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Lesson 11 from: The Photography Starter Kit for Beginners

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

11. Light

Lesson Info


this is really devastating, that we're gonna have to talk about light so quickly. It's a very, very important subject, but we're gonna have toe move quickly here. So I'm just going to kind of give you some highlights to think about. There are four characteristics that I'm thinking about when I'm looking. What's the lighting in this situation? And I'm taking pictures up. First up, obviously, is the direction has a huge, huge impact on what's illuminated by your subject and by what's in the shadows. You want to be thinking about the size of your light source, and it's the relative size. The sun is huge for us here on planet Earth, but it's so far away. It's pretty small in the sky. And so it's a relatively small light source, which means you're gonna have very distinct shadows, which could be good or can be bad. The intensity of the light, the sun, for instance, the intensity at noontime is much greater than it is just before sunset. And so how intense is it going to be? How deeper the s...

hadow is going to be? The final characteristic is, and this is something we kind of covered in the white balance is the color of the light. Is it blue is that yellow usually goes along a spectrum of colors because that's going to impact. The color are subject and of the shadow areas as well. So let's just talk about the direction of the light front light. This is where your subjects front side is illuminated by light. It's very easy to work with. It's not the most interesting, but it's a lot of light. It's very good for sports and action photography. Much more interesting is back like could be very, very difficult to work with. It's very hard to get these pictures correctly exposed. The first time around you got, at least I often have to shoot a couple of pictures to dial in the exact settings to get these just right. One of my favorite types of lighting that's just good for so many different things is sidelining. The light is coming from the side, and it's kind of wrapping around these baobab trees and that sidelining, really it starts casting some shadows, and we starting able to see texture, were able to see a little bit more depth in our subject. Very good lighting to work with for a lot of different types of subject material, a term you might hear is hard light. This is a hard like the photograph under, but it also has a very hard edged shadow, where it goes from light to dark. I don't like working with this type of light, but it be something that you would encounter in the middle of the day. In Africa, you don't have many choices. You shoot with what you got, but it's hard light toe work with because it was very hard shadows that getting very, very dark. If you go to the forest, you want to go on a cloudy day. It's nice, even light in their things air evenly illuminated. We don't have these bright sun spots that are overexposing areas will show you another photograph where that can be a problem. And so even lighting is very good for very complex, detailed information like this. As the sun gets lower in the sky, we get this nice soft light. It's not quite as intense. Our shadows air not quite as dark. It's a great time for doing portrait photography. There's a variety of other types of light. We're not gonna have a lot of time to get into spotlight is great. Where there's this spot of light just just beaming through one of the canyons down in Arizona, thinking about the color of that light, sunrises and sunsets. We call him the Golden Hour. The Magic Hour of Light, that first and last hour that the sun is up. Nice, warm light. It's got a little bit more of that orange cast to it, which can look very good for landscape as well as portrait work. Probably what would be most important to really impress on anyone new to photography is the difference between sun and shade. And if you ever watch the newscast, they go crazy. The weatherman's do with It's a sunny day. Oh, it's a great day at Sonny Whole day today and when it's cloudy old home Sorry, German was a cloudy day today, and they don't seem to be very happy about it. Well, that's completely different than my mindset about photography. So if I was to grade, how good light ISS. Let's think about a sunny day. Well, in fact, the matter is is I do like a really nice sunrise, but the fact that matters during the middle of the day it's just to contrast its hard to photograph. And I do like a nice sunset. And so on a day that it's no clouds in the sky, it's pure sunny. I'm gonna look a photographing in the morning and in the afternoon, and I'm gonna take a long siesta or go see a movie in the middle of the day. Now what about a cloudy day? Well, a cloudy day does not have the excitement of a sunrise or sunset, but it's nice, even lighting all day long. If I was gonna go toe outdoor sporting event that I was going to shoot all day at, I would hope for a cloudy day, it would just make for very consistent easy lighting to work with downtown Seattle. We have a very interesting patchwork of the sidewalk and the street, the bricks that we have laid out there, but it's very confusing on a sunny day because we have a big shadow right down the middle of it. If we come back on a cloudy day, we have much more even lighting, so that we can see that detailed information. Let's go split screen. We can look at the history Graham, and we can see that on the sunny day, hissed a gram. Most of the information is bunched up to the very, very dark side, and we also have a little blip over here on the right, where we're getting some A lot of highlights. The cloudy day Most of the information is right there, right in the middle. Let's take a walk in the woods. Always nice to go for a hike on a sunny day cause you don't have to bring as much rain gear. Perhaps, but this bright sun lights air blowing out the trees. The pixels in here are blown out. There's no detail showing what's going on. The time you want to go to the forest is on a cloudy day. It's much more evenly lit inside, and in this case here you can see we have this spike over on the right hand side, those air pixels and areas that we're losing detailed information here, it's much easier to capture. It's closer to the way we see it with their own eyes, and so cloudy days could be very, very good about the worst thing you can Dio is. Take a picture of your friend and tell him to stand facing directly the sun into the sun because you get these very harsh shadows below their chan and in their eyes. And if you can't change it up in any other way, at least do a 1 so that your subject's face is evenly illuminated. And so it's OK. We've lost some highlights around the hair, a little blown out highlight. There is just fine that nice. Even lighting on the face makes it much, much easier to see. And while it sounds like I don't like sunlight, that's not true at all. Some light is great. It just needs to be used in very particular doses. And so really think about the lighting that you're shooting under and what you can do to either come back at a different time or change it up. So I don't know a short section, but it's very, very important. I wish I could go on even longer, but we don't leave it short and sweet. I have one quick question from Lee when the light is bad in the mid day sun. Is it better to shoot in black and white if you have to shoot during that time? Black and white can work very well in the middle of the day. Black and white looks better with those strong contrast e things. So if you do want to shoot in black and white, middle of the day Can were quite fine for that. Okay, and another quick question from Eric Steel. How can you make color pop on a cloudy day? If you shoot on a cloudy day, the color will pop. It will just pop on its own now. Maybe you might need to give a little bit of boast. Potentially in light room were Photoshopped, but you don't generally don't need much to do that questioning class if you have to shoot mid day in the sun. So I've got like, it did pretty hard light. Um, what do you suggest is the best way to capture that for people? So if I'm shooting, get him out of the bright sunlight. So don't photograph people in bright sunlight, and so if you can move them, if you can't, you just do the best you can. That's just the way, it has one more one final question question. Microphone. What about using window light indoors on a cloudy versus sunny day window or skylight? Light as window Life is fantastic. I would try to avoid direct sunlight on the person, but window light coming in near the person is fine as long as it's not in the photograph. And so, yeah, sometimes I'll look for window light illuminating a patch of the floor, and I know that that's my light source now, so that could be very, very good.

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Ratings and Reviews


I'm not sure my first review posted. But I LOVE this class! John Greengo is a great, engaging teacher who is really adept at representing the concepts visually and excellent at explaining them verbally. I love how he goes through examples with photographs he has taken. Even though I only have a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, it does have Manual, Shutter priority, and Aperture priority modes. Through his class I've gotten a really good sense of how to balance ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. It's a great overview for me especially since I am new to photography, I can play around with some of these settings, and I have a greater understanding of what I might need in a higher level camera in the future. Money well spend! (For $29, this is an absolute steal). John Greengo is an awesome teacher and I hope to take more of his classes in the future!

Megan Wagner

John is extremely articulate and is a great teacher with lots of visual aids and metaphors to help understand photography. I have been doing photography for a few years now and this class was a tremendous help in boosting my knowledge and refreshing my memory in multiple aspects of photography. The graphics that John uses are helpful and he even goes through images and asks which settings would be best to use and will go through the why. He makes things easy to understand and is very clear about the information he provides. I am so glad I took this course and I would highly recommend it even to an experienced photographer. Thank you John Greengo!

a Creativelive Student

I am a semi retired hair stylist who is finally following her passion of photography. I have taken a class here and there and stumbled on Creative Live and realized the potential of learning is endless. Love love love the way John Greengo teaches. I am finally beginning to understand and retain so much. Thank you John, your the best. I hope one day I can meet you up close and personal. Thank you!

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