Do you really think like a Photographer???

Do you really think like a Photographer???

Fishing at Loktak Lake, Manipur

What is it that differentiates an established photographer from the one who is not? What is it that goes on in their minds when they are in action. Let’s try to find some answers by asking few basic questions related to Photography, by defining Photography itself.

Q: What is Photography?

Ans: Many would say photography is an ART, Creativity, this and that and what not.

Not that they are wrong, but, I choose to define Photography as painting with Light.

Now if Photography is painting with Light, it brings two very interesting questions in mind:

Q1. How is a painter different than a Photographer???

A painter creates his master piece by adding pieces of his creativity into an empty Canvas, whereas a Photographer creates a masterpiece by using his creativity to empty a filled canvas. A painter gets to choose what’s to be kept in the frame, but a photographer rather chooses what’s not to keep in the frame.

For example, see the below comparison between a painting and a photograph of the same place:

Picture of Loktak Lake. Couresy; Angana Longjam
Painting of Loktak Lake.
Couresy; Angana Longjam
Fishing at Loktak Lake, Manipur
Loktak Lake, Manipur Photo by: Pankaj Singh

In the above Loktak Lake Painting, the painter had an option to choose, what he wants in the painting. But, a Photographer isn’t always that lucky as in the above picture. He mostly either will have to crop an image to get rid of unwanted elements or wait for the scene to be cleared of the temporary disturbances.

Q2. If instead of just color, Light is used to create a Photograph, how it’s significance can be defined in Photography?

Ans:  Let me repeat the phrase “Photography is painting with Light”. Now it’s the light which is being captured in the process of Photography, may be the light bouncing off hanging clothes, any stupid object, or a person’s face, or creating a beautiful silhouette, etc. So, it’s not just the subject that matters in a photograph, but it’s more about the light that bounces off the subject, defines a photograph.

Silhouette Photo by: Pankaj Singh

For instance, a portrait taken at the same location, at different lighting conditions, will have different feel and impact.

Portrait taken at Sunrise or Sunset will give the feeling of warmth, where as, if clicked in the afternoon, it will give you a true color, but still may not be the best time to shoot a portrait for many reasons. If shot at twilight, it would look cool and if shot in a cloudy day, you will have the perfect diffuser in place for the natural source of light. So, it depends a lot on the time chosen for photography. Well, it all depends on what a photographer is trying to capture.

So, it’s the light which makes a photograph look beautiful or ugly, leading us to the next very important question,

Q: How to break light in to more concrete terms to understand light even better?

Ans: Light available in a scene can be broken down into three concrete variables:

1. Direction of Light

Is it coming from front, side, above or below the subject.

2. Color of Light

Is it Warm or cool, orange or Blue

3. Quality of Light

Is it hard edged with sharp deep shadows or soft and diffused with soft edge or non-existent shadows.

Photo Credit: Inkspace
Hard Edged Shadow Photo Credit: Inkspace
Image Credit: Inkspace
Soft Edged Shadow Image Credit: Inkspace

Learn to match these three variables with the subject matter and you can take a huge leap as a photographer.

Feel free to share your images in the comments and your views on the importance of Light in Photography..