15 June 2013

Quality of Light

I like to tell people that the light more than any other factor influences what and when I shoot. Which is very true, I shoot mostly in the mornings and the evenings not only because that is when my subjects are most active but also because that is when the light is at its best. But I change my plans if the light is not right for what I want to do. If I am going out to shoot birds in flight and I want nice bright light in order to get the fast shutter speeds I need to freeze the action, but it is cloudy. I will change the plan and shoot a subject that works better with the current lighting conditions.

For the next few weeks I am going to talk about the different types of light and how I like to use them. Being an optimist I am going to start off with good light. My favorite kind of light is high bright overcast, nice bright diffuse light. Light that is bright enough to cast a shadow, but a softened shadow that add depth to an image without all the contrast created by bright sun. The image accompanying this post would be a mess if the sun was out, there would be too much contrast. Each of the stalks of bergamot would cast a shadow that would wreak havoc in the image. This type of low-contrast light is great for bringing out the detail in your subject. The other thing I love about this type of light is you can shoot all day, because the mid-day light never gets too harsh.

The drawbacks to this type of light are the sky is usually white, so you really do not want to include the sky in your compositions because it just becomes a big white unattractive blob. Also there may not be enough light to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze fast action.

Good Luck and Good Light!


Image: White-tailed Doe in Bergamot, Kensington Metropark, MI