Choosing The Right Light To Shoot In January 20 2008, 0 Comments

I was once in a printing workshop, where the instructor looked at an image that I had taken. Without asking me at what time of day the image was shot and where, he told me I had color correction work to do before I could print. To humor this relatively well known photographer, I did what he asked, but never printed the image with the “color corrections.”

The image was of a grouping of boats in the water along the shores of Maine before dawn on a foggy morning. This natural set up meant that the image had a bluish cast to it. It was beautiful and soft, but clearly not an image taken in the day light or in the setting light of the summer sun. The colors were cool and not meant to be bright or even exact as the lack of light was a part of the image. What the instructor had asked me to do changed the entire character of the image, not at all true to the actual scene where I had taken the image.

I have known many photographers who try to get other photographers to subscribe to their vision of an image. But this usually is self-serving rather than teaching another photographer how to find his or her own vision.

I almost always shoot in the early morning light. I have become accustomed to it. I find the stillness in the hours before the world is fully awakened to be the peaceful solitude I require to see the light and the images in the light. I also shoot in the morning light because the light tends to be more even, and sharp shadows are not a concern. The combination of colors, subject matter and calm make beautiful images.

As a photographer, your job is to decide what kind of light you want to shoot in. Learn what the colors of the day are, knowing that if you shoot in the low light of the dawn your colors will be a bit more cool. If you shoot in the late day or the setting sun, your colors will be warmer. Try shooting at various times of the day to get a look at shadows. Some shadows can add wonderful contrast to an image, while other shadows merely are a distraction. Choose a light you are comfortable working in. Decide what the goal is for the image…what do you want it to look like when you have the completed print in hand?? Don’t depend on imaging software to create the image after the fact. Good photography is shot in the field. Develop your eye and work in a variety of lighting conditions so that you can find your vision.