On Light Part 1

I have wanted to do for a while, a series of essays on light.

Light is obviously photography. The two are intertwined and it is fair to say light defines an image. I would like to look at light in images, both good and bad as to dwell on only the good robs us of creative options and opportunities. 

When photographing in Japan, the light can often be muted and gentle, but a little lacking in drama. Towards the middle of the day, the sky is often a colourless haze, especially from the perspective of a Tasmanian photographer used to strong and more angled light. Early and later, depending on the time of year will usually add more contrast and for a short while, that contrast and deepened colour becomes a revelation.

Walking In Light.

"Walking in" light is that magical last or first half an hour of sunlight, filtered by atmospheric conditions that often adds a golden yellow or orange glow. It is sometimes called the "golden hour", but this is probably even more specific as it pertains to a strength of light, combined with a direction of movement, away from the lightand against the flow of traffic, specifically applicable to street photography.

Kyoto's main shopping drag is ideally aligned to the sunset version of this light (and sunrise I guess, but I have not been going in the right direction at that time in the morning).

There is plenty of movement at this time of the day, especially on work days.

untitled-4220210-3.jpg

Metering can be tricky, but I find that more drama comes from metering for the sunlit areas, even if that risks loosing the shadows. The OMD sensor and meter combination seems ideally suited to a little under exposure in aperture priority with precious few lost files. Because the primary light is quite strong, the exposures are well within do-able range for quality, depth and capturing subject motion (ISO 400, f4 to 5.6, 1/250th or there about). Autofocus is also assisted by the added contrast, but these images were captured using zone focus.

 Still strong in black and white

Still strong in black and white

The portico's and bus shelters also add to the complication and interest of the light.

 Even mundane compositions take on a level of brilliance.

Even mundane compositions take on a level of brilliance.

 Colours just "pop".

Colours just "pop".

 Others appreciate the last of the light as well.

Others appreciate the last of the light as well.

 Subjects are framed by shafts of light, surrounded by deep shadow. Notice the shadow selfie? I am on the left.

Subjects are framed by shafts of light, surrounded by deep shadow. Notice the shadow selfie? I am on the left.

Every image, and many more (some spoiled by my own shadow!), were taken over a 10 to 15 minute period with an OMD and 17mm.