October - November 2015: Understanding Light

October 01, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
  1. Characteristics of Light:

Quantity

Quality

Direction

Color Temperature

  1. Quantity:  the amount of light you are recording reflected off your subject. Your camera Through the Lens (TTL) metering  reads light bouncing off the subject for the value of midtones. Incident light meters read light falling of your subject and tells you the exposure for the midtones – BEST.
  2. Quality of Light: Hard or Soft.  Hard light has a sharp transition from the highlights, to neutrals, to shadows which are deep and dark – best to delineate contours and shapes. LIGHT ILLUMINATES WHILE SHADOWS DEFINE. 

           Soft light has a slow and gradual shift from highlights, to neutrals, to shadows – creates diffuse light with soft shadows. Spilled onionsSpilled onionsVarious types of onions with a pottery jug against pale blue textured background.

  1. Quality is determined by 2 factors: Size and Distance. Large light source that is close to the subject is softer and can wrap around the subject and add light to the shadow side. Small light source creates a small spot of light with highly focused specular highlights – hard, harsh light. See below: Paddling HomePaddling HomeEvening paddle surfer against textured green-blue background. Color Orange in a rowColor Orange in a rowOrange mini pumpkins on a plank with orange acorn squash behind against brown toned background. Above: Soft diffuse light from a strobe in a softbox close to the still life.
  2. Direction: Light travels in a straight line. When it strikes a surface, its angle of incidence is equal to its angle of reflectance. White surfaces give a diffuse reflection, Silver or gold a focused refection either cool or warm while black absorbs for blocks reflection.
  3. Color Temperature: A measurement in degrees Kelvin that indicates the hue of a specific type of light. Lower numbers are warmer and higher K are cooler and bluer. Such as: 2000-3000 Sun at sunrise or sunset; 5500 – 6500 Daylight (sun plus sky); 6000-7500 Overcast, 8000-1000 Partly Cloudy. Wrangler at DawnWrangler at DawnA lone wrangler or cowboy with horses at dawn with gold dust and sunrays against a hillside Sunrise cowboy.

More to follow.


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