Looking for Light Pt. III: The Exercise

Today in part 3 of Looking for Light we’re going to go over the exercise that will help you to “see” light and take better photos.

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So, recently, I have been consciously focusing on paying more attention to light.  If I see something interesting, it’s usually because it’s illuminated in an interesting way.  As result, I’ve come up with an exercise where I’ll ask myself questions such as:

What color is the light?
What shape is it? Is it a hard or soft source?
What is the light source?
How does it illuminate the subject?

I feel that doing this has really helped me to pay attention to light.  I have started noticing subtle differences in the various light sources that are all around us all the time.  When I wake up in the morning, I’ll notice that daylight is more cool in color and generally softer than a lightbulb in the house which creates harder shadows and is generally more warm and orange/yellow in color.

Looking at this photo and asking the same questions.  I found the following.


What color is the light?
Warm, not golden hour warm, but warm with a green tint to it.

What is the shape of the light? Is it a hard or soft source?
It’s a hard light source.  But even though it’s a hard light source, it’s falling on her in a very pleasing way.  It’s a hard light source but it’s not harsh.

What is the light source?
The light source is a street lamp across the street.  Again, a hard light source, but not harsh.

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How does the light illuminate the subject?
I really love the way that the light falls on her face and shoulders.    There’s light and shadow working together to create flattering depth on her face and separate her from the background.  Most importantly, look at her eyes! The way that the street lamp is reflected in her eyes and then falls into shadow on the side of her face is the proof that the exercise is working. 

I invite you to take the time to try this exercise.  The next time you go to take a photo and your not on a time crunch, ask yourself:

What is the light source?

What color is the light?

What shape is it? Is it a hard or soft source?

How does it illuminate the subject?

If I move my position will my perspective change?

That concludes the Looking for Light series.  Practice this exercise and over time you will be looking for light too.  I guarantee that it will help you to improve as a photographer!

Most importantly, if you want to get better at photography.


If you liked what you read, want more content like this, or have a question, let me know in the comments section!


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