So, If it really is About the LIght...
After reading a comment that Francesco made, in which he stated -
"But I have to add that it is really the "light" that makes it - materials count for perhaps 20 percent of the quality,...."
..I would agree with Francesco, but have some questions about "light". First, I am curious as to what the light was like when Francesco made the "Rock Group". Next there are times when I see the "light", this usually happens right after sun-up or right as the sun is about to set.
Yet many of the photos I see here are made at different times of the day, and do you all just know when the light will be right? What is it you look for within a scene that tells you the "light" is right or wrong?
Are there exposure techniques that you use to adjust the light - other just good exposure?
Seems like Doug Bennett has discussed this at times, so feel free to join in on this one Doug..
Shoot alot while travelling. This makes it tough to shoot only at the goldan hours or when the sun is out or the sky pretty etc...
I choose my film accordingly -- as in: flat light contrasty film -- and focus even harder on content and composition.
I don't agree that light is best at different times of day, it's simply different. You can adjust to the light by adjusting exposure & development, or by looking for better light. For example light at noon is not the greatest for portraits, but take the subject to a shaded area and boom, you have changed the light completely.
The light under a baseball hat is not the same light that hits the top of the baseball hat, if you know what I mean.
I can't explain this too well, sorry. It's just a matter of looking at the light, and thinking in terms of what the light will do (flat light = flat print, etc...).
For the most part I've been shooting with a very slow film(Maco 820c IR)for 90% of my images and make decisions in terms of ISO,etc according to time of year,quantity/quality of daylight,time of day, etc.as I go along and work with what nature gives me.
"An object never performs the same function as its name or its image"-Rene Magritte
"An image of a dog does not bite"-William James applied to photography
Follow the light, let it dictate the photograph or be in place when the light is right on a specific idea. Also going to the same location over and over again gives an insight to subtlties as to how that evironment responds to light.
Light in the environment at the very least is going to change every 4 minutes anyway because of the earths rotation, so an awareness of where the sun is and which direction it is sliding aross the sky helps.
By deciding what type of light you want to photograph also helps narrow the decision making process down. Open shade light, shade light directional light and backlight each have their inherant qualities and problems so anticipating and responding with the appropriate films and filters for each light quality takes most of the thinking out and allows you to focus on images within the different lighting situations.
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I guess it would depend upon what I am trying to achieve. Since, I live close to the water, I like like that is low in the sky, so I can get the reflection of the light off the waves in the ocean (otherwise, it just looks flat). During, the middle of the day when the sun is high, I tend to shoot in the rain forest areas, or just sleep.
Originally Posted by photomc
jdef, I share your opinion on this...right now, if I find the right exposure/technique it is either an accident or something I spent more time working on than the image itself. That said, I also have noticed that even when shooting the same subject with minutes between exposures that one will be what I'm after but the other is not. Now that does not happen in the field, but once the negative is developed and the printing begins.
Andre, I understand what you were saying - light is light, I just feel that the quality of light does change - not always at a certain time of day, or even time of year..but there seem to be times when the quality of the light is quite good.
Thomassaurwein - have watched your different post with interest, because you seem to understand your light and use it to express your image. Think what you said about returning to the same place is very true if one is to learn about the light and the locations response to that light.
There are several members on this site that have mastered light (or should I say the exposure of light) and then there are the better know photographers that also seem to have this down. So I guess it really does come down to understanding the basic tools we use - film/exposure/development/printing, and letting those skills work behind the scene as we concentrate on the "art". I have learned to walk away from a scene that is flat or has no life...just haven't learned how to capture what is there when it is alive...
I'm one of those who has cirtainly not mastered the light but I do love the light we get between storms. It seems to be clean, full of contrast and makes a image glow. On the few occasions I have been up with the dawn chorus the light also looks really good, but alas my brain cell does not function at that time of the morning
It might really be more to do with the look I like and that is contrasty for most subjects, so longer shadows accross a subject bringing out the textures is what I try to look for. When working with models of course I want natural soft direct and reflected light as I want their skin to look as perfect as possible.
If I have to shoot at social occasions or demonstrations then any light will do as I can't pick the time of day / night.
Other than when experimenting I will choosed a film I know I can work with and will give me the results for the occasion. Which is another reason if we lose Ilford I'm in big trouble and will be set-back several years
Doing some studio work certainly taught me a lot about using natural light. I'm usually thinking of the sun as the "key" and either moving myself or the subject so the light is where I want it, or if the subject is immobile like a landscape--waiting for it to get into the right place or for the clouds to work themselves out to the advantage of the scene. My favorite light is just after a rainstorm where there are heavy clouds and clear sky with sun breaking through. Anything looks interesting in this light.
I do like to revisit locations in different light and see what I can make of them. I'm always photographing this great view from our apartment, and I've learned a lot by doing this. There's a point at which the sun just gets up over the buildings on the left of the frame to light up the tops of those trees that's really nice, especially in winter, as in the shot above. If I'm shooting color slide, I meter the highlight side of Grant's tomb and close down 1.5 stops. If I'm shooting large format transparency with a lot of front fall and a wide lens, I know that the falloff at the bottom of the frame will be significant, so I'll try to wait for the trees in the foreground to be brighter than the rest of the frame. If I want Zone V when the trees are leafed out, there's one that's a little lighter than the others that functions as a good Zone V.
One of the main attractions of the zone system, BTZS, or development by inspection to control contrast, is that this kind of control over exposure and development lets you shoot intelligently under a wider variety of available light conditions. I'm always amazed by Adams's successful images that were made under "bad" overhead midday light. He just seems to find the place to stand where it works compositionally and then uses contraction development to keep all the tones on the film.
It's a shame that many people either do not have access to a studio or dismiss it as something that is not of interest to them. I feel it's like everything else in life where experience can be transfered into any number of situations.
I'm still reading up on all the info posted to me here on the zone and BTZS types of systems whilst doing a little dabbling. I'm a strong believer though that what I learn mixed with existing experience will be of benefit in nailing those shots and capturing the light.
Btw another beautiful picture from your portfolio here