If you have no photography knowledge, looking at an image might not allow you to fully understand the detail and work that goes into every image. Three of the most crucial aspects of photography are content, composition, and light. Though content and composition are usually apparent right away, lighting can be a little trickier.
So what does highly acclaimed travel and outdoor photographer Andy Katz say? Wake up early! No really, wake up early. Very early mornings and late afternoons (around sunrise and sunset) are the best, most beautiful times for lighting. Although he’s a self-proclaimed ‘sleep advocate’, Andy still says that taking the time to wake up early can yield very positive results.
Practice almost always makes you better, so practicing and experimenting with different light can lead to good things. One important note to make is that color changes depending on light. From bright days to overcast, the colors on your subject will be different each time. Working with your subject more than just once will not only allow you to understand light and color differently, it can actually produce images that change meaning. If you are patient enough, an image taken in sunrise light will be drastically different than an image taken in sunset light.
It might seem a bit counterintuitive, but what’s Andy’s favorite weather? Funky weather, as he likes to put it. Cloud, fog, snow, or any type of inclement weather can add more detail and keep your photos interesting. If you do find yourself shooting in bright sun, Andy suggests putting your subject directly in between your camera lens and the sun. It will reduce flair, but it can also add interesting background noise and light to your subject.
Some of Andy’s most iconic images include people that he has encountered during his travels through over 90 different countries. One key that he does not like to sacrifice is depth of field. As one of the more important aspects of your image, depth of field can completely change the composition of your image. There are times when you will want to focus on something close, and there are other times when you want the entire image to appear sharp. If you are shooting a person, Andy suggests that starting close to your subject can never hurt, and oftentimes, interaction with your subject can lead to increased emotion and greater detail.
As many photographers suggest, having a tripod can dramatically change your images. Aside from allowing longer exposures to add movement, having your lens open for longer can add color and detail. Especially when shooting early in the morning or late afternoon, color and detail can transform your image from muted and partly cloudy to vibrant with layered detail. And as Andy says, ‘pixels are free.’ Take multiple photos of the same subject in different light. Since light can make or break an image, it is important to have multiple shots of your subject to provide more opportunity to have the ideal situation.