Tag Archives: light

Painting with light

Just seen a film on the BBC’s One Show looking at photography in the Peak District and around Stanage Edge. While this is one of my favourite places to visit and photograph, nothing I’ve done compares to the long exposure images by Dan Arkle.

Climbers with different coloured head torches climbed up Stanaged Edge and the cameras set up (7d’s) set to a 15 minute exposure showed the rocks and these fantastic light trials.

I’ve googled this and found this link that shows some of the work:-


Its well worth looking at, even if its not something you’d do yourself, or have access to people who could do this. I love the fact that there are always people with new ideas and that there is always something more you can add to your photography.

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain

The part of this required me to photograph the same view in sunlight and under cloud. I kept the white balance set to daylight for this. The first images of this were taken on a day when the sun was in and out of the clouds, and while I waited for the sun to clear the clouds, I don’t feel that it was bright enough to give me the effect that I wanted. I’ve included an example of that here. My later attempt was on a much brighter day with a lot of wind so that the clouds were passing over the sun much quicker and I feel this is more the contrast I wanted to show.

Building- Cloudy

Building- Sunny








For the second part of the exercise, take three photographs outdoors, on an overcast day, that make good use of the enveloping, shadowless light. Look for some detail that has pronounced relief, and an object with strong colour.

For this part of the exercise, I specifically looked for a subject that had pronounced relief, I was in a park in Liverpool and as there were a number of trees, I took one image of a section of the trunk, and as there had been a lot of leaves suddenly coming off the trees, they had gathered in the hollow of the tree roots so I took an image of that as I like the detail and the colours.

The other image I took needed strong colours and I found that a string of flags put up for the power boating event stood out for me on the cloudy day.


For the third part of this exercise, you will need rain.

For this part of the exercise, on a day when we had sudden heavy rain, I took some images leaning out of the window; this meant that as only the lens was exposed to the elements, that I could get a shot of the rain hitting the street from above.

The second image was taken just after this one when I saw that the rain drops had settled onto a Canadian maple tree we have, and the raindrops accentuated its colour and I really like the glistening water drops.

Exercise: Variety with a low sun

Frontal Lighting

For this image, I positioned the rhino statue in full sunlight. Taking into consideration the risk of appearing in the shadows, I positioned myself carefully and used the live view feature of the camera to ensure that only the shadow of the subject was in the image. As the rhino subject was a matte finish, I wanted to also undertake a second image as a comparison. The second frontal lighting subject was of a glass and metal hanging ornament, this was quite shiny so there was some reflection and some minor shadows where the sun cast these onto the wall behind the subject.

frontal lighting 2Frontal lighting

Side Lighting

I undertook this part of the exercise straight after the above, and in the space of the few minutes between setting up the images from the first and second frontal lighting, the sun had moved from the back of the house, round to the front (it was late in the day) so I moved the subject and positioned it on a wall where I was able to get the right balance of the sun coming from the left of the image casting half in sun with the other half falling into shade.

Side lighting

Back Lighting

For the back lighting, I positioned myself behind the subject and shot into the light, as recommended I took multiple exposures to ensure that I got the best image that wasn’t too dark or too light. The image I’ve included here is a silhouette but still maintains some colour tomes in the subject and the sky.

Back Lighting

Edge Lighting

I couldn’t find an area that had a black background, for my original subject to be positioned against so I decided to focus on a willow tree in our garden; I composed the image with the sun just positioned outside of the viewfinder. In order to get the most appropriate image, I bracketed the shots and I’m glad that I did this as some were over exposed due to the sun coming in from the right hand edge of the frame. I’d like to redo this part if I get opportunity as edge lighting is something that I’ve not had much experience or exposure in.

Edge lighting2

Exercise: Light through the day

At this stage in time, I’ve been unable to actually fully complete this exercise. I’ve attempted this on a number of occasions but have failed to get the full breadth of images required. The closest I’ve come is a series of images from 5pm onwards until around 8:30 when the sun set. I’ve been constrained by time, while I’ve had time off work to complete this exercise, the weather on those days has turned out to be mixtures of cloud and showers, so I’ve had to halt this for now and if I get a combination of a free day and the right weather conditions, will replicate this.

Exercise: Judging colour temperature 2

Following on from the previous exercise, take three images and for each one vary the white balance to daylight/sunlight setting; shade setting; and auto while balance.

I found that the shade setting to be a more pronounced colour than I was expecting as it added a very rich, warm orange glow. In some cases such as the tree trunk, it was quite nice and replicated golden light from the end of the day. The daylight was a nice balance that added warmth but was more subtle than the full shade balance. I was most surprised by the auto white balance. It’s quite easy to just have the camera on auto, but I found through this direct comparison that it was a very cool, neutral tone that seemed to be blue tinged in some conditions such as the image of the tree trunk. It made me more aware of not leaving the white balanced to auto and to take into consideration the lighting conditions and choosing what I feel is most appropriate at that time. Since writing this, I’ve been out with the camera on a cloudy day where the light was very flat and where my images with the auto white balance didn’t have any punch to them, or tones in the lighter areas such as the grey sky, when I switched the white balance to cloudy, it added extra depth and colour so a photographers judgement is needed to ensure that the camera is set up for each requirement as it reduces the need to undertake as much post processing.

Light at the end of the day- Auto WB

Light at the end of the day Auto WB

Light at the end of the day- Daylight WB

Daylight Light at end of  day 1

Light at the end of the day- Shade WB

Shade Light at end of day 2

Midday Sun- Auto WB

Auto Midday Sun 3

Midday Sun- Daylight WB

Daylight Midday Sun 1

Midday Sun- Shade WB

Shade Midday Sun 2

Shade- Auto WB

Auto Shade 3

Shade- Daylight WB

Daylight Shade  1

Shade- Shade WB

Shade shade 2

Exercise: Judging colour temperature 1

Use a subject that does not have a strong colour such as a friends face. Take three images, one in full sunlight during the middle of the day, one in shade during the middle of the day and one in sunlight when the sun is close to the horizon.

I knew that midday sun was colourless but I didn’t expect on my images, that the low to horizon sun had a cool colour tint to it, almost tinged with blue, although I know from experience of golden sunsets that that is dependent on weather conditions, and that light can alter so much depending on the environment and weather. Personally after looking at the three images, I prefer the sun low to the horizon as it seems to be more neutrally toned.


Sun close to the horizon                         Shade in midday

Low to horizonMidday Shade

Direct sun at Midday

Midday Sun

Exercise: Higher and Lower Sensitivity

For the first part of the exercise take similar shots at both normal and high sensitivity.

Choose a subject that is marginal, a mixture of light level and subject movement is only just possible.

I decided to undertake this exercise at the Manchester Pride parade as it featured a combination of different lighting conditions as well as a lot of movement. I’d previously taken images with my older 350d camera at previous year’s events and I was aware that this was very noisy at ISO levels over ISO 400 and that it wasn’t as fast in some situations as I needed it to be. My 7d handles higher ISOs quite well and I found that it was more able to cope with this and while there was noise on the higher ISO images, it was a marked improvement over my previous camera.

With the light conditions on the day- showers, clouds and some patches of sun, the higher ISO was needed to capture the movement of the people in the parade as with ISO 100, I found that the movement was blurred and not frozen where ISO 400 and above did this. I’d prefer to get the image I wanted as opposed to being concerned with noise as the newer cameras are more capable of this.

I enlarged one image of higher and lower sensitivity to 100% and as seen here, I found noise to be more evident in the darker areas, when I enlarged an area that was not particularly light or dark, a stone wall, I found that I couldn’t see any noise in this compared to the other images. While I have experience of using film, I hadn’t experienced graininess due to only printing small size images, however I’ve been trialling a new piece of software that adds film grain, and when I’ve tried that on my digital images, I’ve been surprised by how obvious some replicated film grain can be. I don’t tend to be overly concerned about it now, as if the image is right, the noise won’t detract from it and in some cases, it might even add to the image and the atmosphere being conveyed.

Lower Sensitivity ISO’s

ISO 100                                                  ISO 100

Low sensitivity 1Low sensitivity 2

ISO 100                                                 ISO 125

Low sensitivity 3Low sensitivity 4

ISO 125                                                  ISO 100

Low sensitivity 5Low sensitivity 6


Higher Sensitivity ISO’s


ISO 400                                                  ISO 800

High Sensitivity 1High Sensitivity 2

ISO 2500                                                 ISO 640

High Sensitivity 3High Sensitivity 4

ISO 400                                                   ISO 500

High Sensitivity 5High Sensitivity 6



Crop comparisons for shadowy and darker areas

High Sensitivity 100 cropLow sensitivity 100 crop