Category Archives: 3 – (Natural light) The time of day

Exercise – Variety with a low sun

For this exercise I took some portrait photos of my wife Sarah whilst on holiday in Spain.

Frontal lighting (1 of 1)    50mm, f/1.8, ISO-125, f/11, 1/250 sec, WB-sunlight

Frontal lighting –  With my back to the sun and Sarah facing in to the sun the light produces a fairly even illumination over the face but it is difficult to avoid a squinting expression; so I asked Sarah to pull a face.  The light flattens the face and the bright sunlight has produced hard shadows under the chin.  Highlights of the nose , cheeks and forehead are a result of the hard light.

Side lighting (1 of 1)   50mm, f/1.8, ISO-125, f/11, 1/250 sec, WB-sunlight

Side lighting – Positioning Sarah so the light is falling on her left side I have created a more broad lighted modelled image of Sarah with her right side of her face in shadow.

Back lighting (1 of 1)   105mm f/2.8, ISO-125, f/3, 1/125 sec, +1 step, WB-sunlight.

Back lighting – In this image I positioned Sarah between myself and the sunlight.  This I think has produced a nice image with highlights on the edge of her nose, under her lip chin and arm and producing short lighting across her face as I asked her to turn her head slightly back towards the light.  I would categorize this as a high-key image.

Edge lighting (1 of 1)  50mm, f/1.8, ISO-125, f/4.8, 1/750 sec, WB-sunlight

Edge lighting – To achieve this I chose a position were the sun was just behind some rocks whilst Sarah posed between myself and the light from the light spilling from around those shading rocks.  This produced the edge lighting on Sarah’s arm, face and hair.  I would categorize this image as a low-key image.


Exercise – Light through the day

Finding both a suitable and fairly interesting subject and that was accessible and practical to be able able to visit at different times of the day and possibly on different days was tougher than I first thought.  The subject I settled on was a location in Spain close to my apartment.

View (1 of 1)

After some scouting around, I found my subject of a ruined Spanish windmill on the sea front with the imposing “Ifach” rock in the background which both will alter in appearance as the sun moves across the sky.

Standing point (1 of 1)

I then decided upon the exact spot on which to take all my shots from.  I decided to use my Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens which lighter for the camera and I used the view finder grid display in order to help recompose for the same view for each visit.  As I was on holiday, it hadn’t been possible to bring a tripod with me; so I would had to hand hold the camera and relay on high ISO settings in the very low light conditions.  Fortunately may camera has a remarkable ISO range in order to cope for such challenging circumstances.  All shots taken with white balance set to sunlight.

06-04 (1 of 1)

Getting up at 5:30 I raced down to the sea front in order to reach my subject before the sun began to rise.  This first shot was taken at 6:04 local time.  The sun is just beginning to lighten the sky but the street lights are the dominant source in order to illuminate the windmill.  ISO-8063, f/2.8, 1/60 sec.

06-16 (1 of 1)

6:16, ISO-8063, f/3.3, 1/60 sec.  12 minutes on the sky is quickly lightening with some pink colour from the dawn light the street lights are still the most dominant on the windmill; but the rock is now beginning to be illuminated by the sun and colour from it’s sandstone origin is becoming visible.

06-24 (1 of 1)

6:24, ISO-6400, f/5.6, 1/60 sec.  The early dawn light is now overtaking the dominance  for illuminating the windmill and the sky is now much lighter with more pink light visible and the rock is already much revealing more detail.

06-52 (1 of 1)

6:52, ISO-3200, f/5.6, 1/5000 sec.  Very much lighter the street lights are now turned off the windmill is only illuminated by the dawn and I have been able to use a fast shutter speed on a slower ISO setting.

07-37 (1 of 1)

7:37, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1-1500 sec.  The sun is beginning to get high enough to start shinning directly on the windmill and stone inside is reflecting light through the window.  The rock too is reflecting light from the sun beginning to model it’s shape with much more detail emerging.

07-39 (1 of 1)

7:39, ISO-800, f/5.6, 1/1500 sec. The sun is now much higher and both the rock and the windmill is getting light to model both their shapes.

07-47 (1 of 1)

7:47, ISO-800, f/6.7, 1/2000 sec.  This image provides to good modelling of the windmill; so clearly illustrating its curved shape.  The rock however is just beginning to loosing the high lights that emphasises it’s own shape.

07-58 (1 of 1)

7:58, ISO-125, f/5.6, 1/125 sec. The sun is now much higher ant the modelling effect is still very effective on the windmill; but the rock is loosing it’s punch as a result of both haze and less effective directional light to model it’s shape.  The sun is much brighter and my ISO is much lower whilst still obtaining a fast shutter for hand held operation.

10-12 (1 of 1)

10:12, ISO-125, f/9.5, 1/350 sec.  The sun has now moved to a position in the sky where there is no modelling light on the rock and hardly any on the windmill.

13-13 (1 of 1)

13:13, ISO-125, f/13, 1/180.  The sun is now more or less overhead, I have reduced the shutter speed for greater depth of field the haze has burned off and I can get better detail of the rock thanks to the highlights that have added texture to it.  However, the windmill in the foreground looks fairly two-dimensional.

17-16 (1 of 1)

17:16, ISO-125, f/13, 1/350.  Which a lower sun both the rock and windmill have a more modelled and textured appearance.  Thanks also to the greater depth of field to the image.  The clouds have been burned away by the hot sun leaving a clear blue sky background.

18-35 (1 of 1)

18:35, ISO-125, f/4.8, 1/750.  At this angle the light from the sun becomes more golden in colour, texture in the stone of the windmill however the light does not provide much benefits regarding modelling the curve of the tower and the rock also looks less interesting despite it’s brightness and colour.

18-58 (1 of 1)

18:58, ISO-125, f/6.7, 1/1500 sec.  In this image we have a nice dark edge to the windmill a graduation of the shadow as it reached the tallest part of the tower and light lit stone beyond, this I would describe as broad lighting.  The rock is also nicely lit providing some nice contrasts to create texture and modelling.  The image still maintains a golden appearance.

20-26 (1 of 1)

20:26, ISO-125, f/8, 1/500 sec.  This must be the golden-hour, the rock and windmill both have a warm yellow hue and both are nicely lit for modelling and texture.

21-12 (1 of 1)

21:12, ISO-400, f/8, 1/60.  The sun is disappearing over the horizon and as the light disappears the windmill and rock looks flatter and duller.

21-19 (1 of 1)

21:19,  ISO-250, f/8, 1/60 sec.  The light is quickly disappearing and I am raising my ISO again to compensate.  The windmill are both looking flatter and the colours are more blue grey dominated.  The sky a deeper blue looks richer as it is quickly turning to black.

Clearly, there is a short period early in the morning and during and just after sunset when for the best opportunities to get really good images.  Preparation, patients and good timing are essential ingredients.   I also think that perhaps the use of a graduated neutral grey filter could also have been employed to even better results to bring out more dramatic colours from the sky.






Exercise – Cloudy weather and rain

Views seen under sunny and cloudy conditions, white balance set to daylight/sunlight.

1-1000_f-9.5_in_sun (1 of 1) 1-1000_f-8_in_shade (1 of 1)
The right image was captured in sunshine and the left image under cloud.
A half-stop aperture adjustment was required to maintain a balanced exposure.
In my opinion this subject looks better in sunshine as it adds contrast and modelling for a sense of a 3D affect.

1-2000_f-6.7_in_sun (1 of 1) 1-1000_f-6.7_in_shade (1 of 1)
The right image was captured in sunshine and the left image under cloud.
1/2000, f/6.7 in sun and 1/1000, f/6.7 in shade. I altered shutter speeds between these two shots and there is a full one-stop difference to maintain a balanced exposure. I prefer the image made in sunshine that I think creates a mood to match the subject.

1-3000_f-5.6_in_sun (1 of 1) 1-1500_f-5.6_in_shade (1 of 1)
The right image was captured in sunshine and the left image under cloud.
This last two images were taken with one full-stop shutter difference between the image taken in sunshine and the other in shade. I personally think that the image taken under cloud produces a more suitable image to match the mood of dereliction and decay.

Detail on an overcast day.
A_Rose_under_a_cloud (1 of 1) Blue_Blooms_under_a_cloud (1 of 1)
Under cloudy sky conditions the soft light appears to give the colours a more saturated and richer hue.
Rocks_under_a_cloud (1 of 1)
The soft light from the overcast grey skies brings out the texture of the stone more clearly and all three images are colder with a hint of blue to their white balance. All images have been captured in daylight setting on the camera and not adjusted.

Rain – Below are images taken over a couple of rainy days.

View from a car-1 (1 of 1) Stepping in a puddle (I like the pattern of the smiley man in the water) and a view through a wet car windscreen with the outside world blurred out with just the rain drops in sharp focus. Walking in the rain (1 of 1) Wet walk (1 of 1) People hurrying through the rain and damp pavements reflecting the light. Opulent reflection (1 of 1) Wet reflection (1 of 1) Reflections Wet range (1 of 1) Light and shade.

Exercise: Judging colour temperature 2

In this exercise I took three photographs of my wife in the same settings at the same times of the day; but this time varying the white balance settings in each scene from daylight to shade to automatic to compare the differences in the images. The purpose of this exercise is to learn and put in to practice how controlling white balance on your camera can improve or alter the mood and character of an image for artistic creativity.

Mid-day in sunlight.
Mid-day_on_daylight-2 (1 of 1) Mid-day_on_shade (1 of 1) Mid-day_on_automatic (1 of 1)
White balance: daylight – shade – automatic

The second image looks the best as it adds warmth to Sarah’s complexion. However the last image comes closest to how I recall the scene the worst image in my opinion is the first the first which is rather cold for a portrait.

These next three images were all taken in a shaded place at around mid-day, one set to daylight as before, one to shade and the last to automatic.
Shade_on_daylight (1 of 1) Shade_on_shade (1 of 1) Shade_on_automatic (1 of 1)
White balance: daylight – shade – automatic

In these three images the daylight and automatic settings are very similar and I think that the automatic setting has produced the best image. The worst is the shade image (ironically) as it has created a colour cast on the wall in the background.

These last three images was taken at sunset and as before the first was set to sunlight, the next to shade and the last to automatic.
Sunset_on_daylight (1 of 1) Sunset_on_shade (1 of 1) Sunset_on_automatic (1 of 1)
White balance: daylight – shade – automatic

In this final selection the worst image in my opinion is that set to automatic as it is very cold and dull and the best image appears to me to be the image set to shade that is the warmest and gives the full impression of an evening’s sunset.

Exercise: Judging colour temperature 1

In this exercise I have taken three photos of my wife at different times of the day with may camera’s white balance set to Daylight.

The brief for this exercise was to take three photos on a sunny day, which unfortunately has always been on days when I have not had an opportunity to use my camera, this day however offered some moments of sunshine on an otherwise mostly overcast day.
The first and second images were taken around midday during a few moments of clear sky.

Mid-day, in the sun and in the shade: white balance set to Daylight.
Mid-day_on_daylight (1 of 1) Shade_on_daylight (1 of 1)
The first image taken in the sun has a cold feel about it; but is not how it appeared to my eyes at the time of taking the picture. The daylight setting is a much higher temperature on the kelvin scale and clearly produces a blue hue to the image in this picture.
The second image, taken in the shade is also colder in appearance than the impression that I had for the scene at the time; but the shade does not emphasise the blue hue so much.

Sunset: white balance set to daylight.
Sunset_on_daylight (1 of 1)
In this last image taken at sunset the image is more or less similar to how I saw it and the evening was becoming cold.