Light in Photography – Dr Jerry Hankins

Daylight Photography

Daylight Photography

Light is everything you see. Light is everything that is seen in a photograph. It is important to understand the direction of light, its degree of diffusion and other factors that go into making the perfect photograph.

Reading other’s photography can be very helpful. It is enjoyable and it can help you make smarter, ┬ámore deliberate decisions in your own photography. It’s quite simple and once you figure out the basics you can guess the setups and settings use by that photographer, analyze your own images, and continue to improve.

As in all things, one must understand the basics and master them. Any basic mistake made can make or break how a photograph, or a photographer’s professionalism is perceived. As a rule, direct light creates dark shadows that have hard edges. If there is a smaller source of light far away from your subject the harder those edges will be. Diffused light acts differently and may come from different directions and shadows may not exist at all. As an example, think of the difference between a sunny day where you have a well defined shadow and a cloudy day where light is essentially coming from all directions in the sky. Direct vs. diffused.

From a practical standpoint use diffused light to soften shadows if, for example, you have a subject with an uneven surface that you do’t want to emphasize. If you are taking photos of people (or yourself) and you want it to look flattering take photos in diffused light situations. and dramatic photographs are best done with direct light. You can often see photographs of direct sunlight from a window or crack in a wall being used to create an intense feeling to its viewers.

Backlighting is often used to create very romantic images, emphasizing your subject. This can be difficult to use on a smartphone, for example, but if you find a good angle or shadowed area use it, the results may be to your liking.