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Thread: Best light angle for photos?

  1. #1

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    Best light angle for photos?

    Reading the RAWvJPEG-40D post I was interested in Geoff F's remark in his reply when he mentioned angle of light.
    I know about the 'golden hour' when the low sun and rich light give possibly the best conditions for outdoor photography, but how important is the angle of light away from that scenario?

    What angle of light and from which direction it comes from should I look for when composing a shot to make the most of shadows and highlights?

    I realise for off the cuff snapshot or grabbing the moment that the lighting question does not come into play, but apart from sillhouette shots I ask this question to enable me to not take such flat looking shots.

  2. #2
    crisscross's Avatar
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    Re: Angle of light.

    Getting the 'right' light is around 50% of photography! Yes, evening sun around the equinoxes is great for flattering most things with a golden glow. There is also an equivalent morning patch which is good at nearer the winter sosltice. BUT the light strength can be low.

    Full on mid-day sun is nearly always bad news, especially for faces, but it is strong and for eg buildings with bold modelling, it shows it well whereas weaker light can lose the definition that nearrow strong shadows give.

    Most of us do what we can with what we have at the time, but beyond a certain standard I think the judges that tell one to set-up/create shots are right. Coarse fishing must be good as you are up at dawn anyway () if your fingers haven't frozen off by the time the sun has come up.

    I do a fair bit of studying on pbase where one can identify photographers with a similar repertoire (and/or equipment) and compare notes with the many that are willing, but you have to do a bit of work to get there.

    BTW ignore the rest of that 40D post, DPP and Aperture are for (a) beginners (b) very busy photographers and have no facility for working on selected areas.

  3. #3

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    Re: Angle of light.

    Quote Originally Posted by crusty View Post
    I know about the 'golden hour' when the low sun and rich light give possibly the best conditions for outdoor photography, but how important is the angle of light away from that scenario?
    One of the biggest advantages of "golden hour" shooting is that there's no direct sunlight; it's like shooting in a giant softbox. Once direct dunlight can be seen then it gives harsh shadows, which are seldom flattering.

    What angle of light and from which direction it comes from should I look for when composing a shot to make the most of shadows and highlights?
    It all depends on what you're trying to create - one trick is to shoot into a (low) sun and create silhouettes (which look artistic AND can be used to hide unsightly detail).

    I realise for off the cuff snapshot or grabbing the moment that the lighting question does not come into play, but apart from sillhouette shots I ask this question to enable me to not take such flat looking shots.
    Shooting under direct sun is a nightmare - if you can't find some kind of cover (for portraiture) then a good fill flash is about your only hope.

  4. #4

    Re: Angle of light.

    This shot was taken a mid day at Olmstead point in August. The high sun flattened everything. I tried to layer the composition but it ended up looking like a pop-up book

    Best light angle for photos?

    The second shot was taken very near dusk when the sun was very low...much more depth (in my opinion). I love shooting as the sun is just about to disappear

    Best light angle for photos?

  5. #5

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    Re: Angle of light.

    Before I purchased my 1st DSLR I owned a Fuji S9500 pretend DSLR for a short while before I realised its limitations.
    I did a few silhouette shots with that camera of which one I have included, it is one of my favourite photo's.

    I find at the moment, most shots I compose because I like the look of the scene and think it will make a good photo turn out not quite what I wanted to convey, I never seem to 'get it right', the photo often looks too flat to me.
    I am probably looking too much into finding the best position to emphasise what the photo is all about instead of taking the photo from a position that emphasises the detail from the available light. Or am I complicating things too much?

    Best light angle for photos?

  6. #6

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    Re: Angle of light.

    Good examples Wirefox, Thanks for replies so far.

  7. #7

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    Re: Angle of light.

    A number of points here. Yes position is important but it is a waste of time if the light/ background clouds etc have changed while you are investigating other options. So keep shooting while you are walking around.

    Besides angle of sun over the horizon, direction of photography can be important; ie north or south. I often find that facing south and shooting below a strong midday summer sun can cause hazy images, particularly longer distance shots. But when facing north you get a much crisper air and cleaner photo. I suppose it is the other way around 'down south'.

    ps. Don't worry about using freebie RAW conversion software like DPP if you just use it for conversion and have suitable editing software to do those more complicated jobs. And I would add one more category to Crisscross's final paragraph (c) poor people. Like me!

  8. #8

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    Re: Angle of light.

    Thanks Geoff/Chris, as I am a Nikon user (someone has to be), I don't think Canons software is in any danger of being abused by me, but do keep up the 'friendly' banter, I enjoy reading it

    P.S, Chris, I am a match angler who fishes for coarse fish, we are a lazy bunch, what is dawn?
    Last edited by Keith; 15th March 2009 at 09:56 PM.

  9. #9

    Re: Angle of light.

    This was my attempt to take to the light's direction and against it .
    Pic 1 - Against (there was no color as it was taken against light so only option I had was to color it myself )
    Best light angle for photos?
    The same location in the lights direction
    Best light angle for photos?

    ~Ajith

  10. #10
    atvinnys's Avatar
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    Re: Angle of light

    One thing that will differ a lot too depending on the time of the day you are shooting is the overall color cast...(kind of digressing here since the post is mostly about "angle"...but I think that's also an important factor.

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