Project 44: low sun

[minimum 4 photos]

When the sun is close to the horizon at the beginning and end of the day. Every quality of light changes: direction; diffusion; colour; intensity. It offers 4 major varieties of lighting quality – frontal, side, back and edge.

Frontal lighting

1. Frontal lighting, with the sun behind the camera, striking the subject fully, casts no shadows and brings out all the differences in colour and tone at their strongest, as well as intense reflections. Shadows are responsible for modeling and texture, and help with perspective. Frontal shots tend to be flat and 2D. The swan (above) is lit from the front and slightly overhead which almost bleaches any feather detail, reflects the bird in the water and creates a slight shadow on it’s neck.

Side lighting

2. Side lighting, with the sun to the left or right – half subject lit and half in shadow. It is casting a shadow to the left of the two ladies.

Portpatrick Sunset

3. Back lighting, shoot towards the light. Freeman (2004) talks about 4 types of lighting conditions – 1. directly into the sun, 2. into the sun’s reflection, 3. slightly off-axis, 4. rim lighting – a dark background that throws up the lit edges of the subject in sharp contrast. High contrast. Brightness of the sun causes loss of richness in the colour, subject lacks full detail. There is just a slight texture detail on the higher rocks in the foreground. Meanwhile the only part of the fence is illuminated in the image below with the beach hut silhouetted with the sun behind.

Back lighting

4. Edge lighting. The sun is outside the viewfinder frame and the edge of the subject is lit.

Edge lighting

Meanwhile only the outline edge of the swan’s neck and head is lit by the sun, with some highlighting on it’s back. This shows the shape of the swan (below).

Edge lighting

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