Learning to see light


Photography is all about light.  I have often talked about learning to see light.  Seeing light is not the same as noticing whether or not it is dark or the lamp is one, or the sun is out.  Learning to see the light is more about seeing the direction of light, the shadows, how the light enhanced form, shape, and texture.  I have often said, there is no such thing as BAD light that I hear so many photographers talk about, the conversation goes something like this; “I can’t go out and take photographs right now, the light is bad”.  To me, this is the same as saying, “I can’t go out and take photographs right now because I don’t have a clue how to work with this light”.  In my mind, there are just different qualities of light.

A few years ago, I wrote about a challenge in a Facebook group and linked to an exercise to help new photographers learn to see light.  Only a couple of people really tried the exercise.  I am sure they thought it to be stupid and pointless.  The exercise was to take five (5) photographs of an egg, yes an egg.  The rule is once you place the egg you cannot move it.  You can only move the light.

Here is an excellent video that talks about this exercise.  Please watch the video.

Once you have finished this video I challenge you to do this exercise yourself.  It will help you understand how to see the light.  Try different light sources and modifiers.

I often practice this exercise and use a variety of objects as the subject, including real people.  I also have a styrofoam head when I cannot get a real person.  I move the lights, use reflectors, light modifiers, etc. to practice the new concepts and to keep my skill sharp on light positioning, power, etc.


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