Chapter 4. Working with Light

In This Chapter

  • Color hues

  • The colors of light

  • Metering light

  • Additional characteristics of light

The common thread in getting good detail and accurate color is light — its color, direction, quality, and intensity. To get the best images, you need to understand the basic characteristics of light and how you can use light to your advantage. For some readers, this chapter is a refresher, and for others, it provides a basic foundation for exploring the use and characteristics of light further.

In general, think of light as a painter thinks about a color palette. You can use the qualities of light to set the mood; control the viewer's emotional response to the subject; reveal or subdue the subject's shape, form, texture, and detail; and render scene colors as vibrant or subdued. Light has fascinated photographers since the inception of photography, and the fascination is no less compelling today than it was then.

Color Hues

Few people think of light as having color until the color becomes obvious, such as at sunrise and sunset when the sun's low angle causes light to pass through more of the earth's atmosphere, creating visible and often dramatic color. But regardless of the time of day, natural light has color, and each color of sunlight renders subjects differently. Likewise, household bulbs, candlelight, flashlights, and electronic flashes have distinctive colors.

The human eye automatically adjusts to the changing colors of light so that white appears white, ...

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