The three rules govern the appearance and manifestation of light used for photography purpose. These rules are the base knowledge for the photographers ultimately influencing the rules of creatinglandscape photography.

Manipulating Light into a Photography Asset

1. The light quality

Brighter the light, the softer will it appear inside a photograph. In order to change the quality of lightthe surface of the source must change in size, color and reflection, or it must change the effect of the combination between them. Practically, for the landscape photography, this principle becomes relevant when the sun spreads over the subject of the photo a direct “curtain” of light creating an abrupt contrast.

Contrary, the light of the sun filtered by the clouds and reflected on the blue sky will produce a softer light perfect to underline the details of the landscape. A small source of light, like the Sun compared to the Earth, creates a rough light, with deep shadows and too bright spots without details.

A large light source like the clouded sky produces a dim light, soft, equal…with transparent shadows and sufficient details in the lighted parts of the subject.

2. The reflection

If the light is reflected, in photography, it will borrow the color of the object it reflected on. This happens for example in the Grand Canyon region in the South West of United States.

In this type of canyon carved by waters during millenniums, the light reflected from the one rock wall is spread upon the opposite wall becoming colored and borrowing the copper like nuance. The red-orange light is strictly given by the walls that are not under the direct sun exposure. So if you are on a lookout for a spectacular photographic coloration this is the place to take it.

3. The light intensity

The light intensity on a surface decreases inverse proportional reported to the distance between the light source and the subject. Making the distance double will reduce the light with ¼ reported to the initial intensity. This law is very important in the studio photography where the artificial light can be thus manipulated. However, knowing this physical law is important for any photographer.

How can one find the right light for a landscape photograph? Ansel Adams said: “God created light and separated it in ten photographical areas”. Apart from being funny, the declaration remained in history because of its inherent truth. The light is not easy to manipulate and it compliments the photo only when it accurately covers the right zone that will allow you to capture the best details.


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