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Photographing Natural Light

Natural Light, Color and Nature Photography.

Color photography is a delicate relationship between the colors of subjects, color quality of light, and colors of various films. The source of color is light. A nature photographers ability to control the colors in nature photography for nature prints.

Color can only appear when there is light. Quality light adds color to your subject.

A simple example:

I have 2 different sweat shirts, one is medium blue, the other red. Both measure 18% Grey on the light meter reading. Place these in a scenic location with no windows, light and then tell me the color of either. Why would you need a source of light to see which color is which? Because, without light there is no color. Even if there is a small amount of available light it will only show form, shape and curves. Until the light's intensity is increased we can not see (even up close) lines.

Color of light temperature and intensity allows photographers freedom for expression. To be creative, photographers must learn to communicate visions of nature's beauty in the natural world with nature's light and natural color quality.

Learn to see light and tonal values in terms of application to our film. A very important thing in landscape photography, why I made bold type.

The particular film you use will react to light, natural elements and color differently than the variety of films on the market. It is the nature photographers responsibility to test film to know the films characteristics. Then natural light photography can be made that is true and realistic visions of the natural world.

The source of natural light I am talking about in this article is the sun. All people have seen the beauty of landscapes in nature photography. Natural light can create stunning displays in photos. Outdoor light is filtered through high clouds. Natural color you view in a sunset is light reflections off all surfaces exposed to it, changing and turning the colors of light. If you view a mountain peak with snow and the sunset (light) is red, the mountain rock will have a pink hue and pink snow. The color of light falling over the mountain is red, so add red to white snow and you see pink in your high quality nature images.

This should be fairly obvious to photographers and is, except one thing. Our eye will adjust quickly to this special quality of light. We may not think there is a difference, but there certainly is. Film will capture only what it see’s, nothing more. This is why we as nature photographers must know this occurs. Film only records that which it is exposed to, no adjustment, as that is our duty as a competent photographer.

What happens when the color of light isn't so extreme?

For example, going out early along morning light scenes in natural places we come across a large pink flower on the forest area under a canopy of trees. Green tree foliage shades the flower background for a low contrast scene. Great for nature photos close-up color photography, forest and mountain scenery. Light falling in shadows has a blue cast if reflected from open blue sky. Foliage (leaves) of the trees like a filter turn the light quality green. What will this do to color of the blooming flower? We know the color is pink but the film doesn't. You, the artist must make the call. Green leaves will act as a filter lowering the intensity of the pink flower's color or washing out the color. A color correction filter would be required to obtain the proper colors of these types of scenes. This is exactly why aunt Martha looks green in that photo under the canopy of trees!

Another nature example for me is finding groves of orange Aspen trees in autumn colors in fall scenic areas for spectacular fall color photos of natural landscapes in California. Pictures of fall foliage beside the Aspen grove. We have colorful autumn leaves in morning light. Blue from shade would be gone because of the gold color light. Using visualization techniques in nature photography art of seeing the landscape, beautiful color in photography. Nature scenery in mountains, in autumn color landscape photography, the use of a warming filter would display over filtering. The autumn scene foliage in your nature photos would look too orange (hot) and rather odd to the viewer.

It pays to know what you are doing!

Natural light photography is color of light and light quality. Existing light photography is intensity of light, the amount of light people have to work with. This photographic process applies to nature close-up and wide angle landscapes.

We nature photographers, online artists need to know these and a large variety of color based photo situations so we have better choices (and resources) for artistic and creative expression in our nature photography. Professional knowledge means choice, with choices artists gain more power. Creative photographers must exercise control. Learn how to make existing light photography and natural light photos predictable, just like scenic photographer Ansel Adams did. Ansel Adams after over 50 years of field study and research was right. Photographic knowledge makes all the difference.

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Nature photography Copyright © 2006 Dale Proctor, All Rights Reserved. No form of reproduction, copying or saving digital image files, prints, print making or the alteration or manipulation of digital image files is permitted. Unauthorized use of these digital images will be prosecuted to the full extent of federal copyright laws. Information to buy fine art prints, photographic art, photography or stock photos of California Pictures Southern California photographer Dale Proctor