Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Exercise – Light through the day

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Photograph one scene from dawn to dusk. The number of pictures you take will depend on the time of year, but get at least one per hour, and more at the end of the day when the light is changing faster.


All of these were shot at f/11 and ISO200, letting the camera choose the shutter speed, which ranged from 5 seconds at sunrise to 1/300 second by late morning. This way the overall exposure remained comparable and I could concentrate on the quality / colour of the light rather than its brightness.

I actually found the light changing most rapidly at the start of the day rather than the end, possibly as I chose a subject that was directly illuminated in the morning rather than the evening. The biggest change was just after sunrise, when the light changed from being tinted very slightly red to glowing a fiery orange. I would have taken more pictures around this time, but maddeningly my camera battery died right after the 08:18 shot and by the time I returned with a fresh one, the light had gone to a very plain white.

Most of the daytime shots had the same look to the light, and it only really got noticeably different when the monument was in full shade and a blue tinge appeared. Then as expected, towards the end of the day as the sun lowered again, an orangey-red tint was apparent, although somewhat weaker than in the morning given the different direction of the light source.

What I’ve learned:

Looking back at the series, it is remarkable how much the light can change on a scene depending on the height and direction of the sun. The speed with which the light changed, particularly in the morning just after the sun rose, was much quicker than I would have imagined. I now have a better appreciation of the quality and colour of light at different times.

(I also learnt to always carry a spare battery!)


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