The raw material of photography

Michael Freeman (2004) states that:

Light is the key element in photography – it both creates the image and defines the style and feel of a picture.

I had never really thought of light in that way. During TAOP light has usually been a hindrance to me. Poor light often meant that I was unable to get out and complete some of the colour projects sooner than I would have liked. I hope that this part of the course will enable me to use light to my advantage. The camera obscura demonstrates the significance of light to photography. Without light photography would be impossible.

Earlier in the course I’ve learnt how to control the amount of light entering the camera and hitting the sensor, by altering the size of the aperture and shutter speed. A principle that dates back as far as the days of using daguerreotypes.

Freeman (2004) warns modern day photographers that:

it’s important not to get carried away with the technical marvels of digital capture…

I am looking forward to learning how to use light, and shadow, to my advantage.

Digital Capture

Whilst reading Peterson (2004) I learned that an exposure is created by the combination of ISO, aperture and shutter speed. This information is captured on a light sensor. I was interested in finding out the type of sensor in my Canon 7D, which is an APS-C.


Light is made up of a spectrum of colours that our eyes are able to accommodate, whereas a camera is much more sensitive to these variations. Therefore when photographing in differing lighting conditions it is necessary to use teh correct camera settings, to avoid colour casts or a lot of shadow. Light is radiation that can be seen and the different wavelengths of this radiation is interpreted by our eyes as different colours.

Source: Wikipedia

All of the wavelengths combined produce white, our reference point for colour. Colour itself has 3 qualities: hue; saturation; and brightness. I referred to these qualities in 4: Colour.

Sources of light

Light can be produced in many different forms. It can be created naturally by sunlight or fire, or light can also be produced artificially, using fluorescent or tungsten bulbs. These different ways of making light presents a problem in how the camera interprets this on the image sensor.

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