Photography and commentary from John Fujimagari

Photo Basics, Directional Light


We approached this tree from the east near sunset. As you can see by the long shadows coming towards us, we are in a backlighting situation.

I usually think that this is a good angle with the colored sky in the background. There is just a bit of rim lighting on the trunk of the tree.

When I go out, often I’ll grab a shot of what I first see. Sometimes I think I can get better results when I try to work a scene.


This time I’ll just illustrate the difference in lighting angles, and use a similar composition across all of the images. As I move to the north of the tree and point my camera towards the south, and more of the lit trunk emerges.


Moving westward just slightly, you can see the shadows starting to tip away from the camera. The images are getting brighter and less contrasty.


Now we are pointing the camera to the east – southeast and the shadows are definitely going away from us and the trunk of the tree is nearly fully lit. This is the brightest image of the set and has the least lost detail. The evening sun is casting a fairly warm light and you can see it everywhere, but there isn’t the strong saturated color of the sunset itself.

So when you are out shooting, move around your subject and watch how your light and background changes.

In the best light…


5 responses

  1. Dorothy

    I love this


    March 9, 2011 at 06:57

  2. thanks for the descriptions, really helps with understanding natural light & shadows!


    March 9, 2011 at 08:04

  3. Nice lesson John. I teach a beginners photo course here in Sundre. I think I’ll borrow the idea and have my class try to do the same thing so they can see how light changes with your camera angle, the time of day, weather, season, etc. Thanks. Mike


    March 9, 2011 at 08:23

  4. Good stuff, John, nice and simple!


    March 9, 2011 at 13:46

  5. This is a great photograph, these scene looks really beautiful


    March 9, 2011 at 20:31

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