Category Archives: 19 The time of day

Exercise: Cloudy weather and rain

The brief:

For the first part of this exercise photograph the same view in sunlight and under cloud. You can do this at different times or on different days. Choose two or three different subjects such as a building, a person, and a street scene. Note the difference in exposures. Keep the white balance set to sunlight/daylight.

Building - sunny

Fig 01 – Building – sunny
f6.3, 1/100, 26mm, ISO 200

Building - cloudy

Fig 02 – Building – cloudy
f5.6, 1/125, 24mm, ISO 400

In order to be able to handhold my camera I had to bump up my ISO to 400 for the cloudy shot and also had to open the aperture by a third of a stop. The cloudy image (fig 02) is quite a bit bluer than the sunny image (Fig 01) and gives a feeling of cold, which it was as I recall.

Fig 03 - Rob - Sunny

Fig 03 – Robert – sunny
f3.2, 1/500, 50mm, ISO 100

Robert - cloudy

Fig 04 – Robert – cloudy
f2.5, 1/100, 50mm, ISO 200

Fig 03 was taken in the early afternoon when the sun was still quite high in the sky. My son is positioned with his back to the sun and the sun has cast a warm glow on his complexion even though he is backlit and there is a bit of edge lighting on the right side of his face. Fig 04 was taken about one hour before sunset on an overcast day. I actually do quite like this light as it wraps around the subject and doesn’t cause any racoon-like shadows under the eyes. The sun, if visible, would have been behind and to the right of my son. Fig 04 definitely has cooler tones.

Fig 05 - Alley Patio - sunny

Fig 05 – Alley Patio – sunny
f8, 1/80, 35mm, ISO 200

Fig 06 - Alley Patio - overcast

Fig 06 – Alley Patio – overcast
f6.3, 1/100, 18mm, ISO 200

Fig 05 and 06 feature the same scene taken at different angles. In fig 05 the shadows from the umbrella and garbage containers are clearly visible. In fig 06 no shadows are visible with the exception of those below the green container holding discarded car tyres. The colours in fig 06 are also a tad more saturated.

For the second part of the exercise take three photographs outdoors, on an overcast day, that make good use of the enveloping, shadowless light. Look for some detail that has pronounced relief, such as the gnarled roots of an old tree. Also look for an object with a strong colour.

Fig 07 - Gnarled roots

Fig 07 – Gnarled roots
f2.5, 1/40, 50mm, ISO 200

Coming back from a gallery exhibition, I found myself tripping over these tree roots that were breaking up some of the pavement. Luckily I had my camera with me so I quickly composed a few shots of these gnarly roots. It was overcast and the light is quite flat. The image would definitely look better if there was early morning or late afternoon raking light hitting the roots which would provide a bit of shadow and depth to the image.

Fig 08 - Bird house

Fig 08 – Bird house
f5.3, 1/80, 42mm, ISO 200

The bird house in fig 08 has both texture and colour. The colours are quite saturated under the overcast sky, while the texture is sadly lacking. No shadows are visible around the raised orange flowers and butterfly and the wood appears quite smooth in this flat light.

Fig 09 - Hostas

Fig 09 – Hostas
f5, 1/15, 36mm, ISO 200

Fig 09 features the winter textures of the hostas shrub. No shadows are visible and what could have been an interesting tangle of vegetation is quite flat with little contrast.

For the third part of the exercise, you will need rain… Rain can produce interesting visual effects: glistening pavements, lots of reflections, patterns of raindrops on glass, ringlets as rain strikes water, a misty appearance to landscapes, and so on. A rainbow is a special bonus.

Fig 10 - Rain abstract  f8, 1/100, 55mm, ISO 400

Fig 10 – Rain abstract
f8, 1/100, 55mm, ISO 400

This is a photo of a car park taken from inside a car. It forms a nice abstract with the tonal variations of the grey objects in the foreground and the green tones of the trees in the background, with a touch of blue and yellow accent colours on camera right.

Fig 11 - Rain and mist

Fig 11 – Rain and mist
f8, 1/160, 55mm, ISO 400

Taken on the same day, it was raining quite heavily and the mist was coming in over the mountains and settling in the cove just up ahead. The roads are glistening and cars’ tail lights are reflecting in the surface of the road. The colours are all deeply saturated.


Exercise: Variety with a low sun

The brief:

You can choose any subjects for this project, but they must be in sunlight. Take as many pictures as possible, but aim to produce four as a final result as follows:

  • frontal lighting, with the sun behind the camera, striking the subject fully
  • side lighting, with the sun to the left or right. More or less half of the subject will be lit, half in shadow.
  • back lighting, shoot towards the light.
  • edge lighting, this is a special condition for shooting towards the sun, in which the sun is outside the viewfinder frame and the edge of the subject is lit.

It had snowed during the night (which provided a nice bokeh in some of my photos) and I persuaded my youngest son who had just returned from a trail run up the mountain to pose for me in the back garden. The photos were taken just a little over an hour before sunset and shot with daylight white balance. The only post processing involved was cropping.

Fig 01 - frontal lighting

Fig 01 – frontal lighting
f2.5, 1/4000, 50mm, ISO 100

The sun, even at this low angle is still strong, so I had my son face the sun directly and turn his head just a tad towards me. The light is quite harsh. With the focal point on my son, the background is thrown into shadow.

Fig 02 - side lighting

Fig 02 – side lighting
f2.5, 1/2000, 50mm, ISO 100

The side lighting creates a more dramatic look with half the face in the shadows, but is still a bit harsh. There is definitely more visual interest than in the frontal lighting image. It would have been nice to have a reflector handy to get rid of the dark shadow under his eye on camera right.

Fig 03 - back lighting

Fig 03 – back lighting
f2.5, 1/2000, 50mm, ISO 100

I have noticed previously when taking backlit photos that there always seems to be an atmospheric haze to the image, which is quite visible in this photo. The sun has cast a bit of a rim light around my son’s head and shoulders creating a nice separation from the background (a walnut tree). With the sun positioned behind him – even though he is standing fully in the sun – I’m seeing a slight blue cast to the photograph. A switch to cloudy white balance would have warmed the image slightly.

Fig 04 - edge lighting

Fig 04 – edge lighting
f2.8, 1/640, 50mm, ISO 100

A slight swivel on the heel for my son and I have (hopefully) edge lighting. The sun is still behind my son, but the light is now wrapping around the side of his head, ear, neck and shoulder (camera right side) and creating a nice jawline. The edge light is a soft light.

Exercise: Light through the day

The brief:

To photograph one scene from dawn to dusk. Fine a landscape location with a fairly definite subject that will catch the sunlight even when the sun is close to the horizon. It needs to offer a good, clear view that is lit throughout the day. Try and keep the composition exactly the same for all the photographs. Try and take one picture per hour and more at the end of the day when the light is changing faster.

For this exercise I chose to place my tripod outside my front door and shoot up the street, knowing that the north side of the street would definitely get sunlight and the mountains in the distance would create a bit of a background. The view from my deck in my back yard would have been one of garage rooftops, although the sun would have been more interesting on that side. Our days are fairly short here in Canada already. On this day, 30 November, 2014 the sun rose at 07h45 and set at 16h16. The path of the sun through the sky at this time of the year is approximately 110 degrees only as can be seen from the screen shot I made from the Photographer’s Ephemeris below. The light orange line is the sunrise and the dark orange line represents sunset.

Photographer's Ephemeris - Movement of the sun on 30 November, 2014

Photographer’s Ephemeris – Movement of the sun on 30 November, 2014

The photos were taken in a north-westerly view. The houses across the road are due north, while the road runs in an east-west direction. My first photo was taken bright an early at 06h08, and as one can see, it is still pitch black outside. The only available light is from the single streetlight outside.

Fig 01 - Time 06h08

Fig 01 – Time 06h08
f3.5, 13 sec, 18mm, ISO 100

By 07h01 we are just approaching the start of civil twilight where the blue of the sky is becoming visible. The streetlights are still on.

Fig 02 - Time 07h01

Fig 02 – Time 07h01
f3.5, 3 sec, 18mm, ISO 100

Fifteen minutes after sunrise (fig 03). Unfortunately I was shooting on the northern side of the house and therefore did not get any of the sunrise colours. The sun’s rays has not reached any of the houses yet.

Fig 03 - Time 08h01 (15 minutes after sunrise)

Fig 03 – Time 08h01 (15 minutes after sunrise)
f3.5, 1/80, 18mm, ISO 100

By 09h01 (fig 04) the sun’s rays have illuminated the northern side of the street, although there are some low shadows against the buildings, all the roofs are bathed in sunlight.

Fig 04 - Time 09h01

Fig 04 – Time 09h01
f8, 1/100, 18mm, ISO 100

By 10h01 (fig 05) the northern side of the street is fully bathed in sunlight and the western end of the road is starting to receive some sunlight on the southern side of the street.

Fig 05 - Time 10h01

Fig 05 – Time 10h01
f8, 1/200, 18mm, ISO 100

By 11h00 (fig 06) sunlight is breaking through the gaps of the houses on the southern side of the street (the two triangular patches of light on the snow) as the sun continues to rise.

Fig 06 - Time 11h00

Fig 06 – Time 11h00
f8, 1/200, 18mm, ISO 100

By noon (fig 07) the sun is directly behind the house as can be seen by the broad sunlight patch in front of the rose bush.

Fig 07 - Time 12h00

Fig 07 – Time 12h00
f8, 1/200, 18mm, ISO 100

By 13h11 (fig 08) the sun was at its peak and cast the widest patch of light on the southern side of the street.

Fig 08 - Time 13h11

Fig 08 – Time 13h11
f8, 1/200, 18mm, ISO 100

By 14h00 (fig 09) the sun is beginning to descend and only a tiny patch of light remains on the snow. Shadows begin to form on the grey house across the road.

Fig 09 - Time 14h00

Fig 09 – Time 14h00
f8, 1/160, 18mm, ISO 100

At 15h00 (fig 10) all sunlight has disappeared from the southern side of the street. Most of the houses on the northern side of the street are in shadow as well, with the exception of the grey house which is at a slightly higher elevation than those further down the street and is therefore catching more sun.

Fig 10 - Time 15h00

Fig 10 – Time 15h00
f8, 1/160, 18mm, ISO 100

By 16h02 the entire street is in shade and some of the houses have begun to switch on their lights.

Fig 11 - Time 16h02

Fig 11 – Time 16h02
f8, 1/30, 18mm, ISO 100

Sunset occurred at 16h16 and the colour is barely visible above the trees in the background

Fig 12 - Time 16h20 - sunset

Fig 12 – Time 16h20 – sunset
f8, 1/10, 18mm, ISO 100

At 16h33 the colours of the sunset intensified and this was the best that displayed from this view. Although the sunset was quite spectacular on the southern side of the house – brilliant red – sailor’s delight and all that…

Fig 13 - Time 16h33

Fig 13 – Time 16h33
f8, 0.4 sec, 18mm, ISO 100

Half an hour after sunset (fig 13) and the streetlights have come one. The houses are in deep shadows and more indoor lights have been turned on.

Fig 14 - Time 16h46

Fig 14 – Time 16h46
f8, 1.6 sec, 18mm, ISO 100

By 17h02 civil twilight has ended and the nautical twilight has begun. The trees are silhouetted against the lingering dark blue sky and the street light casts an eerie orange glow on the icy road and snow.

Fig 15 - Time 17h02

Fig 15 – Time 17h02
f8, 2.5 sec, 18mm, ISO 100