I am sure you are reading this and thinking I have gone off at the deep end; of course great light isn’t an illusion. Well, that’s true but can you give the illusion of light being great even if it isn’t. This was the question that I started asking myself following the Duomo image I blogged recently. I wondered if you could create the impression of better light by increasing shadows rather than seeking to reduce them.
Often photographers, especially Landscape Photographers look to open shadows to reveal previously unseen detail. But this may not be the best approach. I started to think about some of the great portraits that I had seen shot and most of the ones I really liked have strong deep shadows with no detail. This Film Noir look creates striking and interesting images despite a lot of the image being thrown into complete darkness. But could I apply it to Architecture and Landscapes and would it help improve the quality of the light.
Here is a recent example I shot of Big Ben in London. To be honest the light on the day wasn’t great, the air quality was poor and I shot this hand held. The original image doesn’t look like a compelling shot. I have then used deep shadows to isolate the image subject from its surroundings as well as add a feeling of depth. Interestingly this has given the light a very nice quality and it’s now much more appealing than in my original image. I have repeated this with a couple of images where I thought it would work and yes it does.
So, whilst great light may not be an illusion, the illusion of great light can be created.