I've decided to write a series of posts about light. Studying the light may sound pretty simple, but sometimes we forget to pay close attention to it. Sometimes we forget to search for the perfect subject for the light available to us instead of just waiting for the "best" light to show up, which may not even happen. Photography is first and foremost about light. Without it, we have no photograph. 

I dedicate this first post to the difference between sunlight and shade. I took these two images months ago and while I never processed them until now, I kept them in my files knowing that they'd make for a great example of how different something can look as the light changes. The first image was taken with an overcast sky. Moments later, the sun came out. Compare the two. 

Notice in the above image taken in shade, that the image lacks contrast and depth. Even still, the diffused light gives the flowers a soft and pleasing feel while retaining detail in the darkest shadows and brightest highlights.

Now look at the image taken in direct sunlight. The image has increased contrast but almost to the point of losing highlight detail in the leaves. They're casting a rather distracting shadow on the flower petals which is something I'd like to avoid. It almost seems as if I've moved but I assure you the only thing that changed was my shutter speed to account for the change in exposure. The flowers now stand out from the bark and appear more three dimensional...but I still don't like those shadows. 

So what's the point? Just be aware of how the light is affecting your subject. If the light isn't perfect, perhaps it's time to find another subject or move to another position in which the light hits your subject at a better angle. Remember, there is no such thing as "bad light", simply the wrong light for the subject. When you set out to photograph the sunset and the sky doesn't cooperate, photograph something else that looks good in overcast light so you don't go home empty handed. 

Just for kicks, I processed (finally) the image taken in shade. I added a good deal of contrast and then brought the image into Topaz Impression for a painterly look. Click on the link at the bottom of any of my pages to go directly to Topaz Labs.

Best of Light!  And I wish everybody who celebrates it, a Happy Thanksgiving!


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