Tuesday, March 22, 2022

AYWMC: Part 3 Lesson 2: Quality of Light

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

Overcast morning

Overcast morning

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.


Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

On the whole, I find indoor lighting hard to deal with than outdoor light, mostly because of the reflections.

Also, the goat bottoms are very cute!

Leigh said...

TB, I agree that indoor lighting is hard. Either because of the reflections, or because not enough light hits the camera's sensor and I don't get the clarity I'd like. I think this is where professionals get into some rather elaborate lightning set-ups, but maybe at some point I'll learn some tips for us non-professionals! I'll pass them on if I do!