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TAKE DRAMATIC PHOTOS USING OUR EXPERT TIPS
■ How to control and enhance natural light ■ Creative ways to shoot with ﬂash ■ Simple techniques for spectacular results
VITAL SKILLS GUIDE
Many photographers just starting out tend to think of the role of light only in terms of exposure. But ﬁnding the best light and learning how to control it can have a huge effect on the emotional impact of your images. This book will arm you with the knowledge and techniques you need to really begin mastering light.
Light TAKE DRAMATIC PHOTOS USING OUR EXPERT TIPS Master .
Lepp ■ Top 10 tips p10 p14 p16 p22 p24 p28 p30 p36 p46 p49 Light 7 .Contents ■ Light’s character ■ Chasing the light ■ Improving the quality ■ Master of light: Charlie Waite ■ Fill-in with ﬂash ■ Master of light: Chris Johns ■ Dealing with low light ■ Light on the landscape ■ Master of light: George D.
We don’t cover studio lighting in this book – that will come later. Digital Camera Magazine 8 Light . Soon you’ll feel your heart race a little faster as the black clouds of a passing storm tear apart and rich.Start painting with light ur three previous photography guides have covered composition. show you how to make the most of falling light levels and how to use ﬂash in understated ways. you need to learn to love light. O Marcus Hawkins Editor. appreciate its endless subtleties and try to make the most of its mood swings. we focus on natural light – how to capture it. exposure and colour – now it’s time to look at the element which is the key inﬂuence for all three aspects. As a photographer. You just need to learn a few tricks that can help you rescue the situation – this book will show you them. Don’t pull your hair out if the light isn’t ‘right’ though. how to enhance and how to use it in great new ways. golden light burns through to transform even the most mundane scene (just don’t forget to carry your camera at all times – you’ll kick yourself if you miss capturing such an event). We’ll give you ideas for taming harsh light. Instead.
Light 9 .
Light’s character ou really begin to grow as a photographer when you start being able to read the different characteristics of light and are able to adjust your shooting accordingly. Y 10 Light . You can control each of them to a certain degree. whether it’s through a shift in camera position. Where photography’s concerned. intensity and direction. there are four elements of light that you need to be able to recognise: its quality. colour. the use of light modiﬁers or during image processing.
You can improve the quality of light to some degree on a small scale using diffusors. amber to warm it up. ‘warmer’ pictures produce a more pleasurable viewing experience. an ordinary location’s been transformed by the play of light and shadow. Soft light – early morning. You can place colour correction ﬁlters in front of your lens – blue to cool down a scene. sharp-edged shadows and hot highlights. late evening. but there’s very little you can do other than wait for the very best light when you’re shooting landscapes. a misty day – reduces the contrast between light and dark and produces soft-edged shadows in which detail’s still visible. It’s ideal for portraits. Hard lighting – from the sun on a cloudless summer’s day or an undiffused ﬂashgun – creates inky. Here. Your camera will struggle to maintain detail in both. and compromises might have to be taken. Or you can simply wait until you’re back home editing your images on your computer before you start changing the colour balance of your picture. powerful photograph. it’s one of the easiest elements of light to ‘correct’. Fortunately. Colour of light We covered the colour of light comprehensively in the previous guide.Quality of light You can judge the quality of light by the shadows it creates. You can change your camera’s white balance setting to enhance or reduce the warmth of a scene. In general. ﬁll-ﬂash and the like (you’ll ﬁnd tips and techniques for doing just that throughout this guide). close-ups and revealing the glorious colours of autumn. a cloudy day. ‘Colder’ pictures can leave use feeling exactly that. The sun rising or setting creates long shadows – plan for them when you compose an image. Light 11 . reﬂectors. but it’s such an important ingredient for creating images with emotional impact that we couldn’t leave it out here. creating a simple.
move a piece of card or your hand close to the front of the lens to shade it from the light (just be sure that it doesn’t appear in the frame). 12 Light . Your ISO can also be set lower – so there’s the potential to create a higher quality image. It brings foliage to life and gives water an edge. You’ll need to work with wider apertures in order to freeze movement. intensity. Each brings its own unique feel to a picture. The only thing to watch out for is direct light striking the front of the lens. which reduces contrast. You might ﬁnd a lens hood – particularly on a wideangle lens – doesn’t always prevent ﬂare. or brightness has a crucial role to play in terms of exposure. It might not have the impact of backlighting or sidelighting. drama and visual interest. with full frontlighting. The more intense and hard the light is. Backlighting can enhance mood. Backlighting. but don’t limit yourself just to these. Early morning light is usually less intense than that of the sun at midday. the smaller your aperture can be and yet still retain action-stopping shutter speeds. particularly of birds and animals. The more light there is available. the more chance there is of highlights getting ‘blown’ in a digital image.Intensity of light Perhaps not as important in enhancing the mood of a shot as the other characteristics of light. Sidelighting is great for bringing out the texture in a landscape. This shot wouldn’t be as atmospheric if shot from the other side of the subject. This produces ﬂare. side and back. Frontlighting is good for close-up portraits. In these instances. can be used to provide a ‘halo’ around a portrait sitter. for instance. Check your camera’s histogram – an image on an LCD monitor might seem brighter or darker than it actually is. Direction of light Light can illuminate your subject from three basic directions – front. though. It reveals shape and form and gives pictures depth. It provides mood.
Light 13 .
A sunset tends to produce a richer. O You sunset shots don’t have to be cliched skyscapes – try incorporating the orb in unusual ways… 14 Light . This is why the light has a ‘colder’ quality at midday. scattering the light still further. Sunsets and sunrises are probably the most cliched photographic subjects known to man – but don’t resist capturing a truly breathtaking one when the moment presents itself. This ﬁlters out more of the wavelengths at the blue end of the colour spectrum. warmer image than a sunrise because atmospheric pollution’s built up throughout the day. you’ll search out the times of day where the quality of light is generally at its best – at the start and end of the day during the ‘golden hours’.Chasing the light nce you start getting a feel for light. The sun’s rays have to pass through more of the atmosphere during sunrise and sunset. when the sun is directly overhead and passing through a much thinner part of the atmosphere. leaving us to see wavelengths at the warmer end.
0. take a spot meter reading from a bright area of sky. it’s unlikely that we can escape work commitments to catch the sunset on a regular basis – but getting up early and getting out before the sun rises can be an option. You need to make sure you’re in position and ready to start shooting before the sun actually clips the horizon though. For those of us holding down a day job. Instead.Get there early Many photographers prefer shooting at dawn – that way they’re not ﬁghting against falling light levels as they would be at the end of the day. clearer quality than at sunset – and shadows tend to creep on you rather fast at the end of the day. Early morning light can have more of a sharper. lock the reading in and recompose with the sun back in the frame. as the ‘magic’ light only lasts for a few minutes. Lakes and rivers also tend to be more still at this time of the day – perfect for capturing reﬂections. Don’t include the sun’s bright orb in your frame when you’re metering – it’s likely to cause severe underexposure in your shot.5EV around this initial exposure. Light 15 . Bracket exposures at +/.
removing glaring highlights and opening up the detail in shadows. But it can be softened to produce a much more ﬂattering result. The sun’s big. when held between the sun and the subject. harsh light source. is because they’re a point-source of light relative to the size of the subject of your photograph. that you’ll want soft. Soften hard light The reason hard lights are exactly that. the sky acts like a giant softbox. Commercial diffusion panels are available – thin pieces of semitransparent material which. spread and soften the light. If it’s striking. Close-up shots such as this collection of autumn leaves always beneﬁt from soft.. resulting in unbalanced exposures. You’ll have a much easier time metering for a scene as the contrast will have been reduced – no deep shadows or bright highlights to try and rectify later on your computer. Chances are. seek out raw. graphic shots with black. diffused light more often than not. hard light – when the sun’s high in a clear sky or you’re shooting with on-camera ﬂash. diffused light – although when water drops are present. When you’re working with small subjects using a macro lens. on a cloudless day it too becomes a small. Try using a sheet of tracing paper for macro subjects. though. experiment with sidelighting… 16 Light . and colour appears more saturated. a ﬂashgun held close to them effectively becomes a large softbox relative to their size (particularly when it’s ﬁtted with its own diffusor). cloudy day. On a bright. You’ll be able to reveal much ﬁner detail. but so far away that.Improving the quality D o you want hard or soft light? Both types have their purpose in photography. hard-edged shadows you want.
check the camera’s LCD monitor and adjust output. You can use small reﬂectors to bounce light precisely where you want it. or use a large one to ﬁll in detail on a much grander scale. particularly outdoors. Light 17 . as you’ll more than likely have to do with ﬂash). you’ll probably want to reach for a ﬂashgun or a reﬂector. as there’ll be room to place them between the light source and the subject without them appearing in the frame.Use a reﬂector Diffusors are particularly suited to closerup and macro work. after all) and they’re much easier to use – you can see results ‘live’ (no need to take a test shot. If you’re dealing with a larger subject. Reﬂectors provide the more natural-looking results of the two (they only make use of the ambient light.
the classic combination being white on one side. They’re hard-wearing and portable. gold and varying combinations of both all add their own particular colour. as that’s where viewers would expect to see golden light reﬂected by the sand… 18 Light . Just don’t overdo the gold – try using it when shooting on a beach. gold on the other. Silver can bring a fresh sparkle to a picture. while gold can warm up skin tones well. with the circular collapsible variety folding up into something approaching a quarter of their full size. colour and price – a simple 12” one is likely to set you back around £10. while something in the region of 6’x4’ is unlikely to leave you with much change from £100. ranging in size. They’re also available in double-sided variations. White retains the colour of the natural light. while the likes of silver. particularly a portrait.Reﬂector options There are many commercially available reﬂectors. Despite their cost. these types of reﬂectors have several advantages.
It’s better to get in close to your subject and take a reading from them directly. A small mirror provides an even more crisp. cleaner quality to the light. If you don’t make the surface wrinkled. Be aware of your camera reading for bright backgrounds though – it could be fooled into underexposing the scene. even illumination for the surface you’re bouncing light onto.There’s no need to spend a fortune If you can’t afford a good quality reﬂector. The cold light reﬂected by snow in winter can provide excellent ﬁll light. Find a natural reﬂector If you ﬁnd yourself in a situation where you don’t have a reﬂector close to hand. Remember to increase the exposure for pale skin and decrease it for dark skin. If you’re on a beach. even better). or for really adding punch to a macro shot. you’ll end up with a big. directional source of bounced light – it can be useful for isolating details in a graphic way in a large shot. reach for aluminium foil. For a sharper. full of catchlights on a sunny day. while the rippling surface of a river. why not make your own? The simplest sort is a sheet of plain white card. This might be exactly the effect you’re after though. which bounces back a surprising amount of light (if you can ﬁnd a white beach towel. An open book or newspaper positioned close to the face of a sitter can make a simple alternative. Simply crinkle it up into a ball. uncrinkle it. look for an alternative source of reﬂected light. or you simply want to supplement your current set-up. get your subject close to the sand. hard slice of reﬂected light that feels ‘artiﬁcial’ to the viewer. and stick it to a piece of card. Light 19 . stream or pool. provides a beautiful quality of illumination. This will provide a soft.
pose them so that the light’s coming from over their shoulder or from an angle to the side and use a reﬂector to bounce light back into the darker areas. Wrinkles and ‘imperfect’ skin will also be exaggerated by strong sidelighting – placing a reﬂector close to the opposite side of the subject’s face will remove even the smallest shadows.How to brighten up a face A portrait shoot’s the classic situation for using a reﬂector. and consequently smaller apertures. the increase in light levels also means you can take advantage of higher shutter speeds. sharp from nose-tip to ear. if you can’t ﬁnd an area of shade in which your subject can stand. particularly when it’s outdoors on a clear. Don’t be afraid to use more than one either (try one angled to each side. and a pale ﬂoor and book in this one. 20 Light . bright day where. As well as providing a more ﬂattering illumination. Your subject will thank you if you can get rid of any ugly shadowing on their face. The golden rule is don’t position your subject where they face directly into bright sunlight – they’ll end up squinting. you’ll be surprised how much light can be directed back onto your subject using even the simplest reﬂector. which isn’t ﬂattering. plus one below the subject) – but ensure you don’t cause your sitter to squint by bouncing sunlight straight into their eyes. Take advantage of natural reﬂectors. A white door (offcamera) was used for the left shot. Areas to pay particular attention to are around the eyes and nose and under the chin. Instead. A reﬂector placed low will also bounce light under the brims of caps and hats – you risk burning out the detail in well lit areas of a subject wearing headgear if you simply try to increase the exposure to open up the shadows instead. you’ll have to deal with high contrast lighting. The result? Portraits with a deeper ﬁeld of focus. On a bright day.
Light 21 .
The name of the photographic holiday workshop company he set up 11 years ago – Light & Land – ﬁts like a glove. he began taking pictures of other actors and theatrical productions in 1977. Originally an actor. Everyone who wants to know how to lift their landscape images above the norm needs a copy of Charlie’s ‘The Making of Landscape Photographs’ in their book collection. He hasn’t always been a professional landscape photographer though. there have been over twenty books featuring his stunning images. His mastery of light and composition is clear from every one of his exquisite frames. Just four years later he was commissioned to provide all the images for the National Trust book of Long Walks. 22 Light . numerous exhibitions and tours all over the world. Since then.Master of light Charlie Waite C harlie is the most admired landscape photographer in Britain today.
Light 23 . To learn more about Charlie Waite. Huesca. pay a visit to charliewaite. for 1/8th sec at f/16. Spain was exposed at ISO 50. The contrast of light and shadow gives this shot a real threedimensional quality. Charlie had to race against time – in a matter of minutes there would be no light in the left of the frame. Charlie attached two ﬁlters – a polariser and 81A warm-up – to the wideangle lens on his trusted Hasselblad. Taken as the sun was setting.com.This photograph of the River Esera. and the whole composition would have lost its balance. the bushes there would lose their glow.
The key to making naturallooking shots is to ensure the ﬁll-in light is subtle. for the most part they tend to produce an obviously ‘ﬂashed’ look. You then let the ﬂash pop some life back into the dark areas. with shadows brought up to a similar exposure level as the lighter areas. switch to spotmetering for precise measurement. It looks a bit ‘hot’ 24 Light .Fill-in with ﬂash A lthough it doesn’t soften the quality of harsh midday light. The second shot shows what happens when you shoot in automatic ﬁll-ﬂash mode – the shadows have been brought up to a similar level as the lighter areas. balanced exposure. The idea is to expose for the highlights – if there’s time. Try reducing the output further for a more natural result… The ﬁrst of these shots was taken without any ﬁll-in ﬂash. for instance). Today’s ﬂashes are generally very advanced with effective automatic ﬁll-in modes. You don’t want the artiﬁcial light to overpower the natural light – it shouldn’t be obvious that you’ve used it. However. a burst of ﬁll ﬂash can open up shadows to provide a more pleasing. but be aware of the tone of the area you’re metering from (you’ll need to add a little more exposure if the subject’s lighter than mid-tone. The image is dull.
then decrease its output gradually over the next four or ﬁve frames. First. a dark subject and mid-tone subject (visit your local toy shop and pick up some soft toys – they’re ideal). until you reach -2EV. get hold of a white subject. position each one in turn within ﬂash range and ﬁre off a set of frames. This has provided a subtle amount of ﬁll-in light. making sure the ambient lighting conditions are consistent throughout. You can then simply look at the shots on your computer to determine what atio of ﬁll-in ﬂash you prefer for that given lighting condition. Shadows have been retained.Set up a test It’s worth doing your own run of test shots to begin understanding how your ﬂash will react in different lighting situations. changing the ﬂash exposure each time (make sure you allow time for your ﬂash to fully recharge between shots).7EV. In this shot. but there’s detail in them Light 25 . we reduced the normal ﬂash output by 1. Head outside on a clear day. Start with a regular ﬂash exposure. Do this for each of the three subjects.
you don’t want the ﬁll-in light to be too subtle. To achieve more of a surreal quality in an outdoor shot. The combination of lighting from two directions lifts this shot. try underexposing the ambient light (spot meter a mid-tone in the background and reduce the exposure by 0. 26 Light . A well-balanced ﬂash-lit portrait taken against a clear blue sky can look stunning. while the burst of ﬂash brings the exposure on the face and body in shadow back to the correct level.7EV to 1EV as starting point).Shoot into the sun Automatic balanced ﬁll-in modes on ﬂashes come into their own when you’re shooting into the sun. This will make your ﬂash-exposed foreground subject ‘pop’ from its surroundings. Watch out for overexposure on pale skin tones when the sitter’s wearing black clothes. for instance.. or you’ll end up with an underexposed main subject. Here. It’s also worth seeking out a situation where you can isolate a backlit person against a shadowy area – their rimlit hair and skin will appear to glow against the dark background (be wary of the camera being tricked into overexposure by such a backdrop).
you might want to produce a more natural blend of ﬂash-lit foreground subject and a background lit by tungsten or ﬂuorescent lighting. Any white balance adjustments will then affect the whole image. In this case. tungsten. place a piece of orange colour-correcting ﬁlm over the front of it. You might like this effect though. you’ll need to place a strip of orange warming gel (for tungsten) or green gel (for ﬂuorescent) over your ﬂash. daylight and ﬂash providing an ‘intriguing’ mix of green. Depending on the location. You can then select the matched white balance preset on the camera and both light sources will be ‘corrected’ at the same time. you could end up with ﬂuorescent.Boost an interior The main problem you’ll encounter when it comes to shooting interior shots is the mixture of light that’s usually present. There again. orange and blue light (depending on your selection of white balance). To help ﬂash blend in well with such a ‘warm’ scene. Light 27 .
He also used the low light of evening and dawn to introduce a sense of movement.Master of light Chris Johns hris is the new editor of National Geographic magazine. specialising in dramatic images of the natural world. to retain sharpness in key areas. Chris has a new challenge at National Geographic. He’s well known for his images of Africa. Although to the untrained eye it’s hard to tell in the ﬁnal photographs. combining slow shutter speeds with a burst of ﬂash. He’s the editor who’ll guide the magazine into the digital age. but before he joined the management team there he spent 17 years as a contributing photographer. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on the results… C 28 Light . mounting an amber ﬁlter in a soft box to blend the ﬂash with the warm glow of a ﬁre when shooting local villagers for instance. where he frequently mixed ambient light with ﬂash. because he did so in subtle ways. and in particular those taken at low light levels.
The image feels alive. gathering by the ﬁre for a night of ritual dancing. Look for more of Chris Johns’ work at www. Light 29 . nationalgeographic.Here’s a fantastic shot of Bushman tribespeople in Namibia.com. It’s full of contrasts – cool blue sky and warm ﬁrelight. blurred motion and frozen fragments.
to make it a little brighter than mid-tone. all you’ve got to do is position your camera so that the subjects you’ll be capturing as silhouettes aren’t merging or obscuring each other – the most successful shots work because the individual shapes are distinct. First up. don’t feel you have to immediately start charging up your ﬂash – it has the potential to really spoil the mood of a shot. and you’ll be able to continue taking photos using natural light for longer than you might imagine. Increase the saturation of the colours to make a scene come alive. Following that. Make sure your metering pattern’s set to Spot (Multi-segment metering patterns will generally attempt to increase the exposure and bring detail back into the subject you’re trying to render as a silhouette). then open up 1EV from that reading.Dealing with low light W hen light levels start to fall. Stop down the aperture to induce slow shutter speeds and capture movement as a blur. 30 Light . or be prepared to make use of its AE Lock feature when you’re in Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. Experiment with increasing the exposure level of a shot made at low ambient light levels. Take a reading from an area of the sky which seems fairly light in tone (try near the horizon). switch your camera’s exposure mode to Manual. Pick the right subject and get creative. Shoot a silhouette There are two key things you need to think about when trying to shoot a silhouette – where you’re going to meter from and where you’re going to position your subject. to restore its brightness (be wary of LCD monitors which make the image appear brighter than it actually is – always check the histogram).
Light 31 .
But when things are moving? Time to get creative. Make sure you include a combination of stationary and moving objects to provide the contrast that makes pictures come alive. Mount your camera on a tripod to ensure it’s rock-steady throughout those long exposure times. opting for those ‘artistic’ studies of motion and colour. Watch your distance though – subjects closer to the lens will require a faster shutter speed to freeze some of their motion 32 Light .Slow it down There’ll be times when the light levels drop so low that you’ve got no option but to work with really slow shutter speeds. even when you’re shooting at your lens’ widest aperture. Try panning with the movement – and keep at least one part of a subject reasonable sharp and discernable in the blurred area to provide a place for your viewers to jump in (and out) of the image. Not a problem if your camera’s mounted to a sturdy tripod and you’re shooting scenes where there’s no movement.
Your subject will appear to move backwards if you don’t. it’s sure to become the ﬂash mode you’ll reach for more than any other.Add slow sync ﬂash Although a burst of ﬂash can ruin some shots taken in low light levels – resulting in the classic underexposed background and rabbitcaught-in-the-headlights look of a subject within the range of your ﬂash – once it’s married to a slow sync mode. it’s worth combining this with slow sync to allow the blurred image captured by the slow shutter speed to trail behind the sharp image frozen by the ﬂash. It becomes a case of biting the bullet – shoot lots of frames. Some ﬂashes can drop below their sync speed (usually 1/60 sec) as a default. so it’s hard to judge where your subject will be when the ﬂash is triggered. Light 33 . This mode allows the natural light to register an exposure on your camera’s sensor – including any blurred movement – along with a moment frozen in time by the burst of ﬂash. Once you discover how slow sync mode can transform your photography. You won’t be able to see through the viewﬁnder while the shutter’s open during the long exposure. it can provide an incredibly atmospheric exposure. If your ﬂash unit – either a built-in one or external dedicated one – has a rear curtain sync mode. The only problem with this mode is that it becomes harder to capture the peak of the action – particularly if you’re panning with a moving subject. others you’ll have to manually set to slow sync – you need to read your manual to know how your ﬂash will react.
Adjust the exposure according to the sitter’s skin tone (open up for lighter skin. The key is not to trust your meter in this situation.Candlelight and ﬁrelight The glow of a ﬂame gives you a soft. This will introduce movement and blur to the ﬂames. warm light which is perfect for creating atmospheric portraits. If you’re photographing someone by candlelight. Remember to mount your camera on a tripod… Cheer up. while the logs or coals underneath remain still. be sure to include all or part of the ﬂame in the picture – that way it won’t look like a white balance ‘error’ on your behalf. Instead. Mount your camera on a tripod to prevent camera shake as well. son! At least he’s adopted a pose that he can hold for a long period of time – photography by candlelight means slow exposures. you’ll need to increase the ISO to 800 or 1600 and open the aperture wide to get a fast enough shutter speed to stop any subject movement. it can create an interesting effect if you select a small aperture and slow shutter speed (work in Aperture priority to let the camera select a corresponding shutter speed). move in close to your sitter and take a meter reading off their face – once you’ve positioned the candle in such a way that it’s not causing ugly shadowing across their features. close down for darker skin) and recompose your shot. even with wide-open apertures. If shooting a portrait by candlelight. If you’ve got a large area of darkness in the frame it could fool your camera into increasing the exposure. When shooting ﬁres. 34 Light . Be careful not to block any of the candlelight hitting them or take a reading from an area in shadow.
Light 35 .
and beyond that still. spotlit by the sun. While the sun’s low on the horizon. light against shadow – building up layers which lead you through a picture. deep shadows to reach out over the land. I Add depth Just like placing contrasting shapes. 36 Light . Think in terms of contrasting bright against dark. its raking light causes long. Unlike a portrait. so to will the inclusion of contrasting light. it’s the play of light and dark caused by strong sidelighting which adds texture and form to landscapes. where you’re usually working to remove shadows. A well lit foreground subject set against a dark. It can help give your landscape photographs an effective sense of depth – to give the 2D image captured on your camera’s sensor a three dimensional quality. Imagine beyond that dark area is another band of hills. you’re going to have to wait for the ‘right light’. Unlike close-up work. where you can control and manipulate the light to suit the subject. hills in shadow. You need to be prepared to wait – and you might well ﬁnd that your most meaningful shots are taken when every other photographer has packed up and gone home. It’s this process of layering the light that leads your eye easily though a picture. there’s no way you can control the lighting over the large area of land. colours and sizes of subjects in the same frame can yield some of the most exciting photographs.Light on the landscape f you want to capture the spirit of a landscape. brooding background can create an air of tension.
Look for balance With strong sidelighting. or does it help balance the area in shadow with the bright strip on the horizon? You’ll need to make these decisions quickly – light of this quality doesn’t tend to last long. as exhibited in this picture here. you need to pay careful consideration to the composition. warm sidelighting.Look for landscapes scarred by ridges and grooves to make the most of rich. The deep shadows created can overwhelm a shot if they’re not balanced well with brighter areas of an image. or when it’s removed? Is it a distraction. bright area of rock on the bottom-left of this shot with your thumb – does the composition look better with it in place. Light 37 . Cover up the small.
Cityscapes can prove immensely rewarding to shoot during the morning or evening. We spot-metered off the brickwork in sunlight. 38 Light .6 crop factor). In this shot. Find windows reﬂecting the cooler sky contrasting against brickwork bathed in the sun’s warm light. rotated the camera to ﬁnd a dynamic angle and zoomed in to exclude distracting elements (lamposts.Light up the city Don’t simply head for the country or coast when great light’s available. shadows become the driving compositional element. mainly). Look for the low sidelighting and long shadows to give structures shape and form at this time of day. Isolate details with a medium telephoto zoom (something which a maximum reach of around 200mm should meet most needs when mounted on cameras with a 1.
Reducing the exposure by a total of 1. Take this series of shots above. Light 39 .3EV for the third shot has ensured the rocks have now returned to a brightness level which matches the way the scene appeared to our eyes. Master Exposure. see our previous guide. We reduced the exposure by 0. For more exposure solutions. This results in any brighter areas of the scene picked out by the sun becoming grossly overexposed and losing all detail. The third image provides a more usable start-point for imageprocessing. although the second one would likely provide a better result if you print directly from the camera. The rocks on the right side of the image are burnt out where the camera’s given more exposure bias to the shadowed area. all those shadows are likely to fool your camera into overexposing – it will try to make the dark shadows closer to mid-tone in value.The trouble with sidelighting We’ve seen that sidelighting provides excellent modelling for landscapes and buildings. with no adjustment to the metered value (1/160 at f/9). The only problem is. if you shoot these scenes using a multi-segment or centreweighted metering pattern. The ﬁrst one was shot using multi-segment metering in Aperture priority. Again.7EV for the second shot. the large rock at the base of the steps is too ‘hot’.
Offset them against a dark background to maximise the effect. angle yourself towards the light – backlighting makes raindrops sparkle. If it was shot on a bright day. for instance. Take this coastal shot.Capture the elements If it’s raining heavily. Instead. it’s best to ﬁre off several frames in quick succession. select a shutter speed of around 1/125 sec or faster – opt for 1/60 sec or slower to render them as streaks of light. then check the LCD monitor to judge the best arrangement of drops/lines. it can also be used in more subtle ways. As it is. 40 Light . although there’s no rimlighting or glow. the focus of the picture would be more on the image in the background. As with most ‘action’ shots. the overcast day has created the perfect light for this striking graphic image. rather than the individual parts. Look for quite moments While backlighting can be loud and attentiongrabbing. the strength of the shot comes from the whole. If you want to freeze the drops. It would lose its power if there was any more discernable detail in the silhouetted rocks. It’s backlit.
Light 41 .
A polarizer will help reduce glaring surface reﬂections on the water on a sunny day. They bring the land to life. in order to add interest. 42 Light . But on a gloomy day.Shoot water Seek out rivers. it’s those very highlights that you’re trying to preserve. lakes and pools when shooting landscapes. streams.
Invest in a neutral density graduated ﬁlter. Light 43 . The reﬂection will be darker than the sky – an ND grad will help you balance the exposure. Avoid over-ﬁltering though – start with a 1-stop grad.
you’ll begin to gain a deeper understanding of how light. Take away the colour You’ll begin getting a bigger appreciation of the role light plays in photography if you start seeing the world in black and white. then try using that knowledge on an entirely different subject. Without the distraction of colour. shadow and composition are the building blocks of the most successful photographs. but convert them to black and white on your computer later (then you’ve always got the option of returning to the colour original). What is in sunlight in the morning could well be in shadow by the afternoon. Continue to take images as colour ones in-camera. Identify what it is that you like about the way the light and shadow work together in your best images. Find the view that pleases you most and stick with it – and don’t be satisﬁed with the ﬁrst frame you make. Seasonally. the quality and colour of light can vary dramatically. 44 Light . but it also changes on a much smaller scale. Over just half an hour at dawn or dusk. the light will be drastically different.Be persistent Don’t resist returning to a promising photographic location over time in order to capture the scene under different lighting conditions.
Light 45 .
a group of 60 world-class photographers who share their knowledge and passion for photography through seminars and personal appearances. where interested parties can learn about digital capture. They also get to use the latest Canon EOS kit. He specialises in photography of the natural world and has been at the forefront of the digital revolution – he’s the founder and director of the Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging in California. image-editing and printing. Lepp ne of the most proliﬁc phographers in the United States. O 46 Light .Master of light George D. He’s one of Canon’s ‘Explorers of Light’. George Lepp has been capturiing breathtaking images with his camera and lecturing on photographic techniques for over three decades.
But this leapt out at us.com.Trying to select an image which typiﬁes George’s approach to capturing light is a hard process – a man who’s been a top-class image maker for over 30 years tends to build up a vast collection of stunning photographs. It just screams LIGHT! See more of George’s impressive images at lepphoto. Light 47 .
48 Light .
USE REFLECTORS You’ll get more natural results if you use a reﬂector to ﬁll-in detail. 6 7 8 9 10 WATCH YOUR METER Your camera can be fooled by unusual lighting conditions. ADD LIGHT IN FOG When shooting mist or fog. KEEP SILHOUETTES SIMPLE Make sure you retain the distinctive shape of a subject – don’t let it bleed into other silhouettes. BE PERSISTENT Inspiring views deserve inspiring light – don’t be satisﬁed until you get it. Master 1 2 3 4 5 BRING OUT COLOURS Shoot saturated colours such as autumn foliage on an overcast or cloudy-bright day. Light 49 .Light Top 10 tips.. rather than reaching for a ﬂashgun. Spot meter for total control. RISE EARLY. AVOID FLARE Shield the front element of your lens with your hand when shooting into the sun. GO SLOW When shooting in low light. STAY LATE The golden hours around dawn and dusk are when the light tends to be the most exciting. ADD FLASH SUBTLY Avoid the ‘overﬂashed’ look – reduce your ﬂash output when shooting in daylight.. combine a slow shutter speed with a burst of ﬂash for interesting results. increase your exposure by 1EV to bring back the brightness.
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