The Essence of Light
The essence of light is very important to the final composition of a piece of art work. Whether it is the cool light of dawn to the warm light of evening. Cloudy days create its own nuances of lighting. But in order to observe these various light patterns, you must sit and observe. Remember also that the sun rises in the East and settles in the West.
As one awaits the coming of dawn the surrounding landscape is cast in darkness. From were I stand the sun will rise behind me to my right. With the coming of the sun a brightness begins to occur over the land, but very subtly. Just imagine a scene of a lake surrounded by hills. An island is in the middle background. The sun does not burst from the horizon. Other factors come into play. These would be hills and trees that block the sun’s ray’s path. Quite suddenly a small patch of light will appear on the far hill in the background. The background hills are the highest of the surrounding landscape. As you watch the patch of light evolves, spreading over the hill. Then off to the right, another patch of light appears. Very slowly spreading, with the ascent of the morning sun. The shorelines of the lake and island are still in deep shadow.
The sky is getting brighter now, but still having the light intensity of the surrounding area. With the edging of the sun up on the horizon, the background hills are losing more shadows. Then a glimpse of light appears on the near hills to my left. These are the hills that cascade down to the lake shore. Now we are getting into some composition possibilities. The glow of light upon a tree to my left reflecting into the water with a dark background creating contrast. The right shoreline is now receiving sunlight filtering through the trees to highlight the top edge of the trees. There are still dark shadows in the scene.
You must also realize the angle of your scene in relation to the path of the sun’s rays and the angle of the light that is low at this time in the morning. Go into a dark room with a small light of some sort. Maybe a candle. Place it at a comfortable height. Take a three dimensional object. Place it in the palm of your hand. Hold it off center horizontally to the source of light. Now observe what is receiving light and what is remaining in shadow. Now turn your object slightly and observe the change in light and shadow. Keep experimenting with this and I think your understanding of lighting with be better.
Back to our scene now. The hills in the background are now alight from the sunlight. The sun is still filtering through the trees to touch upon our described scene. The shadows are becoming less. Let us look at the island now. The left top edge of this island is receiving some sunlight. The evergreens on the left side of the island are edged in light at their tops. The right part of the island still in shadow. You will now observe the reflection of light on the waters surface. The shorelines are becoming more light enhanced as the sun continues to advance. There are now only small pockets of shadow to be found as the sun clears the obstacles before it. The advancing sunlight is slowly engulfing the island. The sky in the background is more intense highlight than the landscape. Before long the entire scene before you is now bright. As an artist you will want to capture the scene before it reaches that intensity. To me, when everything is well lit up, it has lost its appeal.
The end of the day is in reverse. You start out with a bright scene. We are not talking about sunsets here. It is the relationship of the setting of the sun to the landscape. Again I am placing the sun behind me for this discussion. Same scene as above. The sky in the background continues to darken. The shorelines of the lake are beginning to fall into shadow. The left side of the lake may be in shadow, while the right shoreline is still receiving light. As the sun descends to the horizon, you will observe some ugly shadow patterns of shadows. This could be in the form of straight line of shadow on the trees edging the lake’s shoreline. This does not look good. Always remember that as the sun lowers, hills and tree line alter the path of sunlight. This occurs both morning and evening. Thus the weird shadow patterns occur twice each day, morning and more predominantly in the evening. Once the sun has dropped below the horizon the lighting becomes quite even. There is a short period now to create your composition before total darkness comes.
The lighting of daytime is replaced by a magic lighting whereby the colors will take on a glow of their own. Rock structures become alive in color. It is an experience worth seeing. The wind normally becomes still, thus creating wonderful reflections upon the water. The magical moment. There are other forms of lighting such as side lighting and back lighting. I have used this type of lighting to great effect. Cloudy days give you their own unique lighting. The colors become saturated and there are no shadows. Now unique compositions can be had when there is a break in the clouds and sunlight enhances certain parts of your composition. This truly can be effective.
Whether morning sunrise or evening sunsets, both can give you an assortment of color in the sky. The colors will range from magenta, pink, red and purple. At times I have had the evening sun cast various colors on my rocky shoreline scenes. Thus an exotic scene is created. Just a matter of being there.
I hope I have created a better understanding of lighting on landscapes. Until next time happy trails!
The mist is rising
From dark moving waters
Of a river from
Times gone by
Sculptured rocks materialize
Through the fine mist
Tall stately pines
That guard the rugged shorelines
Of the dark moving waters
They were mere saplings
In the time of the voyageurs
Who paddled the dark
Moving waters of the French
Onwards in their yearly journeys
To and from their destinations
The dip of the paddles
The sound of canoes
Slicing through the dark waters
The shear rock walls
Like the halls of time
Echo with voyageur’s songs
A young bull moose
Emerges from the darkness
Of the receding night
Its horns glistening with morning dew
In search of a drink
From the dark moving water
A river otter quietly surfaces
From the dark moving waters
To feed on clams from
The dark river bottom
Cracking open its prize
To feed on the flesh
To be found within
The day is slowly emerging
From the shadows and mist
The eerie lonesome call
Of the Common Loon
Is heard in the distance
A Bald Eagle drifts
The warming air currents
Looking for a meal
To feed its hungry siblings
A warm South wind
Whispers through the trees
The mist has risen
From the dark moving waters
Scattered islands and rocky points
Appear in the morning light
The land is now awaken
To the coming new day
Sunday morning I drove into the Meadowbrook Retirement Home parking lot were my daughter Maryjean works. MJ had just finished her last graveyard shift.We loaded her gear into my Ford Explorer and head for Bell Lake in Killarney Provincial Park.We stopped at Killarney Kanoes to pick up a rental canoe.We rented one of my favorites a Quebecor 17.
We had to carry the canoe and gear over to Johnny Lake and then embarked on our little one night adventure.After a short paddle we had to carry around a small beaver dam.The weather was great and the wind was light.All the campsites we passed were full.Had a beautiful view of Silver Peak.We arrived at the portage into our destination lake Ruth Roy Lake.
Ruth Roy is a beautiful lake with clear turquoise blue water. This is not a small lake with good rock structure along the shoreline.The La Cloche Mountains are on the North shoreline of Ruth Roy.We proceeded to haul the canoe and gear over the portage and were soon on our way again.
When we arrived I was attracted by the shoreline on the right.The above photo is a result of what I observed.The small rocky shoal in the shadows stood out and there was nice lighting also.
MJ and I arrived at the first campsite and we decided that this was a good site to be with a wonderful view overlooking the lake.The only island on this lake is located here.Once the tent was up and everything was unpacked we decided to explore the rest of the lake.Before heading out a young couple canoed past us with there children heading for the next campsite.There are only two campsites available on this lake.
We launched the canoe and proceeded to explore the lake and enjoy the afternoon.We liesurely paddled around the lake noting other locations to photograph.Finally arriving back at camp we made supper and settled down to await the evening photographing.
I will write about this trip in 2 or 3 posts.So until next time happy trails
It was the past Friday that Paul Smith and I came across some new locations up the Westbranch North of Webbwood.We were now 90 km up the Westbranch and exploring new country.The moose hunters were setting up there camps getting ready for the opening of moose season on Saturday.It was a sunny day,but the wind was creating havoc and towards sundown was still blowing.It was scratch day one.
The next day I headed back up alone early that afternoon.When I arrived on location the wind was blowing pretty good.I waited til late evening but to no avail.I headed back home again with no photos.Sunday came and being my youngest grand son’s birthday, I stopped off at my son’s apartment to enjoy the BBQ and wish the little man a happy birthday.He was 1 year old.I hadn’t been on the Internet for a week as I had left my usb modem down South well we were visiting. I logged on an checked my email . My good friend Jan Winthers had emailed me earlier saying he was available for the weekend to go out photographing.I gave Jan a quick call and asked him if he could meet me in an hour.
I met up with Jan and we transferred his photo equipment to my truck. As we were driving up the Westbranch Jan realized that he had forgot his tripod. We have all forgotten something at one time or another. The third day turned out to be a blessing with the wind cooperating for a change.
Late fall brings with it much more subdued colors as the grass and ferns turn brown and rusty red.I myself like this time of year for the challenges it offers.Jan and I were walking along a small lake when we spotted a little island across the way. There was some very interesting lighting come from the side onto the island.The evergreens had wonderful lighting filtering through to break up the dark mass in the background.This creates a background with more detail .The gray color of the dead branches give character to the trees along with the remaining tree growth being highlighted by the sun.Take in the brownish shoreline and you have a very earth tone photo. There is enough reflection in the water to create depth.
I shot this scene with the zoom set at 100 mm and a shutter speed of 0.4 sec @ f 22. You must always be watching for unique lighting and color patterns.
Moving along the shoreline I was attracted by the lighting and colors that you can observe in the above photo. The clump of reddish brown grass was nicely lit by the sun.Light was filtering through the trees in the background creating lovely reflective patterns along with a beam of light hitting the reddish brown grass along the shoreline.I positioned my tripod to put the island of grass in the foreground and the lighted grass on the shoreline in the background.The idea here is to have the reddish brown grasses stand out.
I shot the above photo with a zoom setting 135 mm.The shutter speed was set at 0.5 sec @ f22.
Jan and I had a wonderful day together and I am looking forward to our next outing. Until next time happy trails.