of the LPOTY winner who was disqualified after the results had been announced, when someone spotted the rather obvious fact that the light and shadows in the foreground of the image didn't match up with the light in the sky? It became known as the 'two suns' landscape. That's what you risk if you don't show respect. (Story here I don't like the Mail but it does give the best explanation I could find on line).

Look at how light catches and defines edges, how it works with shadow to show up contours and textures, to give depth.

Low, side-lighting will create that effect most easily. That's why early morning and late afternoon / early evening are so popular and not just for landscapes. Low light shows up every detail, every texture. It explains the attraction of photographing old cemeteries, all those curving, carved stone edges that gain drama when low light catches them.

Light behind the subject is much harder to manage but can give spectacular effects. Rim lighting, silhouettes...

Overhead light I avoid it if I can... It's both harsh and boring. Midday is for lunch not photography. (OK, That's a challenge, now prove me wrong... )

As an experiment, find an interesting object a sculpture is ideal, a vase, ornament or cut crystal glass would be good. Put it on a table in a totally dark room, shine a torch on it from a few feet away. Move round it, vary the angle and height of the torch, watch how the effects change... Then look out for opportunities to use those angles in real life.

*As a footnote: Sir John Herschel coined the word photography in 1839, to describe the new medium.

Around twenty one years later he came up with another new term, snapshot. Yes it really is that old! It marked the fact that technical advances had allowed photography to move out of the studio (ten minute exposures, subjects' heads held in a brace to keep them still) and into the real world. Cameras now worked with the speed of a pistol, and the shutter snapped the shot.

Photographers could now capture subjects such as wildlife humane, creative shooting. Which is why I always find it funny when wildlife photographers decry other genres as 'mere snapshots'. For me it's a totally positive term, it means freezing a moment in time.

(By the way, in something over eight years on the site this week is my first excursion into the blogs and I really don't know how this side of the site works. So if there's someone actually looking in, Hi! And thanks for your time... )

Recent blogs by mrswoolybill

Litter - the community can fight back...

Discussion on a recent upload reminded me yet again that if there is one non-photographic subject guaranteed to get people agitated here it is litter. It's a problem that is constantly evolving but never improving. We live in a throw-away culture...

Posted: 28 Jan 2017 5:31PM

Community Photography

Bear with me for a bit, I'll come to the point eventually... Some years ago, a Newcastle businessman called John Moreels, last in line in the old family firm of Ward Philipson Printers, was in the process of retiring and selling up the business prem...

Posted: 17 Jan 2016 11:24AM

Long-sightedness and a steep learning curve

A New Year, a new toy. I have been thinking for a long time about getting a compact camera, something neat and convenient, to fit in my handbag. I've seen Bill with his Emergency Lumix, and how he gets pictures that I miss out on. The D7000 is ser...

Posted: 1 Jan 2016 9:23AM

Idle thoughts addenda...

What seems like an age ago, but was actually less than a fortnight, I listed some of the things that we find ourselves typing on a regular basis in the Critique Gallery. I managed to omit quite a lot. Here are a few more, in random order: You we...

Posted: 18 Jan 2015 11:04AM

7 The Notorious Rule of Thirds....

Photography has its Rules. Do a Google search and you will find lists... The most frequently quoted is The Rule of Thirds, which says - Divide the frame up into nine equal rectangles using two horizontal and two vertical lines, and aim to place your ...

Posted: 16 Jan 2015 3:30PM


Relic01 Avatar
Relic01 12 8 Canada
8 Jul 2015 3:51PM
I like the idea of lighting an object in a dark room and observing the effects. I'm going to do that.

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.