So what makes a viewer say, “Wow!” about a photograph?
The answer… great lighting. Great lighting is the key to high impact photography. Even the most mundane subject will look amazing with the right lighting to paraphrase Gary Crabbe from my EXIF and Beyond interview. When is the lighting best you ask? For outdoor photography the lighting is best during the “Golden Hour” when the light is warmer and less intense. This is especially true for landscape and nature photography.
To show an example of how the quality of light at different times of day can transform even the most mundane subject I took a time lapse of Sutro Tower here in San Francisco. How dramatic can a 1000 foot telecommunications tower look? Apparently pretty dramatic.
On October 24th, 2007, here in San Francisco, sunrise was at 7:27 AM and sunset was at 6:21 PM. Take a look at the following lighting time lapse (1.1 MB) to see how the light transformed the tower through out the day.
As seen in the image above “Golden Hour” lighting around sunrise and sunset is dramatically different than at mid-day. Taking into account not just your subject but the time to photograph it will be one of the easiest things you can do to improve your photography.
Sutro Tower – October 3rd, 2006
Sutro Tower Sunset II – January 21, 2007
[tags]photography, landscape, nature, lighting, golden hour, magic hour, Gary Crabbe, time lapse, Sutro Tower, San Francisco[/tags]
I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with photographing high tension towers. Two of my very first photos, which happen to be dawn and dusk shots neighboring towers:
Totally agree with you… Was going to do a very similar post, but I think you’ve done it more justice.
@Keith neat shots. There’s something artistic about the geometry of such towers particularly with good lighting highlighting them. Thanks for the link.
@Susheel glad to see you liked the post. I’ll look for your related post if you decide to pursue it. You should… different perspectives on a similar topic are great to read.
Nice illustration with the time lapse, Jim.
After reading this I recalled an evening when I was shooting in Tuolumne Meadows in July of 2006 – and the light went through a completely astonishing transformation over a period of five minutes.
I just posted something about it here:
Wow, that’s what morning light looks like? You’ve almost convinced me to wake up early this weekend… but I probably won’t. Great work with the time lapse and the image in the post!
@Dan great photos. There’s nothing like Alpenglow.
@Brian LOL yes morning light is actually quite attractive to photograph. The one day you’re up shooting in it let me know. 😛 Glad you liked the time lapse.
Great post Jim – really enjoyed seeing that very detailed time lapse. Great frame of reference.
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Great Post! The examples are excellent, and sutro tower is a perfect example. Very well paraphrased, btw! 🙂
nice visual demonstration and time lapse video. Was this taken from your house, is that how you managed to have the camera there that long either that or you have a heck of a lot more patience than me.
@Matt, @Gary Crabbe and @Richard Thanks for the comments. I’m glad to see the time lapse so well received. And yes it was taken from my house. I let the camera run automatically while I worked on other things. I ended up spending more time supervising it in the morning and and evening when I was capturing the lighting at a greater frequency.
I stumbled on this page as I was looking for photographers thoughts about light, and I enjoyed many of the photos I saw here. As a photographer who likes to catch early and late light several times every week, I want to add this thought. While there is nothing I enjoy more than golden hour light, it’s wise to realize that this is not good light but pretty light. Where I live Tuesday was a gray day with few shadows and an eerie light with an ugly bluish cast. All surfaces in the landscape seemed to blend together and I thought I wouldn’t take many photos. As it turned out, I took some of the best photos of the month. The danger in aiming always for the pretty light is that we may forget to look when the scene doesn’t coform to our preconceptions. The important skill for me is to always look at what’s there. When I go looking for something particular like that pretty light, I almost always miss what’s really happening.
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Photography, Itâ€™s All About The Light JMG-Galleries Pretty amazing example of how lighting at different times of the day can dramatically effect your photos. Cool time lapse that really drives the message home.
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