Posts tagged ‘namibia’

August 7, 2013

Exercise: Variety with a low sun

by Suzy Walker-Toye

In this exercise, p142, we are demonstrating advantages to shooting when the sun is low, so called magic hour. The light is golden and lovely but from which angle should we shoot? I think the photos get more interesting when we consider all the different angles.

Frontal Lighting: With the sun behind the camera, striking the subject fully. The lighting can appear intense (or flat because the shadows stretch out behind the subjects, be careful not to get your shadow in the photo as I did here in the second photo)!

Frontal Lighting, the sun is behind me

Frontal Lighting, the sun is behind me

Side Lighting: The sun to the left or right will make strong shadows on half of the subject, great for bring out textures but it can be a little harsh if overdone.

Side Lighting

Side Lighting

Side Lighting

Back Lighting: Shoot towards the light (don’t look at the sun though as it can damage your eyes). Interestingly using a higher f-number increases the number of points in the sun ball. This style of lighting is best of subjects with in interesting shape for the silhouette.

Back lighting

Back lighting

Edge Lighting: A special condition for shooting towards the sun where the sun is not behind the subject (usually not in the frame at all, although I choose to keep it within the frame in these tree photos, I included the lion photo again from exercise: measuring exposure to show the sun doesn’t have to be included). The sun hits the edge of the subjects to create a strip of light along the edge of the subject to define it from the background.

Edge Lighting

Edge Lighting

Edge-lit Lion

August 5, 2013

Exercise: Measuring Exposure

by Suzy Walker-Toye

And now onto section four – which is all about light. The following quotes seem appropriate here:

Light makes photography. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography. – George Eastman

Light meters read; photographers interpret. – Catherine Jo Morgan

That’s what this first exercise (p131) is designed to explore. Interpreting the light and choosing the exposure which best expresses your intent for the photo. Here are a few photos where the exposure is deliberately darker or lighter than average.

For each of these photos I choose to under or over exposure some part of the photos to achieve the look I was going for.  The first four I’m underexposing and the second for I’m over exposing.


The lion in the first photo was edge lit (there’s an exercise on p142 coming up about varieties of lighting with a low sun angle) so the actual lion is shown more as an lion-shape because it is underexposed. In the second photo, shot in the cenotes, the focus is on the amazing light beams that shine in through the surface opening. The rest of the image is somewhat under exposed to emphasise this. The coral inside the cave was being lit from a shaft of light from above and the rest of the cave was much darker, if I had not under-exposed that it would have lost much of its atmosphere. The iconic shape of Ankor Wat in Cambodia is brought out in silhouette by underexposing the building against a lovely sunrise coloured sky.


The brightness in the dandelion brings out its fluffy white texture by being slightly backlit. The overall scene of my back garden in the snow is very bright because the snow & sky are both very white. The bright white sand in the photo of the sting ray contrasts with the dark ray very well to emphasise the lovely shape of his tail. And lastly, the sky in the photo of the statue of Neptune in Florence was brilliant white, with a white statue and white sky I exposed for the statue to bring out the textures.

The second part of the exercise on p131 is to take bracketed shots of several scenes (which means take the correct exposure and some under and over exposed versions either side of that, there is usually a bracketing feature on most cameras to do this automatically). Then we can look at the set and see if any of them are actually better slightly under or over exposed. My camera was bracketing with the chosen exposure first then two under exposures and two over exposures, which is how I’ve displayed them below. I’ve removed the really blown out last over exposures though because for everything but the last two rows (the interiors) they were just horrible. I think they all worked best as the proper exposures however if I was going to say over or under as next best thing I think the interiors worked better sightly over exposed and the outdoors sunrise/set ones work better slightly under exposures.

July 8, 2012

Assignment 1: Contrasts – archive version

by Suzy Walker-Toye

This assignment is presented as a series of contrasting pairs of words. I had decided how to respond to this assignment before I had got to the chapter on contrasts in Michael Freemans book. In that chapter (p34) it discussed this assignment as an 1920s art experiment and the results were all completely disparate photographs showing the different words. I had already decided I wanted my whole project to be a series of similar subjects. So as a personal exercise I went through my back catalogue to find examples to present to you in the style of the original experiment. 8 pairs of words and one image that has two word (black & white in this case). Hover the mouse over the images to see what the photo represents. Click on the images to see the gallery of larger images.

July 4, 2012

Exercise: Cropping

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The final exercise in part one (before the assignment) is about cropping your photos to be more pleasing. In fact, you can even think about how/if you’ll crop your photo as you’re taking the shot. For example, I often know before I take my photo that I’ll be cropping it square so I compose with that in mind. Anyway here are three different cropping examples where I show the photo being cropped and the final result.

When shooting these Zebra in Namibia I was on one side of the watering hole, I couldn’t physically get any closer and I wanted to draw attention to the animals and their reflections so I’ve chosen to crop down my image to panorama format. You can see the crop outline from the original image below.

For the square shot above I framed the photo with cropping square in mind. Pity I didn’t get it as straight as I would have liked – as you can see from the cropping below I also had to rotate the cropping square slightly. In my defence I was sliding down an indoor sand dune!

This rather abstract photo of yellow tube sponges was also shot with a square in mind, as you see from the cropping screenshot there isn’t much else in the photo outside the crop.

July 3, 2012

Exercise: Vertical and horizontal frames

by Suzy Walker-Toye

The exercise on p62 presupposes that most photographers will mainly choose pick horizontal format for their photo as a starting point (because in general its easier to take a horizontal photo with most cameras). It is designed to emphasise vertical compositions can be more pleasing in certain circumstances and not to struggle to fit everything into a horizontal frame. I find that with my iPhone and my underwater camera that it is actually the vertical that is my go-to format. Sometimes I shoot both formats when I either cannot decide or have started off in one format before deciding it’d look better there other way. I show here a range of subjects, some look better in horizontal and some look better in vertical. The exercise calls for 20 photos of each which seems a little overkill to me so apologies if this post takes a while to load, I didn’t put all 40 photos up but there are plenty to illustrate the point. I have tried to minimise this by only showing a few examples in full (with the explanations) and the rest in a gallery format.

This was one example underwater with a decorator crab where my default vertical just didn’t work so well:

In this case it was the opposite, when this little pink sea slug “stood” upwards the vertical format made a much more pleasing composition:

These trees in Namibia work equally well in vertical and horizontal because they are tall enough to work with the vertical and the extra tree balances out the horizontal format:

%d bloggers like this: