Light is everything
We always start our photography courses with the words 'light is everything', and there is a good reason for that. When you look at things closely, light actually is everything. Without light, we cannot see, without light, we cannot take pictures. So, for a photographer, how you handle light is essential. The ability to read light and use it in your own photography is one of the most important skills, whether you are a professional photographer or just a keen amateur.
If light is everything, it begs the question as to why light is so important, or, to put it another way, what is it that light actually does. Put simply: Light creates the mood in a picture. Without the right light, we sometimes cannot display the subject as we want to. So, it's worth taking a closer look at the subject of light.
The colour of light – mystical or scenic
Any keen photographer will come across the terms 'the golden hour' and 'the blue hour' at some point. Both these light effects occur twice a day, assuming there is a clear sky. The blue hour occurs in the morning before the sun rises above the horizon. The world is bathed in blueish light, making the landscape look eerie and mystical. As soon as the sun climbs above the horizon, there is a dramatic change in the light colour. The blue light disappears, its place taken by a golden yellow light to create a scenic mood. Perfect for landscape pictures and portraits. In the evening, the light changes the other way around. The golden hour occurs just before sunset, which is then followed by the blue hour. But you do have to wait a little longer in the evening. The blue hour does not immediately follow the golden hour. But this does have its advantages. After all, once the sun has disappeared below the horizon, most tourists tend to head off. Leaving just the photographers. It is worth the wait. In general, it is worth taking pictures at both times, as the subject can often appear very different in different light.
One last thing: Despite their names, neither the blue hour nor the golden hour really lasts an hour. They are normally just a few minutes long. But this varies a lot as you approach the equator. It pays to be prepared. We recommend the PhotoPills app. It provides information about how long the golden and blue hours will last.
Avoid the midday sun
Having described the wonderful light scenarios above, it is also worth quickly mentioning the opposite. The most unattractive lighting for photography occurs during the daytime, specifically in the midday sun. The bright sunlight makes for shots which lack atmosphere. The colours look dull and pale, the shadows are harsh and there is often not a single cloud in the sky. For many beginner photographers, these can seem like the perfect conditions. But it is much more attractive when the weather is changeable.
The light is at its loveliest before or after a storm.
Admittedly, nobody likes being rained on. But sometimes that is exactly what you need to do to get a fantastic shot. Because the light is normally at its loveliest before or after a storm. When the clouds tear apart for a moment and the sun's rays break through the blanket of clouds. The weather can change very rapidly, especially in coastal regions. A dream for photographers. And another reason why, for example, the Isle of Skye in Scotland is as popular as it is.
Light in a supporting role
It is often falsely assumed that light is most important for landscape photography. But the same also applies to portraits. We once took pictures in a temple in Myanmar. The resulting photos were remarkably atmospheric. Not least because of the light. Of course, we knew exactly what time of day we would have to take pictures in the temple to capture the rays of sun poking through the opening in the temple wall. The images would not be so powerful without the light. So, it is important for photographers who focus on portraits to think carefully about the lighting and play with the interaction between light and shadow.
Night-time is not without its charm
The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself. But in this case, we are making an exception and trusting a statistic that says only around 15 per cent of all photographers take pictures at night. It seems logical at first glance, as there is not much light at night. But everyone should still try night-time photography. In the city, for example, you never know what the effects will be like on the image. Clouds can be illuminated by the radiant light, bathing the resulting shot in a wonderful light. Or you can use the technique of time exposure to practice light painting. You can use sparklers, or simply the display on your mobile phone. The results of light painting are always surprising, and it is a form of photography which works well in a group with other photographers.
Light is a massive subject. But investigating it is worthwhile for anyone who enjoys photography. It is also fascinating that the light is different in different parts of the world. For example, we love the light at sunrise across the desert in Namibia. But you can also find really special light in Australia, or Chile. As a photographer, you are always rediscovering light. So, we wish you “good light” and much fun taking pictures.
Journey Glimpse consist of Steffi and Stefan. Beach holidays were never really their kind of thing. They’d rather be in the streets or on the steppe, in the jungle or a nearby village. There where they can come into contact with other cultures, plants or animals – and experience this from up close. That’s how you get exciting travel stories full of impressive moments. And of course they can’t forget to take a camera with them – so that they can capture every single moment within an image. Steffi and Stefan, two professional photographers through and through, chase after just the right light and combine this with stunning landscapes. Photos with a depth that they love. At journeyglimpse.com, they write about their travels, give expert photography tips, and more besides.
Photo and travel blog: www.journeyglimpse.com
Stefan's portfolio: www.stefantschumi.photography
Our training platform: www.creatorspath.net