Posted November 10, 2014 by Gavin Hoey in Articles

Using light to your advantage

Recently I recorded a series of short videos as part of the “Lovers of light” photography competition. In this clip I have a few words to say about the different types of light.

There are three types of light in photography. Good light, bad light and no light. Being able to tell the first from the second isn’t as simple as you might think.

Good light:
What is classed as good light will vary depending on what you’re photographing. Great landscapes often come from strong directional light which casts long shadows. Portraits are best taken in soft, overcast light where shadows are few and far between.

Bad light:
Just like good light, what one photographer considers bad light might be perfect for another. Knowing what you shoot and when to shoot it is a skill that can be learned just like any other.

No Light:
Without light we don’t have any photos but with today’s digital cameras able to shot in extreme low light, it’s very rare to be left with no light at all. It’s all too easy to confuse the quantity of light with the quality of light, night time shots can be just as magical as day time photos.


Direction of light:
Where the sun is in relation to your camera can have a dramatic impact on the scene. The lower it is in the sky, the longer the shadows it casts.
Keeping the sun over your shoulder will make colours richer and shadows more pronounced.

Closing the lens aperture down to a big number (e.g. f/22) will give the sun a natural star burst effect.

Looking directly into the sun is dangerous for your eyes but with very careful use of your camera it can yield amazing results.NOTE: DSLR users should avoid looking at the sun through their viewfinders as it can damage your sight. Using “live view” is the way to go


Gavin Hoey