It’s all about the light.

It is all about the light

guest post by Derek Cummings – Silver Member of Academy of Photography

I talked about golden light in my last article, and while it is true there are photographers that will not consider taking a shot outside the ‘golden hour’, for many amateur photographers this option is not possible.

Some like me are not early risers, many have to be home with family during the evening when the light is at its best in summer. Even so we must realise our craft is all about light. And realise the impact light has on what we, as photographers, are capturing. Different light created by the movement of the sun, clouds in the sky, ever-changing shadows, hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute, alters the impact of the scene in front of us.

brixham

If you have never done so, as an exercise for this week visit the same spot every day. In various weather conditions. With different light. And take a shot of your chosen outdoor subject. Try to vary the time of day. You will hopefully be amazed by how very different your shots appear. Don’t forget to take a note of the conditions you experience on each day of your visit for comparison.

To me the hardest, and worse time to take images is midday, during summer, when the sun is shining very bright from a blue sky. Walk around any tourist spot and you will notice many with a compact camera or mobile phone taking images of whatever takes their fancy, or family posing with happy smiles during what to them is perfect weather. While for many of us that are truly serious about our photography this really is the time to put the camera away and take a lunch break while we wait until the sun starts to dip lower in the sky. Because the midday sun creates harsh shadows while bleaching out the colours. Although I admit there maybe a few shots when harsh shots are called for, they will be few and far between.

Most new photographers when rain falls, or dull lifeless skies appear from above. Put their camera away and forget about any sort of outdoor photography. But with a little thought you can get some of your best shots during times of cloudy skies. Uniform cloud is a great light diffuser. The light will be even. With the bonus being colours will appear more vibrant in your shots. Time therefore to take your camera for a shoot on a less than ideal weather day and enjoy a day of taking great images.

Some of the best images are taken shortly before, or after a storm. Angry skies are much more interesting than blue skies. Do remember though most camera’s are not waterproof and need protection against the elements. Be it sand blowing on a beach, or water from the sky. It is fine to cut out an old plastic bag to protect your camera, but far better to do as I have and buy a reasonably inexpensive Storm Jacket. If you google ‘photographic storm jacket’ you will find plenty of outlets to sell you one, and have a convenient long lasting product to protect your camera.

The picture with this article was taken in Brixham, Devon, UK during mid May 2013. There was light rain falling with no wind. My wife acted as my assistant, holding an umbrella over me to protect the camera, allowing me to take the image. The shot was taken near to noon a month before the summer solstice with an ISO of 200 using aperture priority of F11. What struck me was the colours of the buildings in front, allowing me to take this picture postcard image. An image that could not be replicated in the midday sun.

Next time you look out the window and see nothing but grey. Please take your camera and practice shooting in them conditions. I am sure you will be in for a pleasant surprise.

Derek Cummings
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