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Ask JoeB

AskJoeB: A good Use of Light?

It's about the light.

It’s about the light.

I recently had Gary, a follower of my blog, submit a photo for a critique. I always like to copy what each photographer had to say since so many people out there have had a similar experience, or have wondered about a part of photography that involves light. Here’s what Gary had to say:

Hello Joe,

I have read your blog for awhile and have been practicing the technique of using window light to create portraits. I know you say window light, specifically north or south window light, is a great way to light your subjects.

I have sent you a portrait of my cat because he is a great subject, doesn’t mind being photographed for hours nor having his picture shared online. My first question is about the light in this photo. The light is pouring down on the cat instead of coming across him. I believe window light needs to be coming from a high window coming across the frame in more of a diagonal fashion. As made famous by the painter Johannes Vermeer.

Is this still a good use of light though? My second question is the placement of the cats face and body in the frame. Taking a second look at the photo, I think I should have placed his eyes more towards the top with his left eye in the exact middle line of the frame. Lastly the image was taken on a Mamiya M645, standard 80mm lens on Fuji Across 100.”

Gary

 

Gary, I too am a great admirer of Vermeer. Since my background is in art rather than photography, I took several classes in Art History and Vermeer is one of the painters we studied for his use of light. It turned out to be serendipitous because my first studio was the first floor in an old house. I also had one of the bedrooms upstairs that happened to face North. At that time, very early in my career (as in the beginning), I couldn’t afford lights so I lit everything including portraits with the light coming into the window. Interestingly enough people really liked the way I was lighting them, not knowing that it was the best possible light I could have used…even if I could have paid for electronic flash.

In my online class with the BPSOP, and in my “Stretching Your Frame of Mind” workshops I conduct around our planet, We work and talk a lot about light. It plays a huge part in taking our images what I refer to as “up a level”.

Btw, when I could afford lights, I still preferred (and still do) North light.

Take a look at this video:

http://www.screencast.com/t/XqcMcFEs5g5s

Gary, I hope this helps, and thanks for sharing it.

Visit my website at: www.joebaraban.com, and be sure to watch for my upcoming workshops in 2016.

Keep sending in your photos and questions to: AskJoeB@gmail.com and I’ll create a video for you.

JoeB

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