In This Chapter
Understanding color temperature
The colors of light
Metering light and reflected light
Additional characteristics of light
Light has fascinated photographers since the inception of photography, and the fascination is no less compelling today than it was then. One of the key characteristics that sets images apart is the light—the quality, color, angle, and direction. Waiting for the magical light of sunrise or sunset in an outdoor scene, or setting up evocative studio lighting spells the difference between a run-of-the mill image and a spectacular image. Using the qualities of light, you can set the mood; control the viewer's emotional response to the subject; reveal or subdue the subject's shape, form, texture, and detail, and render scene colors vibrant or subdued.
To get stunningly lit images, it's important to understand the basic characteristics of light and how you can use it to your advantage. This chapter provides a basic foundation for exploring and using the characteristics of light.
Few people think of light as having color until the color becomes obvious, such as at sunrise and sunset when the sun's low angle causes light to pass through more of the earth's atmosphere, creating visible and often dramatic color. However, regardless of the time of day, natural light has a color temperature, and each color, or hue, of sunlight renders subjects differently. Likewise, household bulbs, candlelight, flashlights, ...