Thursday, March 05, 2009

Photography 101 - Lesson 8

This is the final lesson.

Play with the light.

Sunlight. Candlelight. Moonlight. Whatever light you find. Play with it. Break "the rules" about it. Light is the oxygen that keeps photography alive.

On our cruise ship last year, this was one of the swimming pools for the kids. While I stood in the shade, I shot this toward the sun as it lit up the spray of water from the fountains.

At Old Sturbridge Village, I didn't know the picture would turn out like this when I took it. I just wanted to get a shot of someone carding the wool. But the final result reminded me of Georges De La Tour's painting of St. Joseph as a carpenter. Direct sunlight through a window in an otherwise-unlit room creates a mood...

Try sunlight through colored glass, or through colored liquids in glass.

And give photographing the sun a whirl, seen here hiding behind the St. Louis Gateway Arch.

A word of caution about photographing the sun. Do not look at it. For this photo, I glanced through the viewfinder at my composition quickly, then looked away and took the picture. I don't think it hurts the camera to do this--I haven't noticed any ill effects in my photos.

Bonus Lesson:

Train your eyes.

As you go through your daily life, look around you and mentally compose photos you could take. Sometimes when I walk under a tree, I look up to see if the shape and direction of the branches would make a good picture. Usually, they wouldn't, but I keep looking.

If you're having trouble seeing photos, consider carrying an empty frame from a 35mm slide and looking through that at the world around you.

Is there an old farmhouse lit up by the afternoon sun, while a dark storm is approaching from behind it? Is there a shoe, scuffed and alone on a long stretch of empty road? Is the late afternoon sunlight sparkling on fresh snow? Are there weathered, aged hands resting on a Bible or on the soft curls of a toddler? Teach your eyes to see these things and even seek them out. Let yourself want to find the images that deserve to be matted and framed and hung on the wall in a place of honor.

Get closer. Use the Rule of Thirds. Look for diagonals and curves. Frame your pictures and find patterns. Change your perspective and play with the light. Look at the world with a photographer's eye, and soon we'll be ooh-ing your pictures too.


Take pictures in three different lighting situations. If you like some of your shots and want to share, post them on your blog and leave a comment here with the link.

Previous Lessons:

Photography 101 - Lesson 1 and Homework

Digital Photography 101 - Quickie Version

Digital Photography 101 - Update

Photography 101 - Lesson 2

Photography 101 - Lesson 3

Photography 101 - Lesson 4

Photography 101 - Lesson 5

Photography 101 - Lesson 6

Photography 101 - Lesson 7

1 comment:

Christina said...

I posted a few pictures on my blog for your consideration. Today was the first chance I had to get outside and take any pics.