Tag Archives: Let there be light

Let There Be Light: A Light Study

What started as a photo-a-day challenge for a month over a year ago has become a daily practice, a hobby, and maybe even a passion for me.  I’ve noticed how my photographic eye has changed over time and how I am now thinking carefully not only about the subject of my photos, but also playing with framing, considering the rule of thirds, thinking about foreground and background, and studying light and its influence on the photo.

Today…Black Friday in the commercial, frenzied bargain hunting world…had us out early on this rare rainy day-after-Thanksgiving checking out bargains and enjoying time spent together.  And after the errands and lunch, I desperately wanted to go to the beach on this stormy (at least by our standards) day.

As we drove along the coast toward home, I was on the lookout for an interesting place to stop with a clear view of the beach.  We frequently go to the same beach, so today’s goal was to find another place–a new view–to explore.

We stopped at Ponto.  And it was surprisingly crowded.  The waves were big and the surfers plentiful.  People were in bathing suits, full wetsuits, shorts and flip flops, and boots and jackets…it is Southern CA after all.


I already had my eye on the jetty in the distance.  I knew I wanted to climb up on the rocks to get a great view of the sea.  But on the way I was sidetracked by the collection of lifeguard towers and found myself trying many different angles to capture the light and the ocean in the background.  I was struck by the dramatic differences in light and shadow. All of the photos were taken with my iPhone and are unedited and without any filters.

lifeguard tower study

I know the rule about having the sun at your back for the best photos, but sometimes I find myself wanting to shoot into the sun.  I love the way that shooting into the light creates silhouettes like in this picture of my husband looking out into the ocean.

beach silhouette

And I also played with angling the light behind me to capture more light…and in this case, the movement of the water and waves as well.

waves crash

When I pivoted 180 degrees in the other direction, the light my camera captured changed dramatically.

sun on water

Understanding the light and being aware of the source of the light makes a dramatic difference in photography.  By studying my photos I’ve learned some techniques that help me make more intentional choices rather than only happy (or unfortunate) accidents.  It’s fun to play around and see how shifts in lighting change the photos.

Light can change the mood and tone of the photo, make it more pensive, more dramatic, or lighter and more playful.  It changes colors, brightening or softening, creating depth and layers.  Earlier today I was trying to capture raindrops with my iPhone, without much success…because light and reflection were working against me.  I just couldn’t get enough contrast behind the drops to make them show through my lens.  But you can be certain that I will keep trying…whenever the next rainy day comes along.

What have you learned from the light today?