The three most important aspects of good light are: The angle at which it comes from, the direction and the quality of it. These are the backbone of a successful shot and being able to determine them in advance will help you succeed with capturing your vision. Whenever scouting locations I always bring a compass with me so I can determine exactly where the light is going to be coming from at a certain point in the day. Working on pre-visualising where the light is going to come from and what it is going to do is a challenging but extremely beneficial habit to pick up on. The reality is though, as with everything to do with photography and most things in life…. practice makes perfect. I can’t count the number of times that I have scouted a location, arrived there in the early morning and waited for a long period of time, only to find out that the light doesn’t work into my image the way I thought it was going to. But I certainly always learn from those experiences regardless.
The Stand Off – Bracebridge, Ontario
The following shot I scouted the previous day. I had visited this location a few times and knew what direction the light would come from. By using the light as back/side light I knew that when it reached a certain angle in the sky it would crest over the top of the trees, illuminating the lone tree on the shoreline, but still leaving my background in shadows. There was also a large pine tree to my right out of frame that I figured would block the rising sun leaving a good chunk of my foreground in shadows. I knew I wanted to use the cattails as f/g interest and hoped that they would be in front of the large pine tree enough that I could get some warm light spilling on them. By having sections of light and shadow throughout the frame the image now has a sense of depth to it. Also, the cool tones of the shadows and warm tones of the highlights contrast nicely with each other.
In this case my per-visualizing worked out just as I had planned and I was extremely happy with the outcome. That being said the following two mornings I visited a few different spots that I had planned for and the light didn’t do what I had imagined it was going to do. But regardless if you come home with a photo or not, like I said before, as long as you are out there studying the light and practicing, you are furthering your knowledge and skills even if you don’t realize it. Ansel Adam’s said it best: ”Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
I’m a professional landscape photographer and workshop leader based out of Muskoka, Ontario. My goal is to inspire and educate others artistically, creatively and emotionally through images, workshops and writings. I believe that individuality is the most important part of the photographic process therefore I strive to helps others develop their own unique creative voice.
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