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Landscapes and Light

Lesson 2 of 12

Understand & Work with Sidelight

Matt Kloskowski

Landscapes and Light

Matt Kloskowski

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Lesson Info

2. Understand & Work with Sidelight
Matt explains how sidelight can be used to add shape and contours to your landscape photographs.

Lesson Info

Understand & Work with Sidelight

So let's jump into it. We're gonna take a look at all the different types of light here. The 1st 1 sidedly. Alright. So sidelight. And you'll see, you know, right below it. I kind of give you Ah, you know what? What works for? So I think of contouring. Um, I think of of shaping. So the lights coming in from the side when it comes in from the side, it tends to accentuate contour that tends to accentuate shapes. So what works for this type of light? What types of scenarios do we look for? I think we look for anything with shapes, rolling hills, anything with texture on it. You know, Roxanne and things like that. And then contour anything that has that that contour shaping where a light can hit one side of it and then shadow could be the other side of it. So here's an example. Okay, this is Ah, this is a photo taken in your semini. And here I am, you know, semi. I know El Cap and all these big, great places. And I take this photo because I'm standing at this waterfall year. It's what? It'...

s a waterfall. It's like They're supposed to be a rainbow there a certain time of day with the light coming through and never really happen. It kind of fizzled. So I'm standing there and I'm looking around and I'm like, All right, so that never happened. What? What? What is cool about this scene? I'm just looking. I'm looking at the waterfall and I see this tree, and it's got the light coming in from the side of it. And, um, I all right, that's pretty cool. So I take a big wide shot on my doesn't do anything for it. So I zoom in, I grab that shot. I post all these photos from Yosemite. What, you believe this photo is the one that, like it by far gets the most people toe gets the most likes on Facebook and whatever. Not that we can gauge everything by that, but it kind of gives you a sense of what hits for people. So sidelight. There's another one. So this is the police region in Washington. You have all those rolling hills. The sun is rising off to one side, and I want to mention something I'm probably mention in a couple times throughout the class here is that I'm not thinking as I go through all these types of light that you're gonna go out there and you're going to start looking for every single one of these, the way that I think this class flows. And I think it's something you re watch. One time one thing gets to you. Get out there. You look at something because sometimes you're gonna get out there. There's gonna be no side like, What do you do? You know, there's gonna be There is no light at all. What do you do? So as you go through this, I guess kind of keep that keep that mind set that I just want you to look for things. I want you to be aware. Like, what direction can I shoot and what's happening and what things were happening along all the different ways that that we can make a different photo. So here's another one. So just in Colorado again, the sun's rising over to the left side. You can see all the texture, conceal the dimension that we get. The sun was rising behind me. I wouldn't see that it would be flat the sun was rising behind the mountain. We wouldn't see that would be dark. So we get all those texture. Here's an interesting example. So I put this one first. This is This is a place in Moab. It's called, It's It's in the Windows area. It's called. It's called Turret Arch and everybody shoots this at sunrise. And so I got there and it's packed. I mean, literally. There's 25 30 people there and it's it's hard to even get a spot to shoot cause you gotta move around, rocks, everything. Everybody shoots out at sunrise. So I shot it at sunrise, and I never really liked the photo, because to me it was just kind of flat and I went back. So I'm thinking about OK, so if the sun's coming up over here and then it's gonna go, here's the arch and the sun. The sun's coming up over there and it's gonna go around at sunset only to get a light just kind of coming through it aside late through it. So I went back at sunset when I got that photo. To me, that's a nicer photo. Your taste may be different. Everybody, it's It's not about what's better or worse or anything like that. It's just to me. This is a nicer photo. I like. I like the rim like I like the contrast between the rock that slip on the rock. That's not so. These are things that you can think about when you're out there. You know, you may get to a place. You go here, everybody go to Mesa Arch. Everybody's gonna tell you it's a sunrise spot, right? But there's gonna be times where you get somewhere and you don't know. You may be traveling somewhere. You may see a spot and say, I want to come back and shoot this when you shoot it sunrise or sunset So hopefully you can kind of keep these things in mind. Another one here. So this is Ah, this is before sunrise. All right, so this is notice all the patterns in the texture. It's there, but it's not really it's not really coming out. And I talked about texture being one of those things for Side Lee. So if you take a look at this photo, see how we now we get all those contours and all those textures, and that's just the first light coming up. Now if we wait a little bit while in like it's higher now, it even gets deeper. It gets deeper and contrast year, so it's still coming in from the side. But you can see what's happening you. So if you're I guess a lot of it depends on what you're looking for out there, you know? Think about what happens. Think about what you're shooting. Do you want low? Do you want the light? Higher things like that and you can get different photos. Here's another one. Just, you know, the lights coming in from the side. I'm looking at it. And again, I'm not the light guy like I don't see light but what I am looking at. I'm like, All right, so I see these trees. I see this light coming in, and what's cool is it's half lit. So to me, it's like it's not all about the late. It's just to me. There's something that's half lit, and that's kind of cool on that. I put one last example in here just t kind of transfer this to just shooting around. We're not over shooting landscapes, so here's this this place where that you know, you can kind of see where the sun is over on the left there. Um, yeah, it's it's insanity. I forget the name of its in San Diego wasn't a whole lot going on. I'm there and not great like the sons over there. It's It's probably nine or o'clock in the morning. But as I walk around, I think about this stuff. So I'm thinking, OK, what what looks good? Sidelight looks good. So I find someplace, if you look off way in the distance in the middle, you see those little arches. So I get in there and now I have sidelight coming in and it gives you It gives you those little almost you. It's almost a no upside down u shape of light going in there, and that's that's the kind of things that I started to look for. So how to capture it? Think about where the light is, the lights on your side. This aside, Lee Polarizer helps because the polarizer you're going to get the best effect from the light being over on the left or the right hand side, kind of a 90 degree angle so polarizer is definitely going to help fill the frame with whatever is interesting. You looked a lot of those photos. I'm filling the frame with the interesting part of this, and that's important. The other thing is, is, look for the contrast. Remember that, arch? It's like you got that light coming in and that's that's the contrast. That's what's interesting about it. All right, again, going back. It's all about the light. Look at what's lit. See if there's interest there, see if there's contrast there, um, and then and then look for contrast ing background. So we saw some of those trees and we saw something dark behind. And not a lot of times is just me moving right by stand there. There might be a White House behind that. There might be bright sky, but if I could move over, I could get something darker behind it. Post processing. So what can we do when we get these? These types of photos? Um, I think you think, and I start everything inside of light room, some thinking just basic adjustments, clarity, contrast, warmth. There's light their son. It's low light cause it's coming in from the side So I want to enhance the warmth and then contrast. So let's Ah, I'll jump over here and the light room and I'll walk you through just some quick adjustments of one of those photos that we saw the one that was on the home screen there. All right, so what would I do here? Um, first thing is I'm gonna bump up, bump up the exposure, kind of get things a little bit brighter, but bring down the highlights. So I made things a little bit too bright. Open up the shadows a little bit. Bring out some of that shadow detail. I said, Contrast. So for me, for contrast, I do whites and blacks like you've ever seen a level like a history. Graham has got the white and black sliders, so I just do white and blacks. And a little tip is hold down the option of the all key and I dragged the whites to the right. So I get some specs and I drive the blacks to the left until they get a few specks. There might be too much on the whites. I'll pull back a little bit, and then warmth. That's gonna warm it up. And then I finish off just about everything with a vineyard and that really, especially since that trees in the middle really kind of helps focus you in. So there's there's there's are silent image of the back Slaski that's before that's after so big changes without a lot like what did I use the basic panel and a vineyard? Nothing crazy.

Class Description

In Landscapes and Light, Matt covers all of the different types of natural light you'll encounter while shooting landscape photography out in the field. 

There isn’t much you can do to influence the light Mother Nature provides on any given day, but you can learn how to work with it. In this class, Matt will show you amazing tips for how to capture the best possible light when shooting, and he’ll discuss the best tools for post-processing and making the most out of any outdoor photo shoot.


Trisha Davis

A lot of helpful tips and tricks to get the shot you need, even if you arent in the perfect location at the perfect time. There is beauty everywhere, you dont always have to travel to find it. Overall I enjoy Matt's classes because he stays on topic and speaks clearly.


Excellent class. I especially appreciated the specifics of what types of subjects work best in each light, as well as the Lightroom tweaks that work best with each. This is a very helpful guide.


I have been looking for this specific type of information. I love the outdoors and have always wanted to be able to capture it. Great course. The examples really helped and loved the part about blah weather. I really needed that because I would just stay home and not shoot on those days. Now I feel inspired to go out in any weather. Thanks.