Lessons from the Scene: Learning To See Light by Ginny Felch

by Ginny Felch, www.photographingchildren.com 
Click on photos to enlarge.

This article is an excerpt from "Chapter 3: Seeing the Light" of her book "Photographing Children" available from Wiley Publishing:
 
Figure 3-22Figure 3-26
 Figure 3-22                                                                       Figure 3-26
 
Learning to see light not only improves the looks of your photos but, more importantly, it changes how your photographs “feel”. Used correctly, light can be an emotional element to an otherwise ordinary photograph.
 
To create dramatic and sensitive photographs, you must simply fall in love with light. Slow down and look around you, right now, this minute. Are you near a window with light spilling into the room? Or perhaps you are reading by the soft glow of a table lamp. Look at the objects in the room and see how their shadows are cast by the angle of the light falling on them. Once you start noticing, you will begin to see the effect of light wherever you go. It changes your life, whether you have a camera in hand or not. You begin to see how light reveals itself in a soft glow or in diagonal shafts, illuminating the shapes and forms of everything before you. You see the light manifest mood, drama and dreaminess. You might notice how warm, afternoon light tends to exaggerate color, while the light of dawn, just before the sun crests the horizon, tends to diminish or soften color.
 
Learning to use light in a sculptural and emotional way when photographing children takes attention, presence and practice. Take time to observe the effects of light in your environment and watch closely how that same light falls on the children in your life (Figure 3-26).
 
On foggy days, the light is soft: the scenes more monochromatic or pastel and the contrast is nil. To use fog to your advantage, you want to avoid high fog because it doesn’t create the beautiful haze needed to cut the contrast in the setting. When the weather cooperates and envelops you children in the flat even light that fog provides, children can frolic and play (Figure 3-22) so you don’t have to worry about where the light is coming from, adding a sense of freedom to your work.
 
 
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