Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Light section – thoughts


I started the Light section of the Art of Photography course a few weeks ago, and to be honest I’m not yet making the kind of progress on it that I should. In fact, I’ve already asked my tutor for an extension on the assignment target date.

When I started the Art of Photography, I naively assumed that each of the five sections would be approximately equal in workload. On starting the Light chapter of the course notes, I was slightly taken aback to see that there are 14 exercises to complete, many of which are split into two or three parts. In comparison, Colour only had four exercises (and I needed an extension on that assignment too!)

Added to this, most of the exercises have very specific requirements in terms of (e.g.) time of day, type and quality of light, weather, equipment needed and so on. The light/weather ones are proving difficult to achieve, possibly due to the time of year. I’m working at the moment, so most of the shots that require daytime light need to be crammed into the weekend, and I need to keep my fingers crossed that the light will be sunny on some days and overcast on others (with a bit of rain thrown in at the right time too). I’m working away from home, so the exercises that involve more arranged setups indoors (with diffusers etc) aren’t really possible. The only exercise where my current daytime environment is helpful is the one to compare fluorescent and tungsten lighting…!

So – I’ve made a pragmatic decision to tackle the exercises out of sequential order, picking out the ones I can do now and which ones I need to save until later when the conditions are right.

We’re off to the south of France for 10 days over Christmas and New Year, so hopefully the light down there is more conducive to the exercises that require specific sunlight conditions, such as ‘light throughout the day’ and ‘variety with a low sun’.

Then I’m planning on taking the rest of January off work, at home to catch up on things. This is when I will hopefully get all the indoor exercises done and the assignment nailed.

One good thing about this section is that the assignment looks like it can be executed reasonably quickly once the preparation has been done.

I suppose this is a bit of a grumble… Light is the longest section, with the most exercises, with the most specific requirements per exercise, and I’m trying to do it at a time of year that makes this the most difficult part of the course to date.

However – I do realise that light is such an important aspect of photography, with so many different facets, that the course content is exactly what it should be. I just think maybe the OCA could warn TAOP students that this section will take a little longer?

Anyway – enough of my moaning. Wish me luck…


2 thoughts on “Light section – thoughts

  1. Good luck ! I haven’t started yet as every time I read start to read the course notes I get no further than the first few pages. Like you I know this section is important and I am keen to do it but it’s the prep and being at the right place at the time that is proving, if not difficult, a stumbling block for me. This is frustrating as I think I know what I want to do as my assignment in this section but am stopping myself thinking about this as I want to do the course in order. Maybe what I should do is attempt to do the assignment, find I cannot really achieve what I would like, and then have a good reason to go through the course work. Anyway good luck with it all and enjoy the South of France.

  2. Hi Rob, you are not alone with having difficulties with this section; I’m having issues with finding the right conditions at the right time too. This is definitely not the best time of year to be doing this section! I’m shooting bits of different outdoor exercises as I go along so it’s a bit haphazard, and not really conducive to learning, although I will try and post them in the right order. I really can’t see how I’m going to be able to do the ‘Light through the day’ section at this time of year so it may not get done (it will be first exercise that I’ve missed).

    I’ve got some ideas about the assignment so will start planning it shortly – not the best thing to do before I’ve done the exercises I know, but can’t see any other way round.

    Good luck and enjoy the South of France!

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