Friday, September 16, 2011

P13: throughout the day

Although an optional project and one that repeats a project from TAOP, I thought it would be interesting and useful to go ahead and complete the exercise.  When I first did this for TAOP I was not terribly ambitious in my selection of subject, simply using my back garden as this was convenient:

TAOP: Project 43

This time I have gone slightly further afield, although not too far, using a road junction close to where I live.  This urban landscape has a variety of structures and open spaces, ideal to show how light moves around during the day.  Shooting hourly was not going to be possible, so I opted for every 2 hours during the main part of the day, but every hour from 5 until 8pm when the sun was finally down.  Kit was my full frame 5D2 and the wide end of my 16-35mm lens.  It was not going to be possible to shoot the exact same scene each time, however I was able to use the "bent" lamp post at the top left of the frame as a reference point and keep things reasonably similar









My shooting position is looking down Richard-Strauss Strasse in a Northerly direction.  To my back is a large block of flats and I am surrounded by street furniture of differing types.

As I start to shoot at 7am I am in twilight and so the scene is pretty uniformly illuminated with a soft light.  By 9am this has hardened up into a late summer brightness throwing crisp shadows.  From then until 3pm the scene is brightly lit, the only significant changes being the direction and length of the shadows cast by the lamp posts and traffic lights.  By 5pm the sun has now dropped below the roof line behind me and a shadow is beginning to creep across the road junction.  This shadow extends progressively becoming softer as the light intensity falls until at 8pm all is in shadow and the main light source begins to switch from the Sun to electricity.  Clearly the scene changes most rapidly as the sun approaches the horizon.

There is a striking difference in the scene as the day goes by, the hardness of the solar noon (1pm in Munich)  accentuates the blues and colour seems to pop in the scene.  Later in the day at 7pm the light is softer and the building across the street is still sitting in a little sun.  Personally I like the harder light of noon, especially on a clear day, prefering that to the evening light, which is supposed to be the more photogenic.

I feel that urban landscapes which are defined by hard edges and lines are better defined in strong light, whilst the curves and soft edges of the countryside benefit better from a softer more diffuse light.

Key Learning:

  1. This has reinforced a practice I already follow.  Look at a map prior to going to a location.  Think about where the Sun will be when shooting and ensure the angle I want has the light that I want
  2. Early or late in the day the light changes very much faster than at noon, if I want to shoot at these times I need to be sure what I plan to do before setting up, as I may not have enough time to change position 
  3. Many street subjects look better in harsh rather than soft light

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