Choosing the lighting

Lighting also has a big part to play in the look and feel of your place pictures. Direct sun side-lighting falling across your scene can pick out specific landmarks and contrast them against dark backgrounds or shaded backgrounds. This can be a good technique to use to direct the attention of your audience to a specific part of the scene. Softer lighting can create a flattening, downbeat effect, reflecting the gray of the lighting. Overcast conditions do have the advantage of ensuring that details are recorded in the lightest (well lit) and darkest areas (shadows) of the scene.

Figure 18.4 The texture of hieroglyphs brought out by afternoon sunlight streaming across the surface of the column.

Whenever possible, think out the sun's position moving from east to west throughout the day and its relation to the subject or scene you are photographing. If the sun is in the wrong position it may be necessary to come back at a time when its direction will best suit the subject matter (see Figure 18.3). The same applies to choosing a day when weather conditions give direct sunlight or soft diffused light. Harsh, glancing light is essential to show the surface texture of objects such as bricks, cobble streets or surface decoration (see Figure 18.4). On the other hand, the pattern of varied chimney-pot designs photographed across the roofs of local houses would be over-complicated by their shadows if recorded in harsh light (see Figure 18.5). Overcast conditions here, together with choice of viewpoint, help to keep the picture on one flat plane. The result is a sense of the eccentric or surreal.

Remember that the best times for interesting, fast-changing lighting effects are either in the early morning or late afternoon. But be prepared to work quickly when sun-cast shadows are an important feature - they change position minute by minute (or may disappear altogether) while you are adjusting the camera. Again, don't overlook the transformation of building exteriors at dusk, when internal lighting brightens the windows but you can still separate building shapes from the sky.

You can often sum up a whole city or village by just showing part of one building. Look for images that suggest the atmosphere and culture of the environment. But try to avoid hackneyed shots; instead, try suggesting the famous or well-recognized landmarks through a reflection or shadow. Signs and logos can form titles. Or you may want to bring together a 'collection' of shots of selected details such as mail-boxes, house names or interesting doors and windows. All these 'sketches' of what strikes you as special and most characteristic about a place will build up a highly personalized set of photographs. Leave the general views of famous sites to the excellent work of professionals shooting under optimum conditions - on sale at tourist centers.

Figure 18.5 Edinburgh chimney-pots, simplified by flat lighting and perspective.
0 0

Post a comment