Light is not good or bad – it just IS
The so-called ‘golden hour’ is that time before sunset when the sky is illuminated with that wonderful golden cast of the setting sun. Sometimes we slavishly avoid taking shots at other times because of the wonderful colours and tones as the day fades. However, is the harsher brightness of the rest of the day really so ‘bad’?
We should be careful about missing the point of a shot. Life happens at all times of the day and night. The light-levels of the moment are a part of the spontaneity of the event. There is little point attempting to shoot a lunch scene as a golden-hour event. Clearly it is something that happens in the brightness of the middle of the day. Your photographs should reflect the issues of the moment of the shot. To make your creative shots work look to matching the scene with the right sort of illumination – natural or artificial. Alternatively, if on the hunt for a shot, your scene can be picked to complement the light.
Pick you moment and the shot within the light available
The scene in the picture above was taken in the harsh power of mid-afternoon sunlight on a summer day. The wonderful high-key white sails are beautifully off-set against the blue of the water and the suns golden reflection off the boats onto the water.
When I saw this scene coming together I was aware that around me the other scenes were being harshly treated by the light. But, this boat scene just seemed right for the light at that moment. Obsess about your awareness. It will be your knowledge that provides the one true shot that suits your vision of the conditions.
Light is something you need to be obsessive about. Study it in all its moods. Become aware of its problems for the camera, and its wonders for the viewer. Look at light through the lens and study it without the lens. Compare the two and ponder on the changes the camera imposes.
Light is what it is – you need to recognise when it is right.
Lighting in all its forms has characteristics that suit some shots and attributes that don’t suit others. To capture the right light you need to study it until you have a deep and meaningful understanding of it. You will discover it with experience and knowledge.
Photography is about light – nothing else. Know it inside out and you will be equipped to transform your shots into impactful, artful statements.