Its all about the lighting….


After a shoot with personal trainer, Victoria Wood, she made the comment:-

“who knew that lighting was such a big thing!”

And it go me thinking about this blog…

All we do as photographers is use a device which records light – it’s called a camera.

We use things called “lenses” to focus and manipulate the light – bringing things nearer, or making them look further away, getting everything sharp or blurring out things… it’s our main tool

See where the light is... creating a highlight on Victoria's hair

See where the light is…

However “lighting” is most important.

For landscapes we rely on sun light – or the lack of it – to create the mood. A dull day is infinitely harder to work with than a red skied sunset.

For portraits we can use sunlight, light from windows or ambient light in a building to good effect.

But we are still not in control of that – all we can do is move the person around to best effect.


The true creativity is in adding light to a scene for the camera to record. This takes vision, technical knowledge, skill and vast amounts of practice – hundreds of hours if not more.

Then we get our little box and its lens and record the lighting we have created.

My friend and fellow photography trainer, Jayce Clarke, tells his delegates:-

“Lighting first, lens second, camera body last”

Without good light, even the best camera and lens will create an uninteresting photograph.

Lighting is a constant creative challenge which can be added into any scene – landscapes, architecture, portraits, cars…. whatever genre you enjoy (except maybe wildlife) can include lighting.

So if you’re not getting the shots you want, maybe its time to invest in learning how to add light to your work!



Photographic Therapy

Snow Blind?

I’ve used the term “snow blind” a lot recently – it’s refers to that moment when you’ve been shooting the same thing over and over again, to try to get that “perfect” shot – usually for an art director or designer who’s looking on.

You’ve tried all sorts, move the lights, changed the background, stood on a ladder, led on your stomach, added in all kinds of things…. and it’s still not quite working.

That’s snow blind….

Doesn’t happen often – just now and then, usually after a sleepless night or something!

Clear the cobwebs

So you take a break, grab a coffee and chill out for 5… then get back to it.

All good.

But how do you get back to being your creative self after a long day on a job….?


Well a great way to “reboot” is to head out somewhere and do something totally different.

So on Monday I got everything done in the office headed out east to see if there were any nice crops or round bales to shoot.

Totally changed everything – no flash, no people, no cars, no goal… just me and my camera bag.

Fields and Bales….

It was the most changeable of days – clouds hiding then revealing the sun constantly. Great fun to capture as your canvas was never the same for long.

Tradition dictates that you’d use tripod, ND grad filters and polariser on an ultra wide lens for big bale shots… which I did for a short white… but then decided to use a 70-200 F2.8 lens, wide open, to line the bales up with trees in the background in different way.


It got to the stage where I was just making shapes out of the elements in the shot – rather than shooting “the bale” I was shooting “a triangle of things”.

Its more an excercise in composition when you boil things down to this level – like going back to basics. Really good fun, we should all do it occaionally.


I called in at Fairburn Ings, a place where they do everything possible to ruin the photographer’s enjoy mkent of the area, filling in 2 lay byes I used to frequent, and building fences which block great views…

Whilst there a fantastic double rainbow arrived – and I had no foreground.

Long Exposures

I admit to owning a 10-stop filter… there, it’s out…

These are black discs which attach to your lens and make your exposures about 1000 times longer. Popular with landscape people as they make clouds go surreal, people disappear and water milky in the extreme – yet stationary things remain totally unaffected.

So I tried it on some wheat, which stopped still as the clouds moved. That was nice.

Also tried it on Ferrybridge Power Station – where it smoothed out the steam plumes and clouds to give something rather odd.


Ok – there’s a swan shot too… it was at Fairburn Ings car park


Oddly enough, I hear of amateur photographers losing inspiration far more than professionals getting jaded… we don’t get time to get bored!

But if you’ve been on a project or theme for a long time and are starting to get snow blind, I’d strongly recommend going somewhere and getting back to basics – experimentation is the gift “digital” gave us, so get out there and just try stuff you’ve not done for years.

It’s amazingly theraputic


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