The Last Light of the Day

 

I love to shoot in the last light of the day. I try to have my camera and be out as the sun gets to about 30 minutes before the sun goes down and 15 minutes afterward. So many changes happening so fast makes it a very exciting and adrenaline driven few minutes.

BTW, I think thanks are in order for all the great emails and texts and phone calls from all who were so supportive as the site went down for the third time in 2 weeks. I hope we are back up for good, and working toward more lighting and interesting content. We will also be doing some work on the site to help create pages that will deliver some of our existing content in a different way.

Workshop News: I am off to Norfolk (first time ever in that part of the country), then to Houston, Raleigh and Florida at beginning of December. There are some openings in Houston and Raleigh, and only a few for the 3 day Workshop Mania Blowout workshop in Anna Maria, Florida. See Learn to Light for more information on these workshops.

From around the net:
My friend Selina Maitreya has a good post on Observation. Short and to the point, it is something for us to think about.

Bruce DeBoer asks a great question, “Why Do You Photograph?”

A Photo Editor keeps rocking the great “Ask Anything” column and you must check out the newest one, “Ask Anything – No Luck Applying Standard Rates To My Local Business.”

And if you haven’t discovered Elizabeth Avedon’s blog yet, you should take a few minutes to check out a very upscale and interesting site.

And some shooters to check out this week:

Tim Flach
Chris Floyd (as of this post, NSFW)
David Stoker
Ed McCulluch
Jessica Eaton

And a few posts that you may have missed:
Going Pro is a category here on Lighting Essentials. It is aimed at those who are seriously looking at making the leap. Sometimes that leap is a choice and sometimes it is something that is thrust upon us by the situations of life. If you are thinking about turning professional in the commercial world, you will want to check out this category.

If you are working on a new website, check out these articles on web design for photographers.

Oh, and if things are really sucking right now, here are “10 Nifty, Excellent Excuses for Failing at Photography” for ya. (Come on, don’t get down. Change direction, get motivated, and make stuff happen.)
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There are times of the day when I am drawn to shoot, no matter what else I am doing. The last light of the day is one of my favorites. The color goes warmer, the light becomes more on axis to the camera and the subjects can look into the light without squinting.

It is also metaphorical light… the end of the day, the oncoming shadows, the contrast that helps define and refine edges, the way it creates shadows and highlights and turns a mundane facade into a tableaux of color and shadow.

An older shot of Pat in the Salt River under some pillars we found.

Pat and I were driving in the East Valley and saw these old pillars standing out in the middle of a dry river bed. It simply called to me to make this a set for a shot. By the time we got to the site, the sun was starting to get very close to the horizon. We made some shots that were a bit contrasty for what I wanted, and then the sun went behind a very light cloud that was right on the horizon and the light shifted to a very soft, directional light that bathed the whole set in soft, wrap around light. This image was shot on Ektachrome 200 on a 35MM Nikkor at f4. The original image was printed with de-saturation on a Cibachrome. This image has texture added.

Closing her eyes made the shot.

Baltimore area, Fredrick to be exact. We were winding up a shoot at the workshops and I saw these shadows start to play all over the brick wall. As one of the models was walking toward me she cleared the shadows and came right into the light which was nearly on axis at this point. She was squinting and it wasn’t what I wanted. I asked her to hide her face with her hands and that didn’t work. She closed her eyes for a moment and the shot seemed right to me. I took a few shots with my Kodak P&S.

That warm light and the gesture of the subject mixed with the shadows and the intriguing wall made the shot.

Briana in the Chrysler on a late December afternoon

This head shot was one of those grab shots that makes being a photographer so much fun. We had just finished shooting a full length image on a bridge in late afternoon light. I was packing the bag and the air was a bit chilly so Bri got in the car. I glanced over and saw this wonderful light on her face. I practically dumped the bag out getting the camera and zoom (Canon 70-200MM 2.8L), and zoomed out to fill the frame with her face.

The light is warm, soft and adds a bit of a glow to the shot. I had Bri lean on the door and look toward the light. Coaxing her slowly toward me, the face was fully lit, and the eyes had a wonderful sparkle to them.

The sun was so low on the horizon that I only got a few shots off before it simply went away.

Shot on my 2G iPhone, these images were taken right as the sun hit the horizon

Shot on my 2G iPhone, these images were taken right as the sun hit the horizon

Did I mention I love my iPhone camera? This is one reason why. It is there with me all the time. (No, it is not hooked up to any phone carrier, I only use it for the camera – and the music and the wifi.)

On the beach in Florida

On the beach in Florida

These last two shots are done with a strobe to bring in the front light to match the back-lit subject. This shot was taken on the beach in Florida, and is the Gulf of Mexico off the shores of Anna Maria Island. You can see the sun in the shot. It has about 2 minutes from being gone, and I wanted it in the shot. A small speedlight was used to light her up, with the exposure being 2 stops under the ambient to make sure that the sun was not blown out and the colors rich.

Briana in Florida after the sunset.

Briana in Florida after the sunset.

Waiting for the sun to already set can result in a fun shot with a lot of color. It also can create a lot of heartburn as it is now pretty dark and the light is changing really, really fast. I used the sketching method to find my ambient and then dialed the strobes down to be nearly even to the ambient exposure of the sky and reflection. Two strobes were used – one for a main and one for a rim light to add some drama to the shot as well as give the subject some separation from the background.

As these days get shorter and we have shorter daylight with which to shoot, it may be a good thing to shoot right to the end. Try some of these late day shots for your work, and share them with us over at the Lighting Essentials Flickr Forum.

As always, thanks for following along. If you are looking to do a workshop, check out Learn to Light and if you want to follow along with me at Twitter, well here’s your chance.

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About 

This is a place for photographers.

Hi, I'm wizwow - also known as Don Giannatti. Photography has been the focus of my life for most of my adult years. I have written three books for Amhearst Media (available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble: keyword 'don giannatti'. Lighting Essentials is my flagship blog and e-zine with a slightly different slant than most photography related sites. If you are interested in becoming a better photographer, check out Project 52 Pros.

Thanks for visiting.

4 Comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of morning light,too.
    Great post,Don.
    Great selection of images to illustrate this info!

  2. I recently took a photo trip to the Grand Canyon and was lucky to arrive at Yavapai Overlook just as the sun was above the horizon. The tourists were packed two to three deep shoulder-to shoulder along the overlook. I settled for an outcropping overlooking the mayhem. Within a minutes after the sun set I found that I was nearly the only one left.. and they missed an amazing lightning filled thunderstorm pour over the rim.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sundevilstormin/5055350835/

    And sensor sensitivity these days greatly extends the magic of the magic hour

  3. natural light is good for Photography especially late afternoon or early morning just as the sun is peaking from the sky. Provides a different aspect of photography, specifically landscape photography.