Week 1 – Maximize the Light.

Tweet It’s time to kick off my new photo course with tip number 1: Maximize the Light. I hope you’ll follow this course through to the end ten weeks from now, but if you take one thing away from my tips, it’s that you need to shoot your subject in the right light. If you […]

It’s time to kick off my new photo course with tip number 1: Maximize the Light. I hope you’ll follow this course through to the end ten weeks from now, but if you take one thing away from my tips, it’s that you need to shoot your subject in the right light. If you do everything else right when taking a photo, but the light isn’t right for your subject, the best you’ll end up with is an average photo (and it will probably be worse than average!) In the video, I describe the differences between “golden hour” light, mid-day light, and diffuse, overcast light. If you’re new to outdoor photography, you might not necessarily notice the difference when you’re out shooting, but now that I’m explaining the differences to you, it’s your job to take the time to learn to see subtle differences in light and then apply what you learn to making photos.

Not only does using the right light make for images that will be technically better, with properly exposed highlights and shadows, but light helps define your main subject, and ideally conveys the mood or emotion you are feeling when viewing the scene in front of you. For example, when viewing a mountain landscape you may be feeling the power or drama of nature and it’s usually easier to convey that drama when shooting during “the golden hour” when the light has a more dramatic orange or red color, and when the low angle of the sun casts long shadows revealing texture in the landscape.

Here’s your assignment for the week:

1) Watch the video to learn about shooting outdoor photos in the right light.

2) Get out and shoot! Take some photos during mid-day light, then return to the same subject and shoot it in either overcast or golden hour light – use the light that works best for your subject.

3) Post your before and after photos to our on-line Flickr Group before Wednesday, February 22nd.

On Thursday, February 23rd, I’ll select one photo to critique and mail a copy of The AMC Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography to the photographer. Post your questions in the comments section below. I’ll be away from the interweb Friday through Sunday, so if you comment during that time, I won’t be able to respond until Monday, but respond I will!

On a side note, if you’re interested in my upcoming Cape Cod photo workshop, please note that the early bird registration discount ends on Feb. 20th.

Thanks for watching, and have fun!

-Jerry

P.S. I have to give a shout out and thanks to Andrew Pappas for helping out with filming this tip – thanks Andrew!

 

11 Responses to “Week 1 – Maximize the Light.”

  1. Willy Dugan says:

    I loved Week 1 video on light. I live in Gloucester, MA so outdor pictures usually include water, ocean. Are there any other tips for shooting near the ocean? Lasat week I loved seeing the crisp sunlight sparkling on the waves at mid-day. Of course I love the light when I get up and at dusk.

    • Hi Willy,

      Being out during the golden hour is definitely the way to go most of the time for coastal scenes, though foggy days also provide great shooting opportunities and even mid-day light can work given the right subject matter. Stay tuned for tips on composition and using filters like a graduated split neutral density filter to improve coastal shots, but in general I like to look for a variety of perspectives – close-ups of rocks, shells, lobster buoys, etc., and wide angle landscape shots – just be sure to place your horizon in the top third of the frame and place an interesting foreground subject in the bottom third.

  2. Derek Lyons says:

    I love bright mid-day sun sometimes… In the winter, when the sun is low in the sky at noon here in the Puget Sound area, it hits the Olympic Mountains at an angle that really pops their textures.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/31736686@N00/5435568450/

    (And thanks for adding the RSS feeds!)

    • Hi Derek – thanks for pointing this out. In early winter (December and January,) at higher latitudes, the sun stays low enough in the sky that you can make some pretty nice photos at mid-day, and the direct light will definitely enhance the texture in the snow. I still prefer golden hour light for most scenes, but mid-day light on a sunny, early winter day can make for some great blue skies complementing a scene full of snow. By the time you get to this part of the winter (at least in New England where I live,) the sun is high enough at mid-day to create contrast problems. I was just noticing this morning how at 8:30, the sun seemed higher than it had been in all of January. Probably an exaggeration, but still, the difference is quite noticeable.

  3. Derek Lyons says:

    If you’re going to photograph the outdoors, you’ve really got two clocks to contend with. the fast beat of the daily clock, and the much slower beat of the seasons. (And tides too if you shoot tidal waters.)

    There’s a shot I want to get, but it won’t work until the sun sets in a particular part of the sky come April…

  4. Liese Shewmaker says:

    Hi, Love what you’re offering! I’d like to participate but just had foot surgery and must keep off my feet for the next couple weeks. Could I share some wintry photos I’ve taken earlier? Obviously, I couldn’t post the “before and after” shots.

    Just wondering,
    Liese

  5. Sally Nolet says:

    Hi, thanks for offering this! I am definitely an amateur when it comes to photography and I would love to learn more. I took my before and after shots on a great hike up Bondcliff on Saturday. The pictures are on the Lincoln Woods trail, though not in the exact same spot. I posted another from the summit that I liked. Looking forward to the assignments!

  6. Thanks for participating Sally!

  7. […] tip video on my blog as part of my free on-line outdoor photography course. This week’s tip, Maximize the Light, encourages photographers to learn the nuance of using natural light in outdoor photos. It seems […]

  8. […] tip video on my blog as part of my free on-line outdoor photography course. This week’s tip, Maximize the Light, encourages photographers to learn the nuance of using natural light in outdoor photos. It seems […]

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