This post is part of a series entitled A Year With My Camera.
Lesson 3.2 in my own words
- Quality of light refers to how hard or soft it is
- Hard light is direct and casts distinct, contrasting shadows
- Soft light is indirect or filtered, and casts indistinct, often unnoticeable shadows
- Light quality is a spectrum
- Preference for quality of light is subjective
- To determine, examine the shadows
- Is the eye drawn to the subject or the shadow?
- To change hard light to soft light for a single subject (eg. a flower), add an overall shadow (such as a hand) to soften harsh shadows
This week's project
Make a study of shadows without using the flash.
- Range of hard to soft
- Natural and artificial light
- Naturally occurring and create your own
- Experiment with different diffusers (something placed between light and subject to diffuse the light)
|Bright sunny day, late morning
|Early afternoon on a bright sunny day
|Late afternoon on a sunny day.
|Late afternoon on a sunny day
|Natural daylight from a window
|Natural window light + overhead electric light
|Light from the window + nearby electric table lamp
|Daylight through the windows + overhead kitchen light
|Combination of hard and soft shadows
|In the barn before sunrise
What I learned
I've always been aware of how light affects a potential photograph. I've never liked bright harsh daylight and prefer outdoor photographing on overcast days. Even with drawing, I focus on where the light hits the subject and adjust the shadowing to feature the light. This assignment asked me to concentrate on shadows. Shadows became the subject matter and it caused me to look at light a bit differently.
Other things I observed that affect shadows:
- The time of day.
- The type of indoor lighting (natural or artificial). One thing I notice about this is the color of the light. Artificial lights are warmer in tone.
- Number of sources of light. For example, the double shadows from the wineglass stem. One light source was the window, the other was the ceiling light.
Now that my attention has been drawn to shadows, I realize what interesting things they are.