An intuitive response

It seems that there are some photographers who intuitively look and see the light within a picture. There are others who look and do not see the light. So, how if you are in the second group, can you teach yourself to see and recognise the light?

There is a difference between looking and seeing in photography, we all look at the light and see it every minute of our waking day. Looking is not the same as seeing and recognising the photographic possibilities before your camera. Most experienced photographers will tell you they intuitively recognise the photographic moment, it is part of them. Likewise, with recognising the direction and quality of light is intuitive, a second nature response.

The question is for those who struggle to see the light, how do we move to a position where you can enhance your ability? You are not doing photography in a vacuum, the wheel has already been invented! Therefore, look at the work of other photographers who you find inspiring. I find myself writing and saying this on a very regular basis, you need inspiration like you need oxygen. You have to find your own sources of inspiration, which photographers work inspires you and makes an emotional connection with you?

If you are looking at the work of other photographers ask yourself, what is it about the picture that you find attractive and interesting? Why does the picture work for you? If you have access to the photographer, ask them how they see the light, what was going through their mind when they took the picture?

“Shadows are the soul of a picture”

Here are a few tips to help you see the light
Look at the direction of the lighting source, lighting from the front reduces contrast by not creating shadows on the subject.

Lighting from the side will always picks up the texture of the surface, because shadows are created. See the example below.

Back lighting will create a silhouette effect, and can be very effective with a strongly coloured background. See example in the feature picture above.

see the light
Picture templates

All photographers and artists have a huge problem because we only repeat the picture styles we already know. A picture template is repeated way of seeing and making pictures. If you were to do a review of your portfolio you would see repeated choices of subject matter, composition and how you see the light.

One of my very well used picture templates is a light subject matter in front of a dark background, this is a scenario that creates contrast. Within the black-and-white medium contrast is an absolute must therefore, working with a light subject on a dark background is a way that I like to work.

For more about how to build new Picture Templates follow the link.

All photographers need to be self motivated, you need to immerse yourself within your photography and be passionate about it. If you cannot motivate yourself to do the groundwork of how to see the light from those who gone before you, you will have great difficulty in forming new picture templates and taking different styles of pictures in the future.

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Picture Templates

A picture template is your repeated subconscious way of seeing and taking a picture.