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postheadericon Complicated Mixed Lighting

When interiors combine different kinds of lighting, you can expect a clash of colors, but for shooting you will have to choose one white balance setting that makes the best of the situation. One trend in lighting interiors, particularly large spaces, is to mix light sources from incandescent, fluorescent, and vapor discharge lights. Again, the issue to address in photography is the gap between what the eye sees and what the sensor records. Mixed lighting works because our eyes accommodate to color changes so easily, but the camera’s response will nearly always show up the differences within the same scene. Depending on how the lamps are situated, they may combine to give a blend of color, or they may cast separate pools of differently colored light.

Once again, digital cameras come to the rescue in a way that was impossible with film photography. Not only is the color response of the sensor less extreme that that of film, but you have the advantage of instant feedback from the LCD display. The positive side of mixed lighting is that the color combinations can be intrinsically attractive and contribute to the image. Then again, the unattractive associations of green light may be exactly what you need if you intend to convey a particular kind of atmosphere.

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postheadericon Vapor Discharge Lighting, How to Deal

Digital capture comes to the rescue in what have traditionally been some of the nastiest lighting situations in photography-greens, blues, and yellows from vapor lamps that often look deceptively white. Vapor discharge lighting is definitely on the increase, particularly in public spaces, department stores and shops, and is gradually taking over from fluorescent and tungsten lighting. Being more powerful than either of these two, vapor lamps are good for lighting large spaces brightly, both outside and inside. What they are not good for, unfortunately, is photography. The problem is that, for the most part, they look white to the eye-which is why they are popular-but in photographs they usually cast a strongly colored light over the scene. Worse still, they are not consistent or predictable.

The three principal types of lamp are sodium, which looks yellow in photographs; mercury, which looks like a cold white and photographs between green and blue-green; and multi-vapor, which also looks cold white but may, if you are lucky, appear reasonably well balanced in a photograph. Sodium lamps are typically used for street-lighting and for floodlighting buildings; multi-vapor lamps are used in sports stadiums where television cameras need good color balance; and mercury lamps are used in lots of different situations. Sodium is easy to spot-it looks yellow and, when just switched on, glows orange for a few minutes. The other two easily fool the eye, although when mercury lamps are switched on, they glow greenish before they reach full strength.

The reason for the problem is that the emissions of vapor discharge lamps peak strongly in very narrow bands of spectrum, and are completely lacking in many wavelengths. Unlike fluorescent tubes, they do not have the benefit of a coating of fluorescers to spread the output over other parts of the spectrum. With film this made for a truly difficult situation, but digital cameras score in two ways: the normal response of the sensor to vapor lamps is less extreme than with color film, and the white-balance menu allows you to reach a neutral color balance-or something close to it at least.

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postheadericon Fluorescent Light Shots

One of the most common types of indoor lighting, fluorescent lamps look white but photographed green, and call for white balance correction. Fluorescent lamps have a discontinuous spectrum and produce, usually, a greenish color cast. They work by means of an electric discharge passed through vapor sealed in a glass tube, with a fluorescent coating on the inside of the glass. Theses fluorescers glow at different wavelengths, and have the effect of spreading the spectrum of the lamp’s light. Visually this works very well and the eye registers the light as white, if a little cold. However, in photography, this colors the scene unattractively.

If these deficiencies were consistent, it would be a simple matter of using one standard white balance correction. However,fluorescent lamps vary in the visual effect that the manufacturer tries to produce. Some are only slightly green when photographed; others are very green. All digital cameras have at least one white balance correction setting, but some feature a choice, with, for instance, separate settings for “Daylight”, “Warm White,” and “Cool White” lamps. It is difficult to tell just by looking now how much of a green cast will appear. It is usually best to test it by shooting with the basic white balance setting and then adjusting from there.

A large part of the problem, aesthetically, is that an overall bias towards green is considered unattractive by most people, except in special and occasional circumstances. A shift to orange is generally tolerated but the same is not true of green. Whereas orange is a color of illumination that is within our visual experience (e.g. firelight, rich sunsets) and has, on the whole, pleasant associations of warmth, green is not a natural color of light. Although this is a fairly good reason for wanting to make corrections, you should, as a first step, think about whether you can make some use of the green cast, or indeed whether the color will make any important detrimental difference to the image.

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postheadericon Beauty of Incandescent Light

The orange cast of domestic tungsten lamps, which is much more obvious to the camera than to the eye, needs white balance adjustment, although not always to the maximum.

Tungsten lamps are the standard, traditional form of lighting for domestic interiors, and this is where you are most likely to find them. Outdoors, and in large interiors used by the public, they have mainly been replaced by fluorescent and vapor lighting. A tungsten lamp is incandescent-that is, it shines by burning-and its brightness depends on the degree to which the filament is heated. As this in turn depends on the wattage, you can get an idea of the brightness, and the color, from the rating of the lamp. The color range, which is between orange and yellow, depends on the color temperature.

Color temperature is perhaps the first thing to think about when shooting by available light in houses. If you enter a shuttered, tungsten-lit room straight from daylight, you can immediately notice how orange it looks. Usually, however, we see tungsten light at night, and it does not take the eye long to adapt and to see it as almost white. However, photograph a tungsten-lit interior uncorrected-that is to say, with a “daylight” white balance setting-and you may be surprised at the orange cast, which will not be what you remembered. The color temperature values for the usual ratings of domestic lamp are lower-that is, redder-than the 3200K rating for standard “incandescent” white balance correction, and so will still appear rather warm even with this setting, although normally this is quite acceptable. As with so many things in photography, the complete answer is not a purely technical one. The ultimate criterion is what looks right, not what measures perfectly. This color temperature, as we will see later in the section on photographic lighting, is normal for photographic tungsten and tungsten-halogen lamps.

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postheadericon Interior Light Reflections

Photographing interiors by the light through a window is easy enough, provided that you pay careful attention to the window itself, which can give exceptionally good modeling.

The most valuable quality of daylight indoors is its naturalness. Although there are some technical difficulties with light level, contrast, and the uncertainty of the color balance, the quality of light from a window is often both attractive and useful. In fact, the most commonly used form of still-life lighting is based on the effect: boxed-in area lights are designed to imitate the directional but diffuse natural lighting from a window.

The typical source of indoor natural light is a window set conventionally in a wall. Which way it faces and the view outside it control the amount and color of the daylight entering the room. Look carefully at the view out of the window to determine whether or not there is likely to be a major rise or fall in color temperature. The walls of any neighboring buildings may have a much greater effect that the sky.

If there is no direct sunlight (or if this is diffused by net curtains, for instance), then the window is the source of light. This has an important effect on the intensity, as the light, instead of being constant at any distance, falls off rapidly. This means that, if you are taking a portrait by diffused window light, how close your subject stands to the window will make a significant difference to the exposure. If you are photographing the room as a complete interior, the level across the picture may be so great that you need some remedy to reduce the contrast.

Light from the window is a distinctive mixture of being highly directional and broad, so the shadow is even, simple, and soft-edged. This combination of qualities makes diffuse window light almost unequaled for giving good modeling, and can be particularly successful for portraits and full-figure shots. This modeling effect is strongest when the window is to one side of the camera’s view; the density of the shadow, and thus the contrast, will depend very much on what happens on the other side of the room: whether there are other windows, how big the room is; and whether it is decorated brightly or not. If the shadow side of the picture is dark and you want to preserve some detail, you can add reflectors.

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postheadericon Photography – Light Source

Among the variety of light sources used in photography, the artificial lighting found in houses, offices, city streets, and public spaces is often considered to be the poor relation. Daylight is the natural source of light. Photographic lighting is purpose-built and so designed for camera and lens settings that are close to ideal. What remains, generally known as available, ambient, or existing lighting, can be problematic, but may also be interesting.

 

Available light used to be at best a challenge, with a great deal of built-in uncertainty. Available light levels are lower that ideal for use with film, so one of the issues was whether to sacrifice detail by opting for a faster and so grainier emulsion, or accept some movement blur by staying with a fine-grained emulsion and using a tripod for steadiness. Another issue was color balance, involving first a choice of daylight or tungsten film, and second a choice of filter. This was on top of having a method of judging the color of the lighting: namely a color meter, experience, or guesswork.

 

Digital photography does away with all of this at a stroke, and available light becomes a pleasure – or at least an arena of lighting situations that is almost as easy on the camera as it is on the eye. This has some very important practical effects, on time and cost. There is almost no need for advance planning and calculation. You can decide in an instant what the color balance is likely to be, then choose the appropriate white balance and check the result. If it is not quite right, you can go back to the menu and adjust it. It should take no more than a minute to reach a passable color balance in even the most difficult conditions.

 

And then there is the issue of cost, which affects the number of different shots that photographers attempt. Available light is often patchy, with the light sources themselves frequently in shot, and this encourages bracketing and different filter combinations just to be safe. Or rather, it used to encourage this, but now the immediate view on the LCD screen shows you what adjustments to make. No longer do you need filters, or backup rolls of tungsten and high-speed film, or a second camera body for them. A single digital camera has it all, and this surely takes the pain our of available light photograph.

UPDATED! Green Screen Wizard Full Version 7.0 offers the latest in green and BLUE screen software power and control behind an amazingly simple and accessible user interface. This chroma key software provides professional photographers, as well as photography enthusiasts, a simple way to do green screen removal and substitutes their choice of digital background. Green Screen Wizard is a self-contained chroma key removal program that does not require Photoshop or other photo editing application to produce beautiful green screen photos. Learn more now and try a free demo version!

postheadericon Light Sources – Photography

Among the variety of light sources used in photography, the artificial lighting found in houses, offices, city streets, and public spaces is often considered to be the poor relation. Daylight is purpose-built and so designed for camera and lens settings that are close to ideal. What remains, generally known as available, ambient, or existing lighting, can be problematic, but may also be interesting.

 

Available light used to be at best a challenge, with a great deal of built-in uncertainty. Available light levels are lower than ideal for use with film, so one of the issues was whether to sacrifice detail by opting for a faster and so grainier emulsion, or accept some movement blue by staying wit a fine-grained emulsion and using a tripod for steadiness. Another issue was color balance, involving first a choice of daylight or tungsten film, and second a choice of filter. This was on top of having a method of judging the color of the lighting; namely  a color meter, experience, or guesswork.

 

Digital photography does away with all of this at a stroke, and available light becomes a pleasure – or at least an arena of lighting situations that is almost as easy on the camera as it is on the eye. This has some very important practical effects, on time and cost. There is almost no need for advance planning and calculation. You can decide in an instant what the color balance is likely to be then choose the appropriate white balance and check the result. If it is not quite right, you can go back to the menu and adjust it. It should take no more than a minute to reach a passable color balance in even the most difficult conditions.

 

And then there is the issue of cost, which affects the number of different shots that photographers attempt. Available light is often patchy, with the light sources themselves frequently in shot, and this encourages bracketing and different filter combinations just to be safe. Or rather, it used to encourage this, but now the immediate view on the LCD screen shows you what adjustments to make. No longer do you need filters, or backup rolls of tungsten and high-speed film, or a second camera body for them. A single digital camera has it all, and this surely takes the pain out of available-light photography.

<UPDATED! Green Screen Wizard Full Version 7.0 offers the latest in green and BLUE screen software power and control behind an amazingly simple and accessible user interface. This chroma key software provides professional photographers, as well as photography enthusiasts, a simple way to do green screen removal and substitutes their choice of digital background. Green Screen Wizard is a self-contained chroma key removal program that does not require Photoshop or other photo editing application to produce beautiful green screen photos. Learn more now and try a free demo version!

postheadericon Tropical Light – A High Sun

A high sun for much of the day and very rapid sunrises and sunsets make shooting in the tropics a different experience, with short periods of attractive lighting. For most of the year in the tropics, the sun is almost directly overhead in the middle of the day, and its effect on the distribution of light and shade is unfamiliar to many photographers. If you live in the middle latitudes, the Midwest, or Europe – your idea of a high sun is probably around 60 degrees above the horizon. For a few hours a day in the tropics, however, there is no sense of front, back or side to the sunlight. Shadows lie directly underneath objects. Roofs and awnings cast deep shadows, bu under many subjects, such as people or cars, the shadows, bu under many subjects, such as people or cars, the shadows are very small. Anything flat, like most landscapes, appears without any shadows at all.

 

It would be easy to brand this overhead light as unattractive, and by conventional standards it probably is for many subjects. However, it would be too dramatic to dismiss it  as being generally unsuitable. It can play a part in conveying the atmosphere of the tropics. Look for scenes that convey the impression of heat and shade that are distinctive to the tropics 0 for instance, long, downward-pointing shadows on a bleached wall; a face completely shaded by the brim of a hat, and so on. In other words, look for images that say “tropical” though the quality of lighting as much as through the  subject matter.

 

Portraits and landscapes are the two subjects that suffer most under the harsh lighting of the tropical sun. A face directly under the sun will have prominent, deep shadows under the eyebrows, nose, and chin; moreover, the eyes, which carry so much of the expression in the face, will be fairly well hidden by shadows. The lighting problem for landscapes is almost the opposite; a lack of shadow. There is , as a result, less sense of shape and texture to the landscape, and consequently a weaker perspective. To avoid this, you should shoot earlier or later in the day; alternatively, an immediate answer for a portrait is to shoot in open shade, but be careful to set the white balance accordingly.

 

The sun rises and sets more or less vertically, which at least makes it easy to predict its position for aligning subjects with sunrise and sunset. However, rising and setting like this, the sun appears to move quickly and dusk and dawn are short. If your are used to the amount of time that is normally available in a temperate climate for preparing a shot or changing position, you may be caught our when first photograph in a more tropical climate.

UPDATED! Green Screen Wizard Full Version 7.0 offers the latest in green and BLUE screen software power and control behind an amazingly simple and accessible user interface. This chroma key software provides professional photographers, as well as photography enthusiasts, a simple way to do green screen removal and substitutes their choice of digital background. Green Screen Wizard is a self-contained chroma key removal program that does not require Photoshop or other photo editing application to produce beautiful green screen photos. Learn more now and try a free demo version!

postheadericon Beauty of Mountain Light

Mountains have a special effect on photography; the clearer, thinner air makes lighting starker and brighter, and the weather can change in an instant. The sheer height of mountains helps to create some of their special conditions of light; their relief produces the others, through the frequently rapid changes that occur in localized weather. One of the most memorable weather conditions for photography is the clear, crisp air in sunlight that gives high visibility to long views and fine detail. This, however, is only one of variety of types of lighting found in mountains.

 

The air is thinner at altitude, and is therefore clearer, provided that the weather is fine. Since the air is thinner, there are fewer particles to scatter light into the shadow areas, which consequently can be very deep. Local contrast, as a result, is often very high. The skylight in shade is a more intense blue than at sea-level. This intensity is more than usually difficult to estimate and without correction can be stronger than you expect. The thin air is also a less effective screen against ultraviolet rays, and there is a higher component of these short wavelengths. This produces an unusually large difference between what you can see and what the camera’s sensor will record. Unless you want to make use of the blue cast to emphasize distance, use strong ultraviolet filtration. Remember also that, in reacting to the ultraviolet wavelengths, the sensor receives more exposure, and the distant parts of the scene will look paler than they do to the eye.

 

So much for the thinner atmosphere. The interesting part of mountain light comes from the changeable weather, and this is controlled strongly by the relief of ridges and valleys. In particular, clouds become an ever changing part of the local lighting which you’ll need to keep a constant eye on.

UPDATED! Green Screen Wizard Full Version 7.0 offers the latest in green and BLUE screen software power and control behind an amazingly simple and accessible user interface. This chroma key software provides professional photographers, as well as photography enthusiasts, a simple way to do green screen removal and substitutes their choice of digital background. Green Screen Wizard is a self-contained chroma key removal program that does not require Photoshop or other photo editing application to produce beautiful green screen photos. Learn more now and try a free demo version!

postheadericon Mist, Fog, and Dust

Thicker than haze, mist, fog, and dust tend to shroud scenes to hide all distant detail, bu these conditions can also offer strange, evocative scenes. Mist, fog, and dust can be so dense as to make even nearby difficult to see. The droplets or particles are so  large  that there is no selective scattering of wavelengths, just an overall diffusion. (Dust has its own color, and tinges the view yellow, light brown, or whatever.) Do not view these as problem conditions: they clear eventually – and when fog dissipates it often does so very quickly – and meanwhile can make interesting graphic images.

 

In dense fog, or when the sun is fairly high, there is little if any sense of direction to foggy light. If you choose the distance at which you shoot carefully and close to the limits of legibility, the color and tonal effect of the resulting pictures will be extremely delicate. Against the light, depending on the density, these conditions produce some form of silhouetting. Close to the camera, the subjects are likely to stand out quite clearly, wit good contrast. At a distance, the silhouettes and setting will be in shades of gray. As the conditions shift, thicken or clear, the nature of the images will change quite significantly. Dust in particular is a very active condition: it needs wind or movement to remain in the atmosphere. Back lighting gives the best impression of its swirling and rising, but then there are obvious dangers in using your equipment in such conditions.

 

Fog offers a wide range of opportunities. A valuable project on a foggy day is to restrict your shooting to one location, while trying to create as varied a selection of images as possible. As well as looking for different subjects and viewpoints and using lenses of different focal lengths, wait until the fog begins to clear to take advantage of the following shifting effects:

 

– delicate colors in directionless lighting

– dept of view with subjects at different distances from the camera, fading progressively towards the distance

– strong silhouettes against the light

– pale silhouettes

– clearing, shifting fog; a wide-angle lens is often best for showing different thicknesses of fog in one image

– a view from a high point of a sea of fog with clear air above, ideally with the tops of trees or buildings standing out

UPDATED! Green Screen Wizard Full Version 7.0 offers the latest in green and BLUE screen software power and control behind an amazingly simple and accessible user interface. This chroma key software provides professional photographers, as well as photography enthusiasts, a simple way to do green screen removal and substitutes their choice of digital background. Green Screen Wizard is a self-contained chroma key removal program that does not require Photoshop or other photo editing application to produce beautiful green screen photos. Learn more now and try a free demo version!

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