Lighting and Direction in Photography

By Vicki Uthe

Here’s a quick little post as a reminder to keep in mind where the sun is and how it changes everything.

We were in Panama a couple of years ago, hanging out on a beach, when an unusual noise was heard. I looked up and saw some guys racing their horses up and down the beach. So what does any half-decent, self-respecting photographer do?!? That’s RIGHT! I grabbed my camera!

I photographed them racing up and down the beach for a few minutes in the late afternoon. But, it wasn’t until I got home that I realized what I had. It literally looks like I was on two different shoots! Check it out.

As the horses and riders reached the end of their sprint they stopped. I shot into the sun which gave me great backlight, silhouettes, and the mist of the ocean. The color of the whole image is a wonderful, warm, afternoon glow.

The colors came out as a natural sepia tone.

Once the horses and riders passed me, though, in the opposite direction the images change completely.

The afternoon light is still way better than mid-day. But…It doesn’t look like the same shoot.

The silhouettes are gone and the colors are full and rich as well as the details of the subjects.

While I’m in self quarantine, I’ve had time to dive through the archives, which is how I stumbled across this idea. It’s like cleaning out a long-forgotten closet. There is a lot of “junk” but also some real treasures I had forgotten about!

So, go out, keeping in mind healthy social distancing standards, and play with the light.

Happy shooting!

Vickie Uthe is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes.