Look into the Light

We've previously said that the Most Important Thing is the Subject. The next Most Important Thing is...? Yes, you guessed it: Light.

Without Light our photos would be... well, actually, there wouldn't be photos. The Etymology of photography is "drawing with light". "Photo" coming from the Ancient Greek word for light.

However, without dark, we wouldn't have interesting photos either. Everything would look like snow on a foggy day. That's not life. Our lives are full of light and dark and colour and interesting shapes! We need the shadows to define the light.

High contrast.  Very bright and very dark, but the shapes provide definition.

High contrast.  Very bright and very dark, but the shapes provide definition.

There are three properties of Light that can help us make better photos:

The Quality of Light: Light that is harsh and creates shadows is hard light. Think brig1ht sunny day. Soft light is diffused and encompasses your subject evenly. Think overcast day, or the soft daylight from a window.

The Direction of Light: Where is the light coming from? How does it fall on your subject? Are there multiple light sources?  In the sample images on this page, can you figure out where the light is coming from?  (This might be a trick question, so look closely!)

Not the most glamorous subject, but the white loo-roll clearly demonstrates the blueish daylight vs the orange indoor light.

Not the most glamorous subject, but the white loo-roll clearly demonstrates the blueish daylight vs the orange indoor light.

The Colour of Light: Imagine a cool winters day with clear skies. Notice how the colour of the light seems very white, almost blue. Contrast that with a scorching summer sunset where the fiery orange light shimmers over your sumptuous subject in rays of splendour and spectacular luxuriousness. Okay, enough poetry! Different light sources, and even the atmosphere at different times of the year, produce different coloured light. Daylight is generally blueish or "cool". Man-made lights are generally - but not always - more orange or "warm".

Over the next few weeks we will explore each of these properties of light and how you can use them to your advantage in your photos.

"Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography." George Eastman

Your Challenge

Take a photo in a window. Not of a window. Use the light from the window to illuminate your subject.
Try a few different options where you leave the room's lights on and where you turn them off.