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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | December 11, 2019

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Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light
Aimee Catt

Lighting is such a major factor of photography. It really can make or break a photo and correct lighting makes an amazing difference. I much prefer natural light, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today.

I have noticed more and more that I am becoming increasingly obsessed and want to give a little fist pump when the light is nice.

The best times of the day to photograph are early morning and late afternoon. When I say early morning, I mean EARLY morning. If you’re anything like me and don’t enter the land of the living until midday, 5:30am doesn’t even exist. But that’s when it’s the best. I used to convince myself that it would still be nice at 8:30 as I consider that early. No. It is not as nice then.

Once upon a time I ‘pulled an all nighter’ and watched the sun rise over the Brisbane River/Story Bridge.

It. Was. So. Beautiful.

The water was still and didn’t have its renown brown tinge, instead it reflected the sky which was a mixture of pinks, mauve and bursts of reddish, golden sun. I still think about that morning and wish I had my tripod (I hate using a tripod, so this proves how pretty it was!) and camera rather than a beer. I could go back one morning, and I should. I’m a dedicated photographer, but sometimes, not that dedicated. My horrible sleeping pattern and love of sleep is a personal flaw though, and you should not follow suit. Writing about it.. I’m going to do it. You should too.

Afternoon and morning sun is the best because of its angle in the sky. It is positioned lower and lights everything from the side; giving more contrast and depth, as well as producing a more golden sun. Midday sun is right above your subject, makes everything look flat and produces pretty bad shadows… it’s just not very nice. Unless these things are what you are going for, and you can still make it work.

It’s the golden part that I love. I went camping a few weeks ago in the hills in the middle of nowhere and oh, my, gosh! I just wanted to stop every metre and take a photo of absolutely everything. Were I driving, I would have. The valleys were filled with a beautiful golden haze that got caught in the manes of the miniature ponies and rimmed the rolling hills. This refers to “golden hour”. Golden hour depends on the time of year and the pattern of the sun, but it’s the last hour of sun of the day. It’s also this way in the first hour of the day, but as I mentioned… I don’t know about that.

 

You would have seen a lot of photos taken in golden hour. All of my favourite wedding photographers shoot in this time and their images are the most beautiful things I have ever seen. It’s also popular in fashion. With this golden sun behind (this is called back lighting), it catches the hair of your model, makes them glow and it just looks magic. MAGIC. Coincidentally, it also referred to as “Magic Hour”.

When it’s overcast, there is obviously no sun to worry about. Overcast light, however, can also be totally beautiful. The clouds act as a diffuser to the harsh sun, making the light even. Therefore, overcast light is awesome for outdoor portraits. It’s not the best for photos of buildings and things like that as there is no contrast for depth, but it makes the lighting on a face smooth and great. It also avoids squinting. So, now that the weather is constantly on the fritz, you know that you can work with it!

Another of my favourites is window light. Obviously, from the sun coming through a window. This is a soft light and so, so nice for portraits. It also gives a nice angle for things in the house, if you like taking photos of that kind of stuff.

Now that I have told you these things, just pay attention to what the sun is doing on a daily basis. Watch how it changes. Look at how it hits objects in golden hour (if the sun is not obscured by things like 34905834095 sky scrapers) and I know you too will grow an appreciation for lighting, fist pump, and get excited for taking amazing photos.