Saturday, March 26, 2011

Color and Light Remix

Well, phooey. I completely spaced last night's posting.  I blame being exhausted, cooking dinner, and having a new game for my birthday.  (Yeah, so the last one had a lot to do with it... eh heh heh.) But, I have a peace offering that comes in the form of a super-awesome post on color and light in nature photography and portraiture with lots of pretty pictures. Yep! *nods head*

So, color and light. I have found that these two elements are inextricably linked in photography (and, indeed, in nature as last Wednesday's post illustrated).  The presence of light, or lack thereof, in a photograph determines the colors, shades and hues available to the eye in any given piece. As the type of lighting varies, so too does the type of color that appears. But enough lecturing, let's jump in to some examples.

Miss Beazer in the Garden, June 2008
This first picture is similar to that of Jen's post:  the lighting creates a certain uniformity of color throughout the photography.  In this case, there is a blue shading to the entire photo.  This photo was taken on a late summer morning of a very overcast day.  The lack of a direct light source coupled with the grayish cast of the clouds has created the blue lighting we see.  Compositionally speaking, I love this photograph, but lighting-wise, it's probably not the greatest ever.  However, I enjoy the affect that the blue light has on the colors in this photograph.  It softens many of the harsher colors while enhancing some of the softer ones.  For example, the pine mulch is actually a rather vibrant brown, and the cat's fur was a very rich dark brown.  However, the lighting softens these colors and makes them stand out less against the background than they otherwise would.  Meanwhile, the greens of the stems of the flowers and the grass like dianthus in the foreground, which would typically be a paler, sagey, gray-green, appear to be a much darker, almost jade-like color when blended with the blue light.

Cardinal Flower, August 2008
Bam! Pow! Zap! In stark contrast to the softening effect of the above picture, this photograph illustrates how lighting can create bolder colors and add vibrancy. When this was taken, the sun was slightly behind and above the flower on a very sunny afternoon.  The angle creates a slight glowing effect in the upper petals of the flower and the leaf running across the upper section of the photo.  This is enhanced by the fact that the angle of light casts the bottom of the flowers and stem in shadow while highlighting the rest of the plant. An already colorful flower, the sunlight enhances the vibrancy of the red so that it jumps out of the photograph. Also, the pale yellow-green of the foliage, which is ordinarily fairly flat in color, becomes a screamingly vibrant green that contrasts and sets off the red cardinal flowers quite nicely.

But enough with all this... nature, let's move on to portraiture.  First, a small note about my style of photography within this genre.  In her Monday post, Jen makes a distinction between posed and unposed portraiture.  My style falls somewhere in between.  On the one hand, during a typical photo shoot the model is very much aware that I'm taking her picture, and thus we can hardly call the result candid.  However, when conducting a photo shoot, I tend to let the model wander and "pose" naturally and as she see fits.  This creates a much more natural looking photograph.  Why is this important to the topic at hand, you ask?  Because it means that as a photographer, I'm rarely thinking about composition as I photograph (that just comes somewhat naturally), and this means that light and color just sort of happen.  As Jen said in her post, the photographer is left to take advantage of awesome lighting when it comes up. This is perhaps why I tend to prefer natural lighting to staged.
It's Magic on a Covered Bridge

And now for some completely happenstance lighting awesomeness.  I know, right?  This photo was taken around May and is from the first photo shoot I ever did.  Aside from being a favorite, I chose this picture because it so nicely complements Jen's green canopied photo in Monday's post. This was definitely a case where I recognized great lighting when I saw it, and directed Rachel (the model pictured) to stand in the pool of light.  Despite the similar composition of this photo, it in some ways is a reversal of Jen's photo.  This photograph features a dark constructed pathway that lead out into nature.  And, rather than a dark figure popping out of the picture, a colorful one is highlighted amongst the darker tones.  I love the variety of light in this photo as well.  The light softly filters through the wooden cover in the foreground before flooding Rachel in brilliant light.  The light completely covers her lower body, preventing us from seeing anything else, before enhancing the vibrancy of her red shirt.

But, alas, it is time to bid you adieu.  Seriously, before I post about a dozen more photos to this blog.  Perhaps Jen and I should do a black and white week next week to contrast this one.  What say you, Jen?

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