As we learn photography, we are always told we need to “see the light” meaning that we need to see the direction and be able to see the characteristics of light coming from a particular light source.  Seeing the light is a must, especially when working outdoors.

While seeing the light is important, interpreting the way the camera will see the light is even more important.  You can, of course, see details in the brightest highlight and the darkest shadows with your eyes that the camera simply cannot record.  This is where your ability to interpret the light comes into the process.  We all know when the light looks good to our eyes, but a true professional knows when the light will look good to the camera and the unique way the camera records light patterns.

Young photographers often hate when I say things take time, but this is a skill that Photoshop can’t help you with.  You can’t read a book and master interpreting light.  It is a process of trial and error.  You must study and note the differences between the way your eyes saw the portrait and the way it looked in the photograph.  You have to test how much contrast, shadowing and highlights your digital image will allow you for the way you record an image (some photographers are very precise about exposure and color balance, while other play fast and loose and let the camera set everything for them).

Only when you completely understand the way the camera will interpret the light you are seeing, will you have complete control over the look of the final image.  Spending time developing your abilities to interpret lighting is one of the most vital parts of the professional photographers education. 




~ by jeffsmithbooks on May 29, 2011.

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