Hard Days Light

light reflection on white wall

Hard light vs. Soft light.  For a long time I have to say that I favored the latter.  Mostly because in my commercial work I shot interior photographs and soft light wraps so beautifully around things.  It creates that “painterly” look that makes anything look better.  Honestly, for interior work, it’s easier to deal with if you know what your doing light-wise. I guess I  will always love that soft, directional light for certain subjects.  However, as I now spend a lot of my time wandering the streets of Brooklyn,  I’ve come to appreciate how harder, contrasty light works in this environment.Hard Light on string chair back

To be clear, one has to look for the right time of day to shoot.  There is a big difference between shooting at high noon in August and a clear, cloudless August day at 7pm.  Both angle and color of light are involved. We’ll save the color of light for another post. One of the benefits of hard/direct light in the urban environs is that there is much for light to to pass through and reflect off of. When the time of day/angle of light are right, I spend a lot of time looking for reflections.  My world is full of buildings and windows, cars and trucks, all reflecting light onto and through things.  I get very excited about these situations, as interesting shapes and shadows start to appear.  Hard Light shadow on cinder block of grate

Another bonus is that in these conditions, I can sometimes see through windows from the outside and the interior is lit.  In some cases, I can now balance the interior and exterior light, giving me even more options. Texture, on these days, just jumps out at you, as well.  Shadow shapes become very well defined, but be wary of exposure. Depending on the intensity of this hard day’s light, I tend to revert to the idea of exposing for the highlights and printing for the shadows.  Once again that old pre-digi/film experience comes in handy…hard light reflection triptych



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