Copyright Scott Bourne 2003 - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Scott Bourne 2003 - All Rights Reserved

Photography is all about creating with light. If you don’t have good light – you don’t have a good picture. Understanding, recognizing and finding great light should be something that literally haunts every serious photographer.

I’ve written here before about the principles of light.

Direction – Color and Quality are the three aspects of light you need to understand. Here’s a reminder:

Color – all daylight comes in different colors. At Noon it’s white and at sunset its red or orange. Knowing which color of light you’ll use dictates the mood of the photo.

Quality – specular, broad, soft, high contrast larger the light source softer it is.

So what should you do with this knowledge? Why is it important? We live in a three dimensional world and work in a two dimensional media. For photographers, we define what we see by shadows and highlights and that’s controlled by the direction of light. In a perfect world, we’d always try to match subject to the right kind of light.

For instance, landscapes look great in side light because of direction shows texture because of quality undiffused color red. People on the other hand look better in softer, rounder, more diffuse light. You don’t want harsh specular light to be the sole light on a portrait. When it comes to color of light for a portrait both landscapes and people tend to look better slightly warmer than neutral.

There’s nothing earth-shattering here. I just thought that I should touch on this topic again. Remember these basics when you’re composing your images. Not only do you need to think about background and subject, you need to think about the direction, color and quality of light.

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