Byron Neslen Southwest Fine Art Photography


Photo Tip 1: Light

Lighting is the most important aspect to photography. That is why I am making it the first photo tip. Photography actually means drawing with light. Lighting can make an average or non-interesting scene very dramatic. If you have a great location but you have poor lighting it will make a poor image. Knowing what is great light and when to photograph that light is the key to successful images. What is going on with the sky plays a big part in outdoor shooting. An overcast sky is great because it softens the light. This is key in the desert southwest because the light is so harsh. Early morning and late afternoon can be the best time to shoot. Weather conditions can play a key role. Inclement weather can be a great time to shoot. Much to contrary belief I find a clear blue sky to be some of the worst light; especially between 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Even a few high clouds can add a sense of drama to dull clear blue sky. Study how other photographers capture the light. Pay attention to light even when you are not shooting and you will begin to see how lighting is so important.

A photographer with poor equipment can make stunning images while a photographer with the best of equipment can make poor images and it all has to do with light. I am not saying equipment is not important but that light is the most important element to photography. When I was teaching at Phoenix College the second assignment that I gave my students in photo 1 was a light assignment. The subject could be anything but light must be used in a creative and effective way in the photograph. In many photo magazines and publications most of the articles are on equipment, lens, cameras etc. However I don't think enough space is dedicated to lighting. I feel that if you could only talk about one subject in photography light would be that subject.

The first images of the slideshow will be black and white. With black and white you have a series of gray values so you can more readily see the value lighting has in the image. You are forced to look at the value of light because you have no color. When I was a student at Phoenix College I was forced to take black and white photography my first few semesters. This forces you as a student to perceive how the light is playing a role in the composition of the subject. I have grown to appreciate how wonderful black and white is but more importantly than that it trains you to observe how light falls on different subjects and to study light even when not photographing it.

The next page that follows is going to be a slideshow of images. I would recommend that you take control of the slideshow and go at your own pace. By the thumbnails on each side are a - and +. Use those to proceed through the images. Please mouse over the image and a caption will come up about that image for you to read. This is also true of the regular gallery pages in the rest of the website. You can go to the photo tips light gallery by the link below or by mousing over the image above. It will rollover and you can click the image to take you to that gallery. Most non gallery images are rollover image links on this website.