Understanding Light

If you want to better your photography it’s a good idea to figure out how to work with available light.   The best available light source is the sun and it’s every where so get to know how to work with it and you will be on your way to taking better pictures.  It took me a long time to figure out the best light to shoot portraits in and it can be hard to describe to people.

Soft Light can be found on cloudy days, under a tree or by a big building. Soft Light is best for portraits and still photography because it does not cause hard shadows on your subjects face and the shadows have nice soft edges. I took my kids stuffed animal outside on a cloudy day and shot Mr. Rabbit on the lawn.  My settings were the same for both pictures and my first image was full cloud coverage perfect for taking pictures.  It creates nice soft light  and does not cast any shadows my rabbit.  The second image I shot has some direct sunlight on Mr. Rabbit  it was patchy as the sun poked out in some spots. This caused some hard lighting on my bunny not very pleasant with portraits work.  It creates hard shadows under the eyes (raccoon eyes) of your subject or can cast shadows on your subjects face.  Another example was my son Cody we were at Edmonton’s Capital Ex and riding a ride.  The first shot I took was softer lighting because he was in the shadow of the Rides big structure.  The second he was fully exposed out in the sun. When your image had some hard lighting in it like number 2 of the bunny and we cannot fully see the whole picture because of the sun we call that imaged blown out.  We lost all the detail in those spots and we will never be able to get it back.  Some people call them hot spots or shiny spots.   The first image of Cody has a color cast being giving from the ride painted structure  but will touch on that later.


I also wanted to show you a beautifully exposed soft light image.  This picture is my oldest son Noah on a ride at the amusement park.  The canopy of the ride sheltered us from the hard light above but create some very beautiful soft light under it.  The light was bouncing back in and you can see no shadows on him. Plus I have to admit that he is a very handsome little boy.  But he is my son and mom’s are supposed to say that.  Right!!!

This image of Colby was shot in open sun.  This creates very hard lighting and you can see all the shadows on his face.  I pointed them out with some really cool purple arrows.  This image is exposed properly but not very desirable because of the shadows. Also when in full sun people squint but as you saw with my  shade picture people have  their eyes wide open like the one above. 

I hope this help you understand lighting a little better than what you did before.  Another tip if shooting in your home, move you kids to your big picture window of your home. Make sure it’s nice diffused light not fun sun streaming in and take picture there.  You will get better result than a dark room where you have to use a flash.
Warm Smiles

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