Window Light Recap -- Part II

A short post for Friday. A brief follow-up to Part I of the recap. Last time I was blathering on about the method to my two hour madness of completely different lighting looks in terms of each set, major variations within that setup, and then fine-tuning of the use of light within each major variation. An illustration of how even that tiny bit of fine-tuning makes a completely different image – at least from my point of view. At the end of it all that post was all about getting your head out of a what it is kind of place and putting it into more of a what does it look like at this moment place.

No matter if it's a window light workshop, a studio lighting exercise, a landscape trip, whatever, this is pretty much the key. Getting out of what your mind tells you something is and continuously refining your eye to recognize what it looks like in terms of how the camera sees it. No matter how long you've been at this, continuously exercising and refining your eye is going to make a far bigger difference to your photography than any new camera, lens, or photo-toy.

Today I'll show you another different set-up using the same exact window used last time. Within that setup, the two huge variations of treatment. Let's call the shot at the top treatment one. It's more silhouette but not completely. It's how I like my silhouette-y kind of pictures. I believe that was at f/8. Next up I shot it a whopping four whole stops brighter – treatment two. Holy crap, that's a lot. Whatever happened to that 2 stops more for backlit rule of thumb? Well, rules of thumb are good starting points. They're okay if you don't really know what you want but more times than not you're probably better off treating them as a starting point and varying them wildly based on what kind of feel you're going for in any particular circumstance.

Which rendition is better? Which one is correct? Neither. They're completely different pictures. The both feel different and give the viewer a different impression of the scene. If I asked a randomly assembled group of people which one they liked better I would get half of them that liked the darker, moody one and half that liked the opposite. Even if I had made everything else the same – in this case I didn't. From my perspective this is a decision you as photographer needs to make .

During my minute long blah-blah-blah and suggested starting points for this setup I made a point encouraging participants to go darker than my darkest starting point as well as brighter than where I landed as the two opposite ends of treatments. Surprisingly, as I've seen this week from some of the photographs shared from that mini-workshop, it seems that a lot of people actually did do that. Guess what – they are different too, a few of them really nice photographs. Need something to do on this rainy weekend (that's the forecast for the mid-atlantic)? Find a subject, a window, and challenge yourself to use that light in five completely different setups, each having two distinctly different treatments, and within that, two fine-tuning differences in how your light interacts with the subject. Wanna make it more fun? Use a prime lens instead of your zoom.

RB

Ps. Post-processing same as last time VSCO Film 01 Fuji 800Z preset on import.

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