Lessons from the Scene: Elegant Light Fleeting by Ginny Felch

by Ginny Felch, www.photographingchildren.com 
Click on photos to enlarge.

This article is an excerpt from "Chapter 3: Seeing the Light" of her book "Photographing Children" available from Wiley Publishing:
 
RiverGirl
                                 Figure 3-11                                                           Figure 3-12
 
Many excellent photographers only make images during the sweet light, which is the light surrounding dawn and twilight. This light is often cool in the morning and warm in the evening, each creating its own mood and texture. Because the sun is at a greater angle, and often diffused by the atmosphere, less likelihood exists for unflattering, direct sun (see Figure 3-11 and Figure 3-12).
 
Light is known to affect mood; you might notice the quiet hush that occurs at dawn and twilight, among both man and nature. What a delightful time to be with a child in a photographic session. The lighting and the atmosphere lend themselves so beautifully to exploring nature and having quiet conversations.
 
One of the challenges of working in this light is that it is fleeting. Just as you are enjoying and making use of the light, it disappears, often causing frustration. You must learn to work quickly and spontaneously. After missing your opportunities a few times, you realize just how transient this gift of light can be.
 

 

 

Using Reflections and Shadows

Painting

 

 
While you are observing light, pay attention to reflections and shadows in the environment.  Both reflections and shadows can be used as a dynamic element of design to add that something extra to your photograph. Reflections can be found in obvious places such as window glass or mirrors but less-obvious reflections can be seen in a rain puddle or the wash of the tide on a sandy beach.
 
Morning or afternoon light, when the sun is at an angle, creates angular or distorted shadows that can add interest and drama. Shadows speak of time passing, which captures the viewer’s imagination. Shadows and reflections can help you tell a story while adding dimension to your images (see right figure).

 

 
 
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