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Types of Light

Lesson 9 from: How to Get Started in Nature Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

9. Types of Light

Lesson Info

Types of Light

So obviously light is very important to the nature and landscape photographer the ideal what we have in a perfect world is that we would choose our subjects all right well it would be best at exactly seven forty two in the morning and we'll come back and we'll shoot it that way well the reality of the world and I think we all know this is that we decide to go to a particular place and we'll shoot what we can when we're there and so we are at the whims of nature in what it provides for us and so you can go in dead set to do something but you're gonna have to work with what you are given I think it's a good little lesson in life a swell all right so let's talk about different types of light and I have kind of come up with my own terminology trying to make it as clear as possible direct sunlight anyone anyone know what direct sunlight iss yes you should okay so immediately lit by the sun some tips when working with direct sunlight it's going to be best when the sun is low on the horizon g...

et that polarizer back out these air typically gonna work best with those grand landscapes the big wide angle encompassing shots you want to try to avoid too much blank sky don't need big empty spaces of sky now there's different types of direct sunlight we have front light this is where your subjects front side is illuminated by light all right now if you are shooting with this best once again keeping that sun low on the horizon right at sunrise and sunset the polarizer is going to have no effect here so you don't even need to bother bringing it out for this watch out for your shadow because the sun's coming right behind you and we don't want to see the shadow of your tripod in that picture and this can work well for wildlife because it illuminates them and gives you a very fast shutter speed. In that case it does give you some very saturated colors in many cases many cases that senal in this case you there is no place else to stand to get this shot this is the only type of light that you're going to get it's not really the most interesting light it's not my favorite type of light to work with, but as I said, it does work well for wildlife because it does provide you with a lot of light for faster shutter speeds. All right, next up is overhead light this is kind of the noon time light where it's very high in the sky obviously the number one tip avoid it just don't do it stab their this is when I take naps this is when I researched and I'd drive to new locations now if you can find some shade there's often some good things that you can shoot in the shade and if their shadows there's sometimes cases where you can actually work with the shadows and if you have the right type of environment you can look for areas that have natural reflectors here is the problem with overhead light death valley just flat no texture you can't really tell depth you can't tell sky scale very hard to see some more bad pictures some interesting fern's down in australia but it's just way too contrast of lighting middle of the day lots of shadows in africa very hard to work with it's a sunny day but in yosemite I'm working in the shadows of the cliffs because you got a lot of shadows to work in in the in the late morning there till the sun reaches around here I'm working with the shadows I like the shadows down in baja california the water can reflect a lot of light down in antarctica and so it's reflecting that blue light on the bottom of the iceberg which can work out or in this case bright dirt is reflecting light up onto the bottoms of the flowers which makes them more evenly illuminated. One place that does look pretty good in the middle of the day is grand prismatic spring especially if you can get kind of higher up so that you can really see those colors the favorite type of light to work with for a lot of photographers sidelight so a lot of the same things I've said before using a polarizer is going to have very powerful impact at this point looking for subjects with texture I was looking for foreground little snow areas that had a lot of little bumps in him because I thought that looked most interesting when I have the sun is lowest possible on the horizon and this is gonna be a great time of course for shooting sunrises and sunsets looking for those subjects with texture this side light is going to add depth to it and really show you the details of what's going on if you go to bryce canyon there's a place called sunrise point do not go there at sunrise it is a terrible place to go there's tons of photographers and it's totally the wrong angle so don't go to sunrise at sunrise okay little tip there find someplace else to shoot so working with that early light and sidelight really helps out next up think about your cloudy day in direct light so the sun the scene is no longer illuminated directly by light it's bouncing off of other stuff all right this is going to be well within the range of your camera so it's going to be much easier to work with we're not gonna have these hot spots we're not gonna have blocked up shadows and it's going to allow us greater adjustment in post processing different types we have overcast your cloudy day, all right, so the sky's completely covered in clouds number one rule here is don't include the sky unless it's interesting. So if you don't have really good looking clouds, just keep him out of the picture at all. This is where you're gonna want to be looking at details and close ups because that's, where they're going to be nice and evenly lit up, you're probably gonna need a tripod because it's just going to throw your shutter speeds into a very slow range, and this is a good time to be shooting in the forest. So here I do have some clouds. They're kind of interesting because they're kind of dark and brooding, shooting in the forest a little bit more of kind of an intimate landscape. Using that tripod, I was shooting down in oregon on a cloudy scene, and then just seconds later, the sun came out and kind of burned in these hot spots, and the cloud cloudy picture on the left is better than the sunny one on the right. Because now we have these blown out hot spot that are beyond the range of the sensor of my camera and most cameras, and so I can't rescue them and so that's why we want that cloudy day. Golden hour. So this is when the sun is low and casting golden light warning actual times may vary according to your region. All right, so it's gonna be a little different in different places. It's a long time up in alaska looking for that break on the horizon class some clouds is great, but you gotta have that break on the horizon to get the light him. You want to be able to get these locations scouted because when it gets good, it gets really hectic. So I'm gonna be here and I gotta be over here and I'm gonna get the shot over here, and I wanna get a shot over here, and if you have a plan, I want to get this one and I want to get this one. I want to get this one you could get those shots in in the time that you have using manual exposure. It's going to be necessary in a lot of these cases because it gets to be very tricky exposures. And if you want really saturated colors she probably slightly under exposed by a third or two thirds of a stop. It'll give you a little bit more color in the sky and the water and other things that you're shooting, so get on location, scouted out early, know what shots you want to get manual exposure. And then here's, another good case of that break on the horizon that break on the horizon is allowing that light to come in and illuminate the bottom side of it. All right? Another example of working the subject up at marine lake got up there. First thing I did, I knew exactly where I wanted to go tuesday, ten fifty three, not the time to be there, but I had to go scout. This is a scouting trip, and so I'm scouting this location. Well, I kind of like it with the trees here. All right, let's, check out the other areas now. Do I want to treat completely in front? Maybe maybe not. Let's, get down to the water. What can we see down at the water line? Got some interesting trees down here. Oh, look at this, there's. Some canoes over here that are brightly colored. That might make a nice elements not the right day for it. But I'm just scouting out let's, come back the next day really? Early in the morning. Darn it clouds have rolled it can't see the tops of mountains not very good. Hang around a little bit there clearing off a little bit, starting to see some more blue sky this has got some pretty good potential, but it didn't pan out I took a day off, went some place else, came back on friday morning, got there pretty early. Light, figured out that I needed light hitting the mountains. Here we are at about seven o'clock, and then my favorite shot came at seven o six, and so I took this shot, cropped it a little bit because I didn't need that extra sky in the extra foreground and that's my final shot. So that was three days of shooting to get one shot, but I'm glad I did it because I got the shot. That was the most important thing.

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Nature and Landscape Course Notes

Ratings and Reviews

Danette Zak

I got this course for free thru View Bug and John Greengo is an amazing teacher. He explains nature photography with a sense of ease and he really makes you want to get out there and keep trying to get THE photo, that the day you go out there may not be the right day or right time, but to keep trying and you'll get it! He also encourages you to get out there to the same places other great photographers have been and make it your own, to get your own experiences. Yes, I recommend this course and any courses he instructs, I hope to take another one of his courses in the near future!

a Creativelive Student

Very instructive! And John Greengo is a great teacher. He knows very well how to go deeply without putting you in a difficult situation. I have followed almost all of his courses, and this one is one of the best! Don't hesitate if you are a beginner or even and advanced photographer interested in Nature photography.

Vilius Senkus

Perfect class, loved it. Short, concentrated, nice examples, pasionate speaker. Just want to grab my cam and go apply new knowledges.

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