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Photography Light collection artwork compiled in a collage by New England fine art photographer Juergen Roth.
Photography is often referred to as painting with light. When we talk about painting with light we talk about the process of creating a photograph. Photography derives from the Greek where photo means light and graph stands for painting. So let’s review the quality, quantity, direction and how we can manipulate light to our advantage for exceptional photography.
Quality of Light
“The moment you take the leap of understanding to realize you are not photographing a subject but are photographing light is when you have control over the medium”. - Daryl Benson
The best time for photography is the early morning or late afternoon hours of a day. When the sun rises or sets the quality of sunlight paints our photographic objects in warm hues. Approximately 1 hour before and 2 hours after sunrise or 1 hour after and 2 hours before sunset provide the so called golden hours of the day. During this time we experience lighting conditions that bring out the entire texture of our photographic objects in warm and pleasing colors.
Cloudy, overcast days provide soft lighting conditions. This type of light evenly illuminates our subjects, thereby achieving beautiful detail throughout the frame, including highlights and shadows. Since an overcast sky does not typically add to the composition of an image, we usually like to eliminate it from the frame. However, rules are meant to be broken and you are the artist, so you get to make your own artistic statement with your image.
Sunlight during midday is harsh and adds very little to our photography. There is minimal detail in the darker areas of the picture and colors are often blown out. This is the time that’s best suited for resting from the early morning photo session, catching up on things or scouting photo locations for your late afternoon or evening photo sessions.
Quantity of Light
“Light meters read; photographers interpret”. - Catherine Jo Morgan
Bright light transfers into fast shutter speeds thereby enabling us to freeze action or movement within our camera. Low light slows down shutter speeds and motion becomes more blurry as in the intimate landscape photography picture of the New England cobble stone bridge over Sudbury River.
Our camera provides us with the required controls to compensate for slow or fast shutter speeds. These controls are ISO, aperture and shutter speed, a.k.a. exposure time, settings which make up for a correct exposure.
Understanding exposure and how ISO, aperture and shutter speed correlate is critical for a high quality photograph and one should always strive for the highest quality image. I usually select the lowest ISO camera setting (ISO100 and smaller) to minimize camera noise and capture more detail. I then choose the aperture depending on my photographic goals and the amount of depth of field to capture my vision.
Choosing a small aperture or f-stop setting (large f/numbers such as 11 and greater) will slow down shutter speed but maximizes depth of field and is mostly desired when photographing grand landscapes or city skylines. In such photos we strive for sharpness and detail from the nearest picture element in the foreground all the way to the horizon.
A large aperture (small f/numbers such as 5.6 and less) selection will provide fast shutter speeds and is mostly desired when capturing action or motion (i.e. birds or sports) with our photography. In these types of photos we strive for a quiet backdrop that beautifully isolates the main subject from any distractions in the background and solely lays the focus on the main subject.
Direction of Light
“Available to all photographers free is the one light source given by a window which faces the north. It's a painterly light that any face or still life comes alive in”. - Garry Camp Burdick
Read More >>> http://www.apogeephoto.com/june2012/jroth62012.shtml
June 20th, 2012
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