The Best Light for Photography

Creedence Clearwater Revival

The undisputed best light for photography is sunshine in the early morning or evening, right? But every light type, time of day and weather condition, has its own quality which will have visual benefits once you really look for them. Circumstances can make photographing in the early and late sunlight virtually impossible, but I would never discount other times or light. In previous posts I’ve described the benefits of photographing in a cave lit by a heavy overcast sky or a shipwreck by moonlight and I think back fondly to picture making in the rain or in fog and mist.

Lee Friedlander

Recently I’ve had some time available to me for photography around midday, a time with the potential of high sunshine and harsh shadows, a time avoided by many practitioners. The weather has been exceptionally hot, with harsh, bright sunshine; so I’ve been enjoying exploring in the shade of local woodland. This light reminds me of the album cover art for Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Green River or Lee Friedlander’s images in his book The Desert Seen.

The high contrast scene that I see is softened by the canopy of full summer leaves, and made softer still with the use of a polarising filter. I’m also experimenting with exposure bracketing and HDR processing of the RAW images to again lower the contrast, heighten the saturation and emphasise the enveloping, claustrophobic effect the forest seems to have over me.

Crowball Wood

Crowball Wood

I’ve been exploring the hinterland between the A361 and Exmoor in North Devon, An area which seems to cling onto the past with traditional farming of small fields, separated by old beech hedges and winding streams; of high hills, deep valleys and pockets of seemingly unmanaged woodland. This area, less than 10 miles from Barnstaple, feels like a different country, with a different cooler and damper climate. Hidden from the few one-lane roads, it’s scattered old buildings are populated by people living off the land, or finding an off-grid solace in an overpopulated country.

Little Silver Wood

Pool in Higher Dean Wood

Share this content: