Light and digital photography

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It is said the photography is all about capturing the light so I think is useful to learn which time of the day is the best for outdoor photography:

If you MUST take photos in the direct mid-day sun and you can not move the subject in an open shade (say it must be near a fixed object or there is no shade available) there are still some things you can do:

Speaking of flashes, another thing you must do is to avoid using the on-camera flash at all costs, it will ruin your photos: the light source is too close to the lenses and will produce bad shadows, a flat image and a very strong direct light. Due to the position it is also very likely you will get the undesired "red eye" effect. On-camera flash will also beat your cat and kill your goldfish (kidding!). Of course, if you are in pitch-black and the only available flash is the on-camera one, take the photo with it, a bad photo is better than no photo, but don't have big expectations about the result.

[flash]A better option is to use an external flash, with its additional benefits:

[wb]Regarding the light, there is also an important in-camera setting called White Balance, which a surprisingly large number of camera users do not take advantage of. In addition to the intensity or direction, an important characteristic of the light is its temperature: for example the temperature of the sun light is about 5200K (with slight variations during the day), the light temperature in the shadows is about 7000K or the temperature of the light coming from a bulb (tungsten) is about 3200K.

Probably you saw in many cases your photos looking blueish or yellowish: this is caused by a wrong setting for the white balance. If you set the light temperature to a lower value than in reality, the image will have a blue tint (colder) and if you set it to a higher value the tint is yellow (warmer). With the perfect setting the white is supposed to look white, not blue or yellow.


When shooting in RAW format the white balance is not an issue, you can correct it easily when importing, but for some reasons you may prefer (I do) shooting in JPEG (smaller file size, writing speed, less post-processing, etc.) and then setting it right before taking the photo is important. While the new cameras produced these days do a better job with automatically detecting the light temperature and setting the white balance accordingly, it is far from perfect so manual adjustment it useful. You can also take advantage of White Balance for special effects, making the photo colder or warmer on purpose.

Some cameras have the ability to set a custom value for White Balance: put a white surface (a sheet of paper) in front of your camera and tell it "this is white".

So consider the best time of the day for taking the photos, make the best in-camera setting and the difference will be visible.


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