Thursday, December 16, 2010

Photo Thursday - Understanding Light

I've recently started following the blog One Thousand Words. Gretchen from Texas has started this blog to help photographers of all levels improve their understanding of their camera and to create a forum for questions about how to improve their photography. Gretchen, Texan Mama has even given us assignments.


Assignment #2 - Understanding Light - For this assignment she challenged us to start really thinking about light and how it changes throughout the day or how it changes from one location to another. Once I start thinking about light and it's effects then I can anticipate the settings I need to make to my camera.

f/11, 1/200 sec., ISO 200, flash, 2:30 pm

I've already posted on how the bright afternoon sun here in Kansas creates dark shadows under my men's hats. I've learned moving in and using a flash helps tremendously along with a fast shutter speed. I know many people say the middle of the day is a terrible time to shoot photos but it is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of day to break out my camera.

f 3.8, 1/25 sec., ISO 800, 6:40 pm.

f5, 1/80 sec., ISO 800, 6:30 pm.

The two previous shots, kids and chalk, were taken before Thanksgiving and were pretty tricky. It was almost dusk and I had to open my lens up and slow down my shutter to get these images. What I really like about the evening light is how cool it is, bluish. (I love the shirtless boy and barefoot girl wearing a winter coat!)

f 5.6, 1/100 sec., ISO 200, no flash, 8:00 am

f 5.3, 1/100 sec., ISO 400, no flash, 8:00 am.

I still feel really unsure shooting indoors. I always want to automatically flip on the flash. With the previous two morning indoor shots I kept the kids near the windows to allow the natural light to do the work. I was fairly happy with the results. I like the morning light because it is very warm while creating soft shadows.

But I was at a total loss for this one! The boys Christmas program was in a gym with the lights turned off! I did my best but in the end I had ISO 1600, flash and it was still dark and grainy.

Ah well, I have years of Christmas programs to practice on don't I?

If you are new to taking photos jump over to Gretchen's One Thousand Words. I've already gotten some great advice and lots of encouragement.


  1. Thanks for the recommendation! I have times when I try to take a picture, and my camera won't let me take one. It's a very irritated, one-sided conversation we have then! Now I just need that precious gift of time! It's present crunch from now to Saturday as we have THREE Christmases this weekend. Ho Ho Ho!

  2. I absolutely love the two window shots, especially the one with the bottle-cap eyes. I am always intimidated by shadows, but that soft shadow is really just perfect. I am afraid of them, but when I see other people shoot them I'm always wowed! As far as the gymnasium shot goes, you're right - there's not really much you can do. The best thing to try is to push up the ISO as high as you can and slow down shutter speed, then wait until the kids are as still as possible, and use a tripod. I took some photos in a low-lit auditorium that only turned out because the stage was well-lit. That's the problem - if the subject isn't well lit, you aren't going to have good photos no matter what. And the flash is really only good up to 15 feet - beyond that it doesn't make a difference.


I'd love to hear what you have to say! I try to reply to every one of them.

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