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Light and Shadow

I don’t believe I have a particular “style” of photography that defines my work. There are, however, several elements I enjoy experimenting with. One of those is the use of light and shadow.

I’m always fascinated by the interplay of a strong light in an otherwise dark image. I most frequently see these on my walks in wooded areas where a ray of sunlight has pierced the canopy of shading leaves. The challenge, it seems, is as much to spot the opportunity as it is to capture the image. I’ve tried to train my eyes to spot such prospective subjects.

The Leaf

This group of leaves was highlighted by a strong sun, but only the center leaf was bathed in the full light while the remainder dropped off into various intensities of shade.

A second image combines a more gradated light with leaves, buds and water droplets. The droplets themselves are catching bits of sunlight, making them stand out more readily.

Leaves, Buds and Droplets

A final image was a backlighting of a plant; I found this interesting as the glow from the light adds drama to an otherwise drab scene.

Backlit Flowers

I have no revelatory techniques to share on these images, other than the fact that I’m using center-weighted metering to capture a good exposure on the lighted portion while still rendering the shadows correctly. Spot metering would dial-in the appropriate level for the lighted area, but I think it would leave the shaded regions not properly balanced. I could, of course, play with that in post, but I prefer to get it as close to “right” in the camera as possible.

Probably the most important technique: training the eye to spot that single ray of light in an otherwise muted scene and taking advantage of that sighting.

 

Staff Writer Paul Sevensky is a communications specialist and amateur photographer.  When he isn’t shooting, he covers advertising and PR on his own blog, at www.paulsevensky.com. View all of Paul Sevensky’s posts on The Roving Photographer.

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