What’s the main difference between these 4 shots ?
Same scene, same period, same camera, same point of view, same lens, same tog. Only the light is different : top-ish & diffuse, from the right, from the left, dull. The effect on the golden trees and the hills in the background is profound.
Which do you prefer ?
The answer to that question will say a lot more about you than about the photographs, each a very straightforward 85mm shot with minimal post-processing. You could be drawn to the calm, muted colours of the overcast day or by the vibrant sunset light of the photograph above it. But the morning light at bottom-left is just as vibrant on the trees, yet more serene and delicate in the rest of the frame. And the first might just be the more natural and Zen-like.
It’s hard to be satisfied with your photography if you don’t have a handle on the sort of light you appreciate. Yes, it’s pretty obvious that almost everyone will be wowed by a stunning sunrise over a pink desert but not everyone will want to make that sort of photograph. Or be able to. If you have young kids and a job, forget golden hour, that’s feeding time. If your gear isn’t very good at reproducing faithful, subtle colours (accusations will remain nameless, but just look at the weird greens in the bottom-right pic, above) you’ll probably be served better by lighting that makes all colours quite bold and uniform.
If you’re using a Smartphone (as the 3 above), light conditions are particularly important as the contrast of the scene will determine the phone’s ability to record anything in shadows and highlights.
If you want to convey mood, post-processing options relating to light will make or break the final photograph.
The aim of this project is :
(1) to convey a better understanding of the characteristics of light and their impact on your images.
(2) to provide a vocabulary for you to analyse photographs you love, yours or someone else’s, in order to better understand how they were made and direct your practise towards that.
Knowing your tastes and abilities is 90% of the work. For instance, I never shoot sunrises or sunsets. They simply don’t appeal to me as a shooting experience. But then, Paul sends this along and it makes me rethink my position on this because the lower contrast here lets the strong colours play a much larger role than in my usual high contrast personal work.
Why a collaborative project ?
(1) It’s more fun! Interacting with you guys is more fun than just writing in a vacuum.
(2) A greater variety of photographs. Most of the ones that follow, I’d never had made.
(3) A greater variety of experience and ideas. I’m an avid reader but experience trumps everything. And the recent discussions we’ve had with contributors to this project have already reveal several ideas that would never have entered my mind.
(4) Collective intelligence and collaboration will save us from the coming evils. That’s my political side talking. Most of my career is built on trying to understand future trends. And several of these trends will require us to think together and to collaborate to thrive. Why not start here, in a fun context? 🙂
What happens next ?
We now have images (those on this page and many more) and ideas. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting articles that develop these ideas, illustrated by the photographs.
We’ll be covering light itself (it’s quality and characteristics), the position of the subject relative to the light source, exposure, post processing, and a few tips and tricks you might not have thought about (I certainly wouldn’t if some of these photographs hadn’t landed in my lap) …
If there are topics about light that you think we may be missing, this is your chance to speak up (in the comments) before it’s too late 🙂
And in the end ?
“The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
When all the articles we have are published, we’ll create a dedicated index page and link to it from a resource page to provide a complete package for anyone to use.
And then we’ll move on to other projects (with the possibility of updating on the fly if we feel something new needs to be said).
That’s it ! (for now).
The images on this page give you a taste of what to expect throughout the articles.
THANKS a lot to all who have contributed such impressive work and interesting ideas !!! Onwards.
So, whadjathink ?
Interested ? Are we missing anything ?
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Great shots. Very inspirational subject!
Thanks a lot Georg. I hope the final result lives up to your expectations 🙂
If you’re interested I can send some Color IR images from here in Ohio. They would be completely different.
Oh yes please 😉 I look forward to it !
A great collection of beautiful photography. It is difficult for me to choose a favorite or two but I’m going to try. First, the middle shot of John Wilson’s b&w street photography. I love the character study of the man with the umbrella. I’m always drawn to street photography showing umbrellas on rainy days… especially in b&w. This one has great contrast, composition and an interesting subject.
And, Two, the twilight (probably just before sunrise) shot by Valerie Millet in Death Valley. I know the photo location isn’t identified as Death Valley but I have followed Valerie’s work for some time and know where she roams. Valerie’s work always has a subtle emotional quality to it that appeals to me. I have one of her gallery wraps of The Badlands on the wall behind where I’m sitting now.
I’ll be looking forward to the future articles from this series.
WOW – some of the finest shots I’ve ever seen on DS!
A special thank you to Bob Hamilton for making water look like water – yeah, I know, we’re all supposed to take shots like that on long exposure at ISO 25 with a 2 cm thick ND, but it all ends up looking as if the waterfalls are custard pouring over the top, and the sea is a giant skating rink.
Pascal – only this morning, I slept downstairs on the day bed in my study, so I wouldn’t disturb my wife – set the alarm on my cellphone for 4:15AM (see? – I CAN use a cellphone for photography!), and when the alarm went, grabbed the D810 with the Otus 55mm and took two photos. One, looking away from sunrise (actually it was the blue light), with the orange glow of the sodium vapour floodlights on the wharves in the harbour colouring the sky on the horizon – simply yet another of the series of shots I’ve been taking for a year or more, looking down my own street, capturing completely different lighting effects. And the other – while I was strolling back home, the sun started to illuminate the clouds on the horizon – several strips of crimson, best colour I’ve seen in a sunrise for ages – a final quarter moon, in the sky above the scene – and just as I raised the camera to my eye, an early morning delivery van (just made a drop to a local restaurant in my street) roared around the corner and gave the empty street a sudden unexpected bit of added interest.
And I HATE getting out of bed before 8AM.
Hours later, as I emerged to walk the dog, I noticed that with a bit of warmer weather the rich blue of the sky had been obliterated, there was a white haze appearance to the scene I usually shoot in the street. Having set out to study the effects of different light on the same scene, when I started this project, I never cease to be amazed by “difference” in the lighting. As some series of photos in this article in DS clearly show. As Monet’s series of haystack paintings showed to the world, all those years ago.
For me, this is the stuff that lifts us all out of the rut. People don’t get photos like the ones illustrating this article without having suitable gear, a passionate interest in photography, a sound knowledge of the medium, a fair amount of physical effort (in most cases), the “eye”, and a lot of planning. Once or twice in a lifetime you might jag some of these shots as a complete amateur, by pure chance – but these guys are showing they can keep producing such quality images, and the “pure chance” brigade will go to their maker holding one miserable attempt at decent photography.
Those 4 first photos, you can’t really compare them, they all have different motifs,
1) the hills, the far off landscape,
2) the autumn colours,
3) the mood of sunrise/sunset,
4) the weather.
– – –
Enjoying all those varied good photos!
“Let there be Light” shouldn’t be about comparing.
But I can’t help applauding Valerie Millet for showing that Simple is stronger. And it’s hard to find and to execute.
Yes, Valerie Millet is very talented. Simplicity is indeed very difficult if it is to be achieved without losing all meaning. She balances that beautifully.
Good stuff and looking forward to the next episode. Great photos. You just put me a curiosity: what do you think is weird with the greens in the upper-right photo?
That black cat is probably the best cat image I’ve seen on the whole internet. Congrats, Adam.
Btw. The white flower is not mine. Probably Philippe?
Ehm … yeah … what I am missing is a time frame, sort of. We collected some ideas, shared some concepts, wrote some names behind topics … How do we proceed? What’s next?
Luna tells me that she’s the best cat on or off the internet 🙂
You may notice that she’s balancing on a wall which has a two storey drop to her left… it was one of those ‘Hmm should I get her down or take a photo’ moments.
The photo won 🙂
Rightly so. You can always buy another cat but that photo opportunity …
OK, I’ll shut up now ;D
It’s better than that Pascal,
People tend to give cats away, so there’s not even a replacement cost involved 😀
(Only joking, we’re all fond of the cat, especially our daughter)
No, you can’t buy another cat!
( Grr… )
( But trying to get it down might well have endangered it more.)
Merry Christmas Pascal!
And to you All!
And to the cat!
Thanks Kristian, Merry Christmas to you too 🙂
(I **love** cats and would never harm one on purpose, btw)
that *was* rather obvious from your choice of words, hence my :-).
I wanted to make the point that you – and Adam – were right,
but for the reason that cats often resent help.
I understood that you wanted feedback on what might be missing when you presented the images.
But you covered any weather (and lighting) condition i could think of. Also time of year and time of day. Direct, indirect, reflected (mirror, water, whatever) light, its all there. You have to write about interaction of light and shadow as well and i bet you will. Artificial light is rarely seen in the set so i guess you will concentrate on natural lighting scenarios in your final article. These images alone can help someone to understand the power of light 🙂 looking forward to this.
Thanks Elderin. I’m actually a bit late on that project (work work work) but will get to it soon. All the best.