Photography Quick Tip 8 – Light and Shadows

cypress shadows in Tuscany

A really quick way to improve your photographs is to become more aware of light and shadows.  By mixing darks and lights they play off each other and work together to create drama or mood.  The interplay between the contrasts enhance images.

I find that taking pictures early in the morning or late in the day create some of the most pleasing images.  They appear warmer and have a more ethereal appearance than those taken in harsh light.

early morning light

If the sun is high overhead, or you use a flash on highly reflective or shiny surfaces, you’ll find that some images contain hot spots or blown out areas where there are patches of white with no detail.  By moving around your subject and changing your position you may be able to keep them out of the picture.

notice the blown out area behind the leaves and in the flowers on the left

Sometimes we can’t avoid these especially if noon is the time for the family picnic and there are no trees around for shade.  To prevent lens flare, use a lens hood, your hand, or a baseball cap to shield the front of the lens from the sun shining directly on it.

in the shade

This cat photo was taken on a bright, summer day.  I waited until she finally decided to pose in the shade.

Backlit photos, where the sun is behind the object, are very effective for trees and flowers.

the sunlight is coming from behind this sunflower

Early evening produces beautiful, atmospheric light and longer shadows.

late afternoon light created these beautiful long shadows in the forest

Side lighting provides part of your image with light and part with shadow.  This can be especially effective in portraits.

I used natural light coming through the window for this side lit image

Converting your photos into black and white is another great way to show highlights, low lights, and give them a more dramatic appearance.

I didn’t always notice shadows. In the past I would upload my pictures only to find that some of them had shadows across the subject matter that took away from the overall image.  With practice, I have become better at observing lights and darks before I press the shutter. By being aware of what shows within the frame I tend to feel more satisfied with what I’ve captured.

I waited until the woman walked into the light between the buildings to capture this photograph

Sometimes shadows by themselves create interesting photos. They emphasize basic form rather than detail and provide an added artistic quality.

Take a moment to think about the contrasts and mood you want to create when you go to take your next shot.  You may be surprised at what you’ll see and be delighted with the results.

soft shadows fall over this lovely red maple leaf

More of my images can be seen atArt Prints
If you’re interested in joining Fine Art America, check it out at the link belowArtist Websites

All photographs copyright © Marion McCristall

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