I’ve just completed my first week in the Clickin Moms workshop Lighting 201 Natural Light with Atmosphere run by the inspiring Megan Squires. I liked the sound of this course as one thing we do get a lot of in England is tricky weather and I thought it was about time I learned to make the best of what Mother Nature throws at us. This is a 4 week course and week 1 was all about the quality of light; hard vs soft and also the direction of light; top, front, back and side light.
Megan crammed a lot of information into the course materials and she also gave us options to choose from for our assignment. As we actually had a sunny day I thought I would try and complete the hard light (full sun) assignment and so Theo and I visited the Grand Union Canal which is just down the road from our house.
This was our location, bright blue sky with hard light to the front and slight side of Theo. You can see through the bridge the clouds that were on their way but hadn’t reach our location as yet. My style is vivid colours and I Iove how the front lighting emphasises this. I had some dark shadows on the far side of the bridge that I softened in LR4.Theo basking in the bright sun. As this was taken with full on hard front light there are lots of hard shadows and bright vivid colours. I made use of Theo’s hat to shade his face a little and boosted the colours a little in post processing.Here I put Theo under the bridge with the sun behind him and slightly to camera left, as you can see it’s very bright outside the bridge. He’s standing in sun but I’ve angled him so that most of the sun is on his back. I love this old bridge with it’s worn bricks and soft colours.Same location as before, a nice sunny black and white this time for my cute lad.
Back under the bridge but this time I’ve shot from a higher angle. I love the light in Theo’s eyes and his skin tone in this photo, think I’ll try shooting under this bridge on a bright sunny day again soon.On the canal tow path with the sun now bright but overcast and slightly to camera left. This overcast light is much more of the type I am used to shooting in and I think this photo shows exactly why overcast light can be a pain. The light on Theo’s face is much softer but it’s a little flat, plus the grass appears neontoo bright and skin tones slightly wonky. This photo is the one that is making me more keen to try harsh lighting again and get away from overcast skies!
One of these helicopters flew overhead in the middle of our session, Theo was very excited! We think it was a Black Hawk which begs the question why such a powerful helicopter was flying over our sleepy little canal!
So what did I learn? My choice of bright top for Theo worked in terms of the tone of the image but it did give me some strong colour casts that I need to go back and edit out. I shoot in RAW and have my LCD set to show highlight clipping in all 3 of the RGB channels, I spot metered and exposed for skin and pushed as bright as I could not to get clipping much on the skin but I was surprised at how much I then had to selectively boost exposure in LR – by as much as 1.5 stops on the non-front lit images.
Overall I liked harsh light a lot more than I thought I would and if I can learn to either work the hard shadows into my photo or use natural shelters to soften the sun’s rays then I think this is a type of lighting I am going to start to use more often rather than try to avoid it. Thank you Megan for the helpful lesson, I can’t wait to hear what you think of my photos!