Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Light: Project - The time of day - variety with low sun

Exercise: variety with low sun.

Aim: The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate the advantages and options when shooting in low sun.

Approach and results: After waiting for a clear afternoon/evening I chose a couple of local spots that would provide me with the views that I wanted; those being front, side, back and rim lighting situations.

Frontal lighting - The following shot was taken into the sun (not directly).  I chose the fountain so that the sun would highlight the water droplets. The rest of the fountain is a silhouette.  The shutter speed was always going to be fast because of the strong sunlight which meant that the water droplets would be frozen.  I liked the way that the sun has picked up all the individual droplets, including the spray at the bottom and also the way the strong sunlight has penetrated the leaves in the foreground making them light up.  I was also attracted by the way that the shape of the fountain has guided the growth of the plants in the main bowl, falling like a curtain with the water following suit.

F6.3 1/500sec ISO200
Side lighting - This shot of a converted mill was lit from the side.  I chose to crop out anything other than the building and used a 70-200 lens, compressing the perspective.  The crop creates a pattern of light and dark shapes and lines and the low sun gives a real glow to the red brick mill.  One thing to be aware of for this type of shot is the amount of light and shade and the effect this has on the cameras metering.  I used manual for this shot as in composing the shot the light was up and down and the meter continually changed the exposure.

F4 1/1000sec ISO200
Back lighting - This shot was taken with the sun behind, casting long shadows from the trees and the goal posts.  I took the shot slightly to one side to avoid my own shadow.  The length of the goal post shadow is about 5 times the size of the posts.  The large shadow is a tree some 50m away.  I chose to shoot at an angle so that all lines would converge in the corner. 

F5.6 1/500sec ISO200
Rim lighting - A heavy rain shower and strong sun has caused the water to evaporate creating mist which shows the direction of the light hitting the tree from the back right side creating a lit edge down the side of the tree trunk.  It can be necessary to under expose for rim lighting to ensure that the effect is captured and not washed out.  

F5.6 1/60sec ISO200
Learning points:

Rim lighting was the most difficult to capture.  I found other examples such as railings, but the one thing in common was that they were all round.  Also it wasn't just the subject but the background as well.  The rim lighting did not show up against a bright background.
I like all these shots for a similar reason; they all create quite a dramatic or striking image no matter which angle the light is from.  They all have high contrast and strong shadows of one form or another.
Late or low sun provides far more opportunities for a dramatic image.  It also has a warmth that is not available any other time of day. 

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