If you spend much time around photographers, sooner or later you’ll hear them talking about “good light”. This topic can lead to much debate over what good light is and even if there is such a thing as good or bad light. This post isn’t about defining good light, though. It’s about studying light, in order to better understand its qualities and how it interacts with a scene. By applying this knowledge, it should help in creating more pleasing photographs.
One of the ways of doing this is to study paintings of the masters. They made great use of this knowledge in their paintings and will give you insight into how light interacts with objects of any kind under different conditions.
Once you have a better under of how different light affects a scene or object, it is easier to see it in pictures. Through looking back at my old photos, I can see the characteristics of lighting in the ones I like in contrast to ones that just don’t cut it for me. This isn’t a one time process, though. In order to continue to improve, I like to go back to the basics from time to time and see what else I can do to progress. It’s also good for me to try something different to expand my vision and hopefully that will lead to better photography.
I’ve dabbled in painting a little and other than a little bit of abstract art, I doubt I’ll ever paint better than a young child, so that’s not a route to improving my photographic vision. Instead, I thought I’d try something different, which I’ve never really tried before. Sketching with a pencil. I found that the subtle shading really brings things to life. Here’s my first two attempts.