Photography is all about Light.

One of the most exciting things for me as a photographer, is recognizing light. Light is all around us, in every aspect of our lives. We use light for mood, to express emotion, to watch a ball game, to stop us at an intersection, and on and on. 

I play a game with myself and light. Wherever I go, I look for the sources of the ambient light that surrounds an area. I look for the depth and strength of the light, how it casts a shadow, where is the best place to interact with the light when I take a photo, etc.

The "Golden Hour", (The hour before sunset, and the hour after sunrise), is the best time for portraits and general photography outside. Why? The light is not as intense as in the middle of the day, and the shadows help to create depth in our photography. As a photographer I am ruled by light. If I can't find the right light, than I need to create my own, or mix the ambient light with my controlled light, (by using flash or other means to create fill, backlight or whatever the mood requires).

Matt and Rebekah

Recently I had the opportunity to create the engagement images for Matt and Rebekah. We found a spot along the coast, and I was excited that we had a low fog that continually moved in and out. The light created by this mix of fog and sun, was perfect for creating soft portraiture. I also used off camera flash to help fill my image with light when shooting toward the sun. 

When pursuing photography, always look, and question the light and how you can make it work for you and the story you hope to tell with your pictures! 



Working with Light.

Photography is all about the light. We all know that without light we would not have photography, or any other visual sensation for that matter. In photography, sometimes we fall short of having enough or the right amount of light. So this is when post processing gives me the opportunity to correct my photo, and give it the light I was envisioning when I took the picture.

Before and After

The photos above are an example of putting my vision into effect. The top photo (original), was taken around mid-day. The sign was on the north side of the building in the shadows. When I saw this sign with the spot light fixture above it, my mind saw this light on at night, and shining on the sign. I knew I could re-create the look without having to go back at night to re-shoot the image. So, in my post processing I sent the image to photoshop and strategically placed the light where I  had envisioned it, (bottom photo).

This is a fairly simple technique, yet can add a little drama to an otherwise plain image. Learning a few simple photoshop techniques can help in giving your images more sparkle and life. Try it. 

Understanding Light in Photography.

The second we open our eyes in the morning, we are using light to make sense of the world as we see it. In photography, light is essential to making a photo communicate to our viewers. the soft light upon a newborns face, the dramatic light of a soldier in the field, the early light of a sunrise through the forest canopy. The way we use this light will define our "photo story".

Ask yourself, what is it I want to capture, and what would be the best light to accomplish this. There are many resources today, that can give you insight into how light works in photography, and I suggest that you study some of these sources. (I have listed a few favorites below.) Even more important, open your eyes in a new way, to what light does. Look at the world and ask yourself questions like, what is causing that light, where is it coming from, what is the color of the light, how long will it last... and more. Become a "follower of light" and I guarantee that your photographs will start to take on a life of there own!

To get great photographs, you need great light.


Spring will be Here Soon!

I know, it's the middle of January, and maybe a little early to be talking about spring. (Although I do live in California and seems like spring right now!) But now is the time to start getting that photo gear and trip planing ready for the spring wildflowers.

Wildflowers cycle in the way they grow. It is not every year that you have a large crop of beautiful flowers spreading across the countryside. My observations over the last 20+ years have been that every year there are small groupings of flowers in many areas that make great photographs.

If you need to improve your photo skills in preparation for the wildflower season, come join Bob Canepa, Jill Waterbury and I for our Digit-All Workshop on Saturday, Jan 31, 2015 and Sunday Feb 1, 2015, at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. We can answer those questions that will help in creating beautiful spring photographs.