Art of Photography

Rob Townsend

Reflections on Part 4: Light

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Wow, I found this section hard work… a combination of the sheer amount of exercises, the highly specific requirements of some of them (certain weather conditions, photographic lighting equipment etc) and – if I’m honest – the realisation that the subject matter actually took more time to sink in and makes sense than it did for the first three sections.

I mean, it’s been worth it! Light is so central to the art and science of photography that it’s self-evidently crucial to understand how it works (I won’t go as far as to say ‘master it’). So I’m very glad I got to the end. I do feel educated :-)

Natural vs artificial light

One major realisation in this section is how much I dislike working with photographic lighting! I’ve always leaned towards using available light (and in general I prefer ‘found’ rather than ‘staged’ subject matter) but until this set of exercises I hadn’t determined whether that was purely down to lack of experience of working with photographic lighting… well, it’s not. I now feel that while I understand much better how and why to use artificial lighting to create certain effects, it’s still not something I enjoy doing! I find it very frustrating and I’m not sure I have the patience for it. For the assignment I preferred shooting the natural light shots, and I’m happier with the results.

I can objectively see that other photographers may completely disagree, offering the level of control one has over artificial light as a major advantage… well, I can see that point but it isn’t my opinion based on the experience thus far. Maybe it’s just a ‘comfort zone’ thing. Maybe I’ll mellow on this one. Right now I am very happy to pack away the light lents, snoots, hotshoe flashes and reflector cards for a while…!

 

Now – bring on Narrative & Illustration!

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