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 ?
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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